It’s a worst-case scenario anglers never think of, and can easily kill them if they’re not prepared.
We stood in a long row on the shoreline, knowing we were about to eat a huge sh*t sandwich.
“Hey RIP, Lance Corporal Not-On-Time took it upon himself to be late.”
This man, wearing a kelly-green hoodie, black shorts and “badass” tattooed on his wrist, didn’t yell, but spoke matter-of-factly.
Myself and others returned from a 96-hour liberty period, on time.
But one failed to do so.
We were small parts of a larger machine: When one fails, everyone fails.
And since one must be punished, everyone shall be punished.
It’s simply part of the indoctrination to earn that kelly-green hoodie and black shorts.
But that goal was nowhere in sight. Just our breath in the cold, gray Carolina air – and a shallow pond.
A thin layer of ice stretched across the top of that pond, perfectly, like a mirror.
“RIP, prepare to crossover!”
“Aye, Corporal”, thundered thirty voices in unison.
A mass of olive drab entered the pond, smashing the mirror.
My breath was instantly taken away, but I stayed under the surface and swam to the other side, holding what breath was left.
It was so &$%*ing cold.
Emerging from the other side, we crawled out and lined up again, knowing what was coming next.
And we did.
And we did again.
I couldn’t feel my arms and legs. I could barely stand.
Quitting would have been the easy choice, but I desired what those black shorts represented. And to get that, I had to be that.
The man with the tattoo knew what he was doing. Nobody was hyping out, not yet, but we were close.
“RIP, what happens when one is late?”
“We miss extract, Corporal.”
“And the cost of missing extract?”
“We all die, Corporal.”
“You are a team. When one fails, you all fail. Look after each other. Get back to your rooms and get warm, right now.”
You’re probably thinking “What the heck does this have to do with inshore fishing?”
If you’ve spent your life avoiding such unpleasantry (smart on your part) then there is no way you can know.
And because you don’t, you may not be prepared when the worst happens.
The odds of an angler hyping out are pretty darned good during the winter.
Think about it, what is surrounding you in the marsh?
That’s right, a lot of water.
What’s between you and the nearest shelter? Probably a lot of water.
Imagine being soaking wet, running 35mph through near-freezing temperature.
Would you make it?
Not without suffering greatly, or worse.
I think you have the picture.
This is how you can be prepared before your next fishing trip.
These are the items I have on-hand to get dry and warm:
I think it’s obvious you’d use the towel to dry off.
It may not be so obvious that you’d need to strip off wet clothes to do this. All of them.
For spare clothes I keep thick wool socks, thermals and a flight suit (to fit other people, should they need it).
I don’t keep spare shoes, mostly because they don’t fit in the dry bag I have. Maybe I should.
The key detail is a good dry bag.
I’ve used dry bags with waterproof zippers, but prefer the kind that fold to create a seal. A 20 liter dry bag is plenty big enough to put everything inside.
Inshore fishing is fun but – like anything – has its dangers.
Good inshore anglers recognize these, prepare for them, and help others do the same.
Having a dry bag with spare clothes is one way of doing that. This way you fish with peace of mind.
Tight lines, y’all.
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