Today marks a date that we will never forget.
A day that our nation lost so many.
But the tragedy of that day made all of us come together even stronger than before. That day brought out the best in everyone; we all remembered our humanity, and everyone was a little kinder. For a time, we did unto others as we would have done unto ourselves, and we all truly loved our neighbors. As time has passed, many of us still remember those feelings today - but sadly, many do not.
Today, there is more divisiveness, separation, and hate than any time in recent memory.
At some point, we all stopped looking at one another, and started staring at our phones - lost in the madness of a never-ending news feed, mind-numbing games, and the [insane] "tweet du jour". Rather than lifting one another up, there are countless keyboard cowboys, seeking to tear others down [hiding] behind the safety of their screens.
But occasionally, that vitriol spills over into the real world, and onto the water.
So today, I'd like to share a bit of etiquette, in hopes of helping you have a good time, every time you hit the water.
Afterwards, I'll tell you all about the amazing act of kindness in the photo for this article!
One of the best things you can do for yourself, and your fellow anglers, is to have all of your gear organized and ready to go before you ever reach the ramp.
The last thing you want to be doing, is fumbling your gear all over the place as you hastily attempt to unload your rig. Not only will you look ridiculous, but anyone waiting to use the ramp behind you will quickly lose their composure.
Anything that you can [reasonably] keep on or store in your kayak - without making it so heavy you can't lift it - will help get you in and out even faster.
For some of us, it's not an option to keep much in our kayaks, because of the way they have to be transported. In order to fit both of our kayaks into our truck, Ryan and I have to load them up on their sides in a "V" shape - which means, we can't store much on them - making our gear organization that much more important.
Wait your turn
If it's busy when you arrive at the lake, you'll notice that people will form a line to the ramp, and many will put their truck in park to get things ready to launch. If you're able to get anything ready before you reach the ramp to unload your kayak, now is the time to do it!
Blinded by the light
If you're pulling onto the ramp in the dark, no matter what time of day it is, TURN OFF YOUR HEADLIGHTS before you make the swing to back down the ramp.
Keep your parking lights on, but always make sure you shut off those headlights before you're pointing directly at the water - because there's nothing more aggravating than someone BLASTING you in the eyes as you're trying to use the ramp.
Share the space
If the ramp is very busy, and you're safely able to do so, try your best to make room for others, and pull your kayak off to the side of the ramp or shoreline where you're launching.
Spare the chitchat
Eventually, you may hear the term "ramp talk" - and it's exactly what it sounds like. Do yourself and everyone else a favor, and save the talking for after you're OFF of the ramp.
Lend a hand
Offer to help others loading in and out - and ask for [and accept] help when you need it...your back will thank you later!
Pass with care
Most of the time, there is plenty of room for everyone to enjoy a day on the lake - but occasionally, you'll need to pass another angler - if you can safely do so, leave a good distance between the two of you, and pass BEHIND them.
DO NOT CUT BETWEEN THEM WHERE THEY'RE CASTING!!!
If you're not sure [or you have to get close to them to pass] give them the courtesy of asking if it's alright to pass them, and which direction they'd like you to go. The WORST thing you can do to a fellow angler, is carelessly pass through the area that they're fishing.
Don't be a creeper...
Being stalked by someone who is trying to copy where and how you fish - casting where you're actively fishing - is ENRAGING. Most people are happy to help if you have a question, or are curious about what they're fishing for - you just have to ask!
A good rule of thumb?
If you're close enough to be hit by a cast, you were too close about 50 feet ago.
***Fair warning: there are plenty of anglers on the water who will happily sling an ounce of tungsten your way to remind you...***
Handle your fish properly
Regardless of whether you're fishing to eat, or catch-and-release fishing, try to get the fish back into the water as soon as possible. Obviously, fish have a tendency to slip your grip and fall, but more often than not, you're completely in control of them. It's a living, breathing creature - not a toy - so handle it with respect.
Don't be a lazy angler
Most fish who die from being caught, die from the trauma of the catch - the worst of which, is when they're gut-hooked. If you pay attention to your line and rod while you're fishing, you'll be able to detect the bite right away. When you get a bite, SET THE HOOK! Don't leave a line sitting so long that the fish is able to swallow the lure.
Here's a video from the guys at Tactical Bassin if you do happen to gut-hook your fish:
Love thy neighbor
From time to time, you may come across someone who needs help - and most of the time, it's something small - so if you're comfortable doing so, offer to help. But if you do happen to come across a serious emergency - first and foremost, ensure your own safety! You're not going to be any help to anyone if you become a victim as well.
When it comes to matters of etiquette, most things come down to good old common sense. Clean up after yourself, and pack out your trash. Think before you act or speak - would you say or do that in front of your grandmother?? Be mindful and considerate of those around you.
Treat others as you would like to be treated...
It really is that simple.
Speaking of loving thy neighbor...
As some of you may have heard, Ryan and I have had an incredibly bad run of [tire] luck recently.
Over the course of one month, we have blown three tires - all popped by things we ran over on the highway.
The first tire that blew on the truck was not a huge deal; we changed out the tire for the spare, and went on our way to the lake. We knew we were going to have to spend a lot of money to replace the tire (because it's an F-250), but we figured we would have some time to save up the extra cash. I mean really...it's not like we were going to need it right away, right??
Then, about two weeks later, the second tire blew on our Honda Pilot while we were running errands...
Alright, still no big deal - we put the little spare donut on without a problem - now we just have to replace two tires. Those little donuts can last a while, right?!
Then about a week and a half later??
The third tire blew on the truck on our way home from a Sunday morning kayak fishing tournament on the Trinity River...
And I'm pretty sure our spirits broke with that third tire - because not only do we have to replace THREE tires - we don't have a spare to put on the truck to get home.
It took about an hour or so to get a flatbed to us, but eventually, our truck was being loaded up, and we were on our way to one of the only places we knew was open, that happened to be near home - Walmart.
We road in the cab of the truck with the driver from JZ Towing here in Texas, and when we arrived at Walmart's Auto Center, Ryan and I hopped out of the cab, and told the driver that we'd go ask which bay they wanted him to put our truck in...we told him we'd "be right back"...
When we came out of the store a few minutes later??
This is what we saw:
The flatbed dropped our truck in the middle of the parking lot, and left.
The guys working at the Auto Center were just as shocked and appalled as we were. They told us that they'd never had a tow truck do that before, and we were wondering what to do, because the driver of the flatbed DROVE the truck onto the flatbed; which completely shredded our tire - so the truck was sitting on its rim, and couldn't be driven.
That's when something incredibly awesome happened.
The gentlemen who work at the Walmart Auto Center in Little Elm rolled up their sleeves, dropped safety cones around the truck, and went to work.
If you look at the ground in the pictures, you can see the gritty remains of the tire scattered all over the place.
The guys ended up being able to repair the first tire that broke a month ago, and they clipped all the air hoses in the garage together to reach the truck.
Once they'd replaced the tire, they pulled the truck up to the bay to check and fill the rest of the tires on the truck, just in case.
In short? These guys were incredible.
Not only did they repair our tire [faster than others have done INSIDE of a garage], but they restored our faith in humanity.
Once we can afford to replace our tires, we look forward to stopping by the shop to have them work on the truck again!
Seriously, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you guys again!
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