Archived Story

Safe boating requires great caution

Published 12:17am Sunday, June 17, 2012

Last week, the rain and cooler weather really turned the fish on.

The Old River at Vidalia produced some nice bass on surface lures fished around the shallow, dead willows and boathouses. This bite will work well any morning, and if it’s a cloudy, overcast day, the surface bite will last longer.

The Mississippi River stage at Natchez Saturday was 17.5 feet and falling really slowly. Thanks to the dam that was constructed last fall on the Old River near Vidalia, the water level in this live oxbow lake is fishing like a river stage of 24 to 25 feet.

The dam is located in the chute leading out to the Mississippi River at the south end of the Old River. There are culverts under the dam, so the water still falls, but it falls out much slower.

That’s a good thing. There is a lot more holding cover left in the water than it would normally be at 17 feet.

Changing the subject a bit, this is how my Saturday morning went.

I have an inner Saturday-morning alarm clock that says, “Get up and go fishing.”

I wake up very early, even when I don’t have a fishing trip or bass tournament planned. My inner alarm clock does not work at all on weekdays, just weekends, and my wife just does not understand this.

Just before 3 a.m. Saturday morning, I woke up as usual and stepped out on our front porch, which is built 30 feet off the ground. I was sitting there listening to the big bullfrogs croaking when I heard tires screeching, and then a loud crash not 20 feet from me.

I looked down from the porch and a car was inches from our house. I thought he hit our house. This young guy was drunk. He was not just drunk; he was falling down drunk.

He tried to back up and leave. I was hollering for him to stay put. I had 911 on the line. This guy managed to get the car back on the street, but the front tires would not roll.

He made it about 500 yards down the street before the Concordia Parish Sheriffs deputies arrived. They arrested him.

Needless to say, I was wide awake by then. About an hour later, around 4 a.m., I receive a text message that said a local man was killed in a boating accident on Lake St. John.

I was told not to mention his name until they were sure the family was notified.

That’s so sad. I know this guy. About a week ago, I wrote a column about safe boating and how most accidents occur from Labor Day through Memorial Day, simply because that’s when all the pleasure boaters are on the water.

Some pontoon and ski boat drivers are very good captains. They know how to drive a boat and know the rules of the water. Others don’t.

I don’t know why so many think that alcohol and driving a boat is a common mix. It’s a very dangerous combination.

I am not sure if alcohol was involved in this accident that took this guy’s life, or if it was just an accident. However, a huge percentage of boating fatalities do involve alcohol.

I ended the previous column saying please help us make this an accident-free boating season.

People, please be extra careful on the water this summer. The first day of summer is officially June 20, and we have already had one person killed on our area lakes. Maybe his death will not be in vain. Just maybe, this will open some people’s eyes and save someone else’s life.

There were a lot of people on the lake that night partying. Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for some — sad as it is.

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