A punch in the mouth

Mike Tyson famously once said, “Everyone has a plan, till they get punched in the mouth.” Well, our industry — and the country in general — has been punched in the mouth. It was a hard punch too. It hurts now, and the hurt isn’t going away in the immediate future. We have to deal with it. 

What I’m not going to do in this column is cry or complain. The fishing industry isn’t the only one hurt by this pandemic. We’re no better or more important than anyone else. Every industry in the country is up against it. If you doubt that, try to buy a new car, or a part for your old one, or a lawn mower. If you farm, you can’t get new equipment or parts either. And the construction industry is in just as bad a shape. 

The other thing I’m not going to do is get into the politics or economics of this thing. Why it’s happening doesn’t help us one bit when we try to deal with it. It’s a matter of dealing with things as the actually are, not as we would like them to be.

I’ve been very fortunate this winter. I have a new boat and all the equipment I need. But, that is not the case with all the Bassmaster Elite Series anglers. Guys are scrambling to get electronics and trolling motors. And, in some cases even outboard motors. At least one angler with several wins has actually installed an old flasher unit on the bow of his boat. He can’t get, or at least hasn’t received, new units. 

The tough side of this is that it’s very hard to compete at this level unless you have the best of everything. It’s not that we can’t catch fish. We can all do that. It’s that we have to find fish that are bigger than average, bigger than the other guys. And we have to do it fast and efficiently. 

On the positive side, though, most of us are in pretty good shape when it comes to tackle. We’ve all fished for years. Our garages and outbuildings are full of rods, reels, line, hooks and lures. We may not have exactly what we want, but for the most part, we have what we need. 

As a practical matter, about all we can do is fish with the best of whatever we can get our hands on and take care of what we have. 

Taking care of things is probably the most practical advice any of us can get. You can get by with almost anything if it isn’t broke. Don’t forget that we caught lots of big bass 15 or 20 years ago when none of this modern equipment was available. We can do it again. 

I’m towing my rig extra careful, and I’m being extra careful when I run down the lake. A blown lower unit is more than a trip to the service truck these days. It could possibly put you out of the tournament. I’m also keeping covers on my screens, and I’m watching what I hit with my trolling motor.

I suppose what I’m really saying is that none of us should take anything for granted — not our health, not our equipment, not anything else. We should be thankful for what we have, hope to be able to upgrade at some point in the future and take care of what we already own. 

This will pass. The United States had been through much worse — think the Civil War and the Great Depression. We’re the greatest society the world has ever known. In a while this will be nothing more than a distant memory. A punch in the mouth hurts, but it isn’t fatal.