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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our season here in PA is coming to a close for flatheads. Mid 50s water temp, winter is coming quick.

Wanted to give it one last trip for the year and heard some fish were being caught in a section I've never fished. Checked it out on Google earth, looked Like a clear stretch of river, but it's free flowing, not a dam/lake.

I should have known better.

I drove down Sunday and was surprised to find that when I got to the launch, I stead of finding a nice smooth lake , I found typical free section suskie. ROCKY.

The spot I was at , there is a line of rocks starting just below the launch and running at a 45 deg angle essentially the full width of the river (angled upstream across the river)

From the launch, I couldn't see a way through the rocks, it looked sketchy at best. My gut told me to get in the truck and go to a spot I know. Red flag number 1, I know better. .

So I talked to some guys and they said if you hug the bank on the side we are on, go upstream and you will see the chute just below those big set of rocks sticking up "just take it slow and be careful" ...again, my gut was screaming bad idea.

Into the boat and up the river I go, I make it 150 yards or so upstream and I can see the chute they told me about, pretty narrow, didn't look too bad ,but again, my gut was screaming BAD IDEA, I knew it was going to be a totally different story coming back up at night, but across the river and through the chute I went.

Below the initial line of rocks, there are basically a series of rock ledges that jut up into the river, goes from 10 feet to 3 feet, back down to 12 feet, etc. And since the river is fairly narrow in this section, the current is MOVING.

My boat is a 1648 flat bottom and I have a little 20hp tiller jet, great little boat, but it is not made to take high impact hits from jagged rocks, it's not a rockproof, etc. it sits pretty low and hitting rocks gets sketchy QUICK due to the way it sits.

So I went a couple miles downstream and fished until 11 or so, dreading the ride back up the entire night. I took it nice and slow on my way upstream, pretty smooth sailing until I got up the general area of where the chute is that you have to run to get back to the launch.

I absolutely could not see the chute, I was in boiling, ripping current and because of the way the rock line is situated , the current is running at a 45 degree angle basically.

I spent a solid 10 minutes in absolute TERROR trying to see where I get get up between these rocks, but from downstream I just couldn't see. All I kept thinking was "this is how you end up on the news".

I was worried that if I tried going up through and was in the wrong place, I was going to either have to back out and risk running into a rock backwards, or try turning the boat around in raging rock filled current, risking taking a rock on sideways, which in my little boat means taking a swim.

I eventually just gave it some juice and prayed that I didn't hit anything. When I crossed over the ledge, I was definitely NOT in the chute, the water was about 8" deep, thank God the boat scraped through. Then there was another minute or so of trying to avoid being swept back into the rocks sideways because the current was ripping and trying to pull the boat sideways back into the rocks. Which would have definitely meant major disaster.

I have NEVER been so happy to hit the damn dock, my legs were shaking so bad I couldn't even stand up.

Honestly I don't even know if the spot is all that bad if you know it well. I'm going to go back to bass fish it in the day time and I want to see how close of a call I really had. The issue was that I just didn't know what I was running, I should have spent some time going back and forth through the area a few times and got the lay of the land in daylight. Going down through there 1 time in daylight, then coming back up in the dark was entirely irresponsible.

I pride myself on being a safe boater, I've got a great family and they count on me. I can't believe that I put myself in such a dangerous situation, knowing damn well that I should not have done it. Lesson learned for sure. That river kills people on a regular basis, she will suffer no fools , I'm thanking God that I'm here typing this story and not making the rounds on the local news stations.

I can't be the only one with a close call, anyone else have a good story?

If one person reads this and thinks about it next time their gut tells them something, then it was worth the time it took me to type it lol.
 

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4am, boat loaded(overloaded) with 3 other grown men, decoys, shells, shotguns, etc. Cousin is at the tiller and the little 9.9 is giving it all she has. For some unknown reason my cousin decides to throttle down suddenly. Boat turns into a submarine. Luckily we had enough momentum to turn into the bank and ended up spending the first hour of hunting light bailing out the boat and retrieving everything that would float. Lost a few non-essentials, but it could have been a lot worse.

Actually, it did get a lot worse when my wife learned about it a couple years later when our group was telling stories and forgot we hadn't filled the better-halves in on that escapade.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
YIKES. I often think about the reality of going in the water. 90% of the time ,I'm alone. I usually fish at a lake that while fairly popular among the catfish crowd, it's pretty desolate.

I'm often the only boat on the lake, at least miles away from another boat, long way from any houses, etc. The thought of swimming in that river at night TERRIFIES me to my core.

Last winter I had a REALLY close call and almost fell out of the boat down on the Potomac. Current was ripping, out in the main channel, anchored up. Went up to the front of the boat to get something and lost my balance. By the grace of God, I reached out as I was falling and grabbed my net, which was draped over my front boat chair. Thank God it held.

I sat down for a bit after that and really thought about how close I had just come. All bundled up, heavy boots, 35 degree water, nobody around, no life vest on. 100% chance of fatality.

Since that moment, if I'm in the boat, my life vest is on. No exceptions. Not sure if that would have even saved me that day, damn sure don't ever want to find out.

These last couple days since the other night, I've been doing a LOT of real serious thinking. Accidents are nearly inevitable, stuff happens that you just can't account for.

Been really questioning how important catching catfish is to me. Is it worth dying over? Certainly not. Then again, ya gotta get out and live. Can't live in fear every day.

Sometimes the line gets a little gray lol. I liked it a lot more when I was young and too dumb to think about the reality of the situations I put myself in. The older I get , the more I tend to think of the potential consequences of a stupid little mistake, which is all it takes to get your 15 minutes of fame on the news. 15 min of fame isn't worth a damn when you're living, let alone if you aren't even around to enjoy it lol.
 

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I liked it a lot more when I was young and too dumb to think about the reality of the situations I put myself in. The older I get , the more I tend to think of the potential consequences of a stupid little mistake
This definitely resonates more than I like to admit. I'm at that age too. Hit 50 this year, overweight(of course) but working on it. Starting to wonder if the solo fishing trips need to end. There are a lot of things that would be minor blips if you have company but would disasters if you are alone.
 

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Aaron from Indiana
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Dang I'm glad you both made it out ok. My scariest boating experience was 33 or 34 years ago. I was 19 or 20, working for the DNR doing a creel survey on a lake in northern IN that's shaped like a big bathtub. The wind was coming from just the right direction to create 6 foot rollers and I was trying to get back to the ramp in a 16 foot deep V with a 25hp tiller steer. I still remember the feeling of the front of the boat point toward the sky as I climbed a wave, then point at the bottom of the very deep lake as I went down its back side. It's not a feeling I ever want to have again.
 

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Yep, several close calls, duckhunting once the boat floated away into the cove while we were packing up to leave. Knew the cove wasnt more than 6 or so foot deep, so in 48 degree water i strip to my boxers and go after it. Made it about halfway and had to turn around. Barely made it back to shore. Let me tell you that cold water will steal your breath fast! Let the boat float across and cousin came up and drove it back to us...be smart people!
 

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That Susquehanna River has no patience for foolish fishermen. I'm glad to hear you are safe. It's funny how as you get older you start to recognize those bad situations before you are stuck in the middle of them. The trick is to actually listen to your gut.
This spring the water was in the 40s and blue cats were biting in the lower Suskie in front of Port Deposit. I came to the boat ramp on a gray drizzling morning to find not a soul on the water. I stood at the boat ramp for a good long time and knew if I was out there, I'd catch fish. I also knew if a big one threw me off balance and I flipped the kayak, the PFD would only serve to help rescuers recover my corpse. There would be no one out there to come to my aid. After thinking about it I went home so I could live to fish another day. I'm 49 years old. The 25-year-old version of me would've gone fishing.
As far as close calls, I've had a couple times where conditions changed while fishing and I've cut my anchor line to avoid swamping the kayak. I've also drifted into a rock broadside while fighting a fish and had a couple gallons of water flood into the yak when it pitched sideways.
 

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My job is repairing swimming pools, so 95% of my fishing is in the winter. I usually try to fish on weeknights to avoid the weekend crowds. I am almost always alone and many times I am the only trailer in the landing's parking lot. I worry about falling overboard into freezing water because I start each trip throwing my cast-net from the front deck and that obviously gets soaking wet from slinging the cast-net and then the front deck has a coating of ice on it. I will be 60 next year.
During the summer I will get into the water and attempt to get back in the boat from the back around the outboard and then try to climb in from the front grabbing anything that might help me leverage myself out of the water, so that if I fall in during the winter I will know what will work and what wont. I know in the winter it will be much harder wearing layers upon layers of clothes, but that info will be better learned in the summer than after falling in the freezing water and trying to find my way out then.

Sculpture Water Art Event Metal

I remember fishing a Tx on Tillery and I was anchored (front and back) on a slope in about 40' of water with 100' foot of rope out front and also 100' out back. The wind really picked up and was coming directly from the side, some splashing over the top of the side. I was worried if it got much windier it may start coming over the side and if that happens the water will make the boat sit lower in water making it easier to swamp over the side. I also had 10 rods in rod holders all around the boat cast out. It takes 15 minutes just to reel all the lines in. Normally I reel all rods in, then loosen the anchor rope coming off the back, and pull the boat towards the front anchor until I get it in, then pull the rear anchor rope in pulling the boat backwards until over the rear anchor to get it to un-lodge from the bottom and then up. I knew if I did that, after lifting the front anchor, the wind would push the boat quickly down wind from the rear anchor and I couldn't pull the boat backwards against the waves. So I was going just untie the rear anchor and pull up the front anchor and then motor over to the rear rope (braided hollow core floating rope) and motor upwind of it until I could pull it up. Fortunately, the wind died down enough to move after a while, but while it was howling I got very nervous.
 

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Ron from Northwest Texas
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I served many years in the brown water Navy,first 4 riding a Destroyer and a Frigate,the rest 85'rs and under.After many years of rescues,recoveries, near misses and one incident that damn near killed me I try to be as safe as humanly possible,night trips are more carefully planned than a lights out SEAL op in the Swiss Alps on a new moon.

1987 on a dark cloudy night in a far away land we were heading up a rain swollen river on a PB3 running bout 30 kts.We were out for a night rendezvous/pickup of a half dozen snake eaters that had been playing Boy Scout way too long. I was cat napping forward of the conning tower up against 300 lb gear locker while awaiting my wake up call suddenly I was flung forward about 20' into a forward gun mount then into a gear locker that had outpaced me to the forward lifelines.Half asleep forward boat sinking fast I was able to grab and don a Mae West in record time.Moving aft I found two mates in way worse shape than me still on the boat two more thrown thrown overboard.The other two vested up as I grabbed some line to tether us together.We entered the water immediately being swept downstream.Bout 10 minutes of sheer terror later we were able to get ashore at a sharp bend after being thrown and hung up on every tree,stump and twig in that river,not mention the gallons of river water we inhaled.We were rescued right at sun up fortunately alive just some owies and a few broken bones.The two men who were flung from the boat weren't as lucky,they were recovered down river later that day.

What caused this accident.........we missed a cue while waiting at the mouth of the river prior to making our entry.What should have been a 15 kt 1.5 hr run turned into a 30 kt 45 minute run...........way too fast for this swollen river.The tree we hit was washing downstream just under the surface.It was never picked up by flir................. took the keel straight out from under her.From impact to broken up and washed away under three minutes.

My take out of this is.......
Even a bathtub with water in it is a drowning hazard.
Maintaining full awareness on the water even if only a passenger is essential.
Always wear a life preserver on a moving boat.
Never ever get in a hurry.........especially once the sun goes down.
Survivors guilt is real.........NEVER PUT ANYONE ELSE'S LIFE AT RISK!!!!!!
 

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Our season here in PA is coming to a close for flatheads. Mid 50s water temp, winter is coming quick.

Wanted to give it one last trip for the year and heard some fish were being caught in a section I've never fished. Checked it out on Google earth, looked Like a clear stretch of river, but it's free flowing, not a dam/lake.

I should have known better.

I drove down Sunday and was surprised to find that when I got to the launch, I stead of finding a nice smooth lake , I found typical free section suskie. ROCKY.

The spot I was at , there is a line of rocks starting just below the launch and running at a 45 deg angle essentially the full width of the river (angled upstream across the river)

From the launch, I couldn't see a way through the rocks, it looked sketchy at best. My gut told me to get in the truck and go to a spot I know. Red flag number 1, I know better. .

So I talked to some guys and they said if you hug the bank on the side we are on, go upstream and you will see the chute just below those big set of rocks sticking up "just take it slow and be careful" ...again, my gut was screaming bad idea.

Into the boat and up the river I go, I make it 150 yards or so upstream and I can see the chute they told me about, pretty narrow, didn't look too bad ,but again, my gut was screaming BAD IDEA, I knew it was going to be a totally different story coming back up at night, but across the river and through the chute I went.

Below the initial line of rocks, there are basically a series of rock ledges that jut up into the river, goes from 10 feet to 3 feet, back down to 12 feet, etc. And since the river is fairly narrow in this section, the current is MOVING.

My boat is a 1648 flat bottom and I have a little 20hp tiller jet, great little boat, but it is not made to take high impact hits from jagged rocks, it's not a rockproof, etc. it sits pretty low and hitting rocks gets sketchy QUICK due to the way it sits.

So I went a couple miles downstream and fished until 11 or so, dreading the ride back up the entire night. I took it nice and slow on my way upstream, pretty smooth sailing until I got up the general area of where the chute is that you have to run to get back to the launch.

I absolutely could not see the chute, I was in boiling, ripping current and because of the way the rock line is situated , the current is running at a 45 degree angle basically.

I spent a solid 10 minutes in absolute TERROR trying to see where I get get up between these rocks, but from downstream I just couldn't see. All I kept thinking was "this is how you end up on the news".

I was worried that if I tried going up through and was in the wrong place, I was going to either have to back out and risk running into a rock backwards, or try turning the boat around in raging rock filled current, risking taking a rock on sideways, which in my little boat means taking a swim.

I eventually just gave it some juice and prayed that I didn't hit anything. When I crossed over the ledge, I was definitely NOT in the chute, the water was about 8" deep, thank God the boat scraped through. Then there was another minute or so of trying to avoid being swept back into the rocks sideways because the current was ripping and trying to pull the boat sideways back into the rocks. Which would have definitely meant major disaster.

I have NEVER been so happy to hit the damn dock, my legs were shaking so bad I couldn't even stand up.

Honestly I don't even know if the spot is all that bad if you know it well. I'm going to go back to bass fish it in the day time and I want to see how close of a call I really had. The issue was that I just didn't know what I was running, I should have spent some time going back and forth through the area a few times and got the lay of the land in daylight. Going down through there 1 time in daylight, then coming back up in the dark was entirely irresponsible.

I pride myself on being a safe boater, I've got a great family and they count on me. I can't believe that I put myself in such a dangerous situation, knowing damn well that I should not have done it. Lesson learned for sure. That river kills people on a regular basis, she will suffer no fools , I'm thanking God that I'm here typing this story and not making the rounds on the local news stations.

I can't be the only one with a close call, anyone else have a good story?

If one person reads this and thinks about it next time their gut tells them something, then it was worth the time it took me to type it lol.
Few great stories begin with wise decisions. Thanks for sharing!
 
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