The Jackets Required Tour

As the cold weather slowly moves our way, there is also a deadly danger that follows closely behind.  That danger is caused by colder weather and colder water conditions, which is called “Hypothermia”, the cooling of the body’s core temperature.  In extremely cold water and weather conditions, which we are not use to in the South, basic human functions quickly and dramatically slow down.  Trying to swim or just tread water, because you were ejected or fell out of a boat, causes the human body to lose heat even faster and will cause our bodies to give in quicker, so a life jacket is an absolutely essential.

Even though we as bass fisherman and women are at more risk just driving to and from the launch site during our fishing days, with on the water dangers like a little tendonitis of the elbow, or a hook in the hand (once I even got a Devil Horse hooked in my neck, another story in itself), and maybe a sun burn; we must keep thoughts of boating safety fresh on our minds and not take the attitude “It won’t happen to me, never has and never will.”  But, just as we prepare ourselves for towing the boat to the launch site, with our safety seatbelts hooked, we should also think about our safety on the water.

All Pro’s & Competitive Anglers Events have one of the most primary rules of fishing there is, “JACKET REQUIRED”.  Tournament Directors & officials have known for years that wearing life jackets is the best defense against tragedy on the water.  The best message I can offer you today is that, “IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO HAVE IT ON BOARD, BUT PLEASE USE & WEAR IT”, if not for yourself, wear it for your wife, kids and grandkids.  They will be the ones who will miss you the most if tragedy should happen to you.  I promise you, having that jacket stored a compartment will be the worst thing you ever did if the time arrives in a split second and you need it, and of course that is when it will be needed the most!

Life Jackets Save Lives.  The proof is in the fact that since it’s inception in 1967, B.A.S.S. and the younger FLW Tournament Trail, have never had a death related to fishing during tournaments.  These events accumulate immeasurable contestant hours on the water during some of the harshest conditions Mother Nature can stir up.  Not a single death, this says a lot for the Safety Directors of both of these fine-fishing Trails.

It’s sad that even while life jackets are a prevalent part of the pro attire, most amateur anglers don’t like or want to wear them, and sometimes this causes grave consequences.  Most all boating deaths involve the victim not wearing a jacket and drowning, and most of these are during the colder months from the result of hypothermia.  Did you know that most anglers believe that they can safely swim back to their boats or to shore if they fall overboard or capsize; however, falling into the water with a lot of cloths on in 70 degree or lower water temperature can cause a person to instinctually gasp and inhale water.  Each time you gasp for air, your reflex will cause your head to go underwater even more, which in turn, causes your body to work even harder and lose extra warmth.

A few months back, we had taken our 4-year-old nephew fishing at Chicot Lake.  While we wore our jackets when running the big motor, we had removed them for fishing; but we made our nephew keep his on and he was fussing at us for taking ours off, when just then the water patrol pulled up and checked our boat.  Well, just for wearing his life jacket, our nephew got a very nice T-shirt and all we got was a dirty look for not having ours on!  Plus a little more fussing from our nephew and joking because he got a shirt and was a good fishing person!

The main point I’m trying to get to today is that we all know one another and we are all best friends, and as the saying goes, “friends don’t let friends drive drunk”, so we shouldn’t even let our friends drive without their life jackets.  I would much rather get fussed at by my friend over him or her not wearing their jacket, than from their spouse or children or grandkids for not making them wear them and now they are all alone without them.  And for just a few seconds of hardship, putting on and taking off a life jacket, it could have saved their life.

I would love to see it as a Motto, “Jacket’s Required”, if you can’t do it for yourself, please do it for your love ones!

Tight Lines & Happy Fishing this Winter,
Ricky  Ingram

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