April 7, 2015

The Marsh is Unforgiving, This is How to be Prepared

The 7 P's kept me safe for years. Its time you discover how it works on the water.

Prepping for the Reality of the Marsh

There is a big difference between being prepared at home and being prepared on the water.

Let's put this into perspective:

You're headed down Main Street during your lunch break. It's part of your daily routine, a quick break from the grind of work.

You pass through a four-way intersection, as you always do, but this time something happens that isn't routine.

A car runs the red light, slamming into your side. Metal crunches as both of you careen onto the sidewalk.

Because of seatbelts, airbags, and a prompt 911 response no one is seriously injured or left to die. At the end of the day, all is well and insurance smooths everything over.

Now, let's flip the tables and compare the marsh:

You are deep inside Delacroix as a summer thunderstorm approaches. You try leaving, but it catches up anyways in a narrow bayou. You can barely see in the blinding rain and are forced to slow down.

From the rear comes a sudden noise of rushing water and a loud thud. You didn't have time to turn around and aren't even conscious to know a crab boat ran you over.

Your aluminum boat sinks like a rock as the crabbers struggle to find your body in the darkness of the storm.

They won't anyways. Because your ass is dead.

Reality is Harsh

Both examples are a tough pill to swallow, but they're not extreme and happen very easily. The difference is how those accidents are handled and how we prepare for them.

On Main Street the prevention of and preparation for accidents is already done by other people. Chances of a "Good Sam" being close with a smart phone and knowledge of what to do are pretty good.

It's the opposite in the marsh. Responsibility for your boat and the people in it falls 110% on your shoulders. Louisiana's coastal wetlands are not "Lake Lure".

They are remote and unforgiving. Most areas lack cell phone coverage. VHF radios only work if someone is in range to hear you calling. Otherwise you are SOL.

It's no wonder those who frequent these waters are curt and to the point: the marsh made them that way.

Prior Proper Planning Prevents P*ss Poor Performance

This term accurately describes the steps you must take to ensure you are good to go each time you launch the boat.

Let me give you some ideas!

Have a back up, and then have a back up to that back up.

It's a mistake to launch your boat at the marina without considering what happens should critical equipment malfunction.

  1. What would happen if I broke down? I could call for help with my 25 watt VHF radio.
  2. What if that radio was broke? I could call for help with my backup handheld VHF radio.
  3. What if that didn’t work? I could call for help utilizing my cell phone booster and my cell phone.

See how I have layers of preparedness?

Two is one, and one is none.

This kind of overlaps with what I talked about in the last paragraph.

Having two phone chargers is really having one phone charger. Phone chargers are destined to break and you will want that backup for when you're stranded.

Note Cell service is getting better in some areas and using a smart phone is becoming more viable.

It kills me that people will have an arsenal of expensive fishing rods before they spend the money on something that can save them.

Moral of the story: always have a spare. I have not one, but two Danforth anchors on my boat. I keep a spare wrapped in its own anchor line.

Leave a life line.

Someone I trust will know when I am headed out, where I am going and when I expect to be back.

In some cases, I will leave a “drop dead” time when my friends need to call the Coast Guard if they haven't heard from me and cannot get in touch.

Doing this will always leave a safety net you can fall into when disaster strikes.

Think “sequence of events”.

Consider these points:

  • When something happens, what will happen next?
  • Have you really ever tried calling for help?
  • How do you know you and your equipment are capable?

Point is, do you know what will happen next and are you prepared for it? Have you operationally checked your equipment?

I wonder what you'd see if you cracked open the case to your flare gun. When people do they are usually corroded, don't work or the flares are the wrong size.

Don't let something so simple get you!


At the end of the day, you can’t make assumptions that everything will be alright. You are only setting yourself up for disaster.

You're better off making assumptions that things sometimes go wrong without warning. When you are mentally prepared, you will become physically prepared.

It is then you can fish with peace of mind.

This applies not just to fishing, but all of life. See how inshore fishing teaches us more?

Final Note

I'm not trying to discourage everyone from inshore fishing. This passion has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Is there risk? Yes.

But that's life. Risk is everywhere.

It's what makes life worth living. We shouldn't let fear dictate that.

There's no point in fretting, we're all gonna die anyways.

When I die, I'll be unafraid, knowing I lived a life fulfilled by many things, some of them having gazed upon the endless beauty and conquered the many challenges of Louisiana's wetlands.

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a veteran of the Iraq War and former fishing guide. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

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