Do you hang around people that have bad luck just to make yourself feel better? Wait, let me rephrase; that sounds mean. Do any of your good buddies happen to have a good run of bad luck, which happens to make your occasional mishaps seem less dramatic? I know that still sounds horrible, but I have found that this particular practice offers valuable perspective on my fishing life.
For example, I woke up early one morning to go fishing only to find that my starting battery was dead. It would not hold a charge. I may or may not have failed to add water for the past year or two. So, I went to Walmart (the only store open that early) to get a new one, just to find out that they were sold out of marine batteries. So, I had to wait until Academy opened at 9 a.m. before I could head to the water. That three-hour delay seemed fairly catastrophic at the time. Totally missed the topwater bite.
Enter Thomas Allen.
Allen is the Senior Editor of this magazine and attracts disaster. The same weekend my battery died, Allen was taking Dave Precht, Editor-in-Chief of Bassmaster, fishing on a private lake. Allen towed his boat while Precht followed him. Halfway to the ramp Precht noticed that one of the wheels on Allen’s boat trailer was wobbling. Not only did his bearings give out (he greases them weekly), but the entire hub decided to disintegrate, leaving nothing but metal shavings to hold the wheel to the trailer. They limped their way to the ramp, just to find out that Allen’s starting battery was dead, as well. He trumped me with a blown-up hub. Thank you, Thomas.
I recently discovered an electrical issue with my boat. The livewell pump fails to turn off. So, I was complaining about how I have to disconnect the wire because I can’t find the source of the problem. Allen scoffed at my complaint. Evidently, he was trying to rewire his trolling motor and touched a couple of live wires together, which welded both to a newly melted switch. He said enough smoke came out of his front hatch to send waypoint smoke signals to Mississippi. Frustrated, he went to disconnect his boat from his truck and the trailer jack exploded, sending shards of grease upward, outward and onto his shirt. The trailer tongue slid to its lowest position and there it would stay. Evidently, a car jack and a couple of old firewood logs can be used as a makeshift trailer jack when you are in a pinch.
Last year, Allen and I fished a benefit tournament together on Lake Guntersville. He wanted to run his boat because he had just put a new lower unit on his outboard. By the end of the day, we had culled up to 15 pounds. Not great, but the fishing was tough, and we had hopes that we’d slide into the money. About 5 miles from weigh-in, his engine lost power. Evidently, the mechanic that worked on his lower unit skipped the part where you add oil to the gearcase. We trolled to the nearest marina, tossed our fish in the lake and hitched a ride to get his truck.
Since the Guntersville tournament, Thomas has had to replace his starting battery three more times because of some unidentifiable draw that continues to eat power, even when he disconnects all the battery cables. He also managed to shear off his new lower unit while donating his time as a boat captain to a high school fishing team. Yes, if you have been counting, that is lower unit number three.
At some point, I know something has to give with his string of bad luck. Until then, I will continue to sympathize with his trials. And most importantly, I can wrap my arms around Thomas Allen’s baseline of tribulations, give it a squeeze, and appreciate the fact that my luck isn’t all that bad after all.