Fails from the Trail: Tom Chopin's Triton

Failing. We’ve all done it at some point or another, and although we can’t usually see a fail coming, we always hope no one gets hurt. When we go fishing, there are plenty of things that can go wrong, and most of the risk lies before you even put your boat in the water. Trailering mishaps happen all the time, from blown tires to flaming hub bearings to the occasional boat leaving the trailer prematurely. Though we can usually laugh at our mishaps afterward, a lesson lies in each incident, whether it’s never forget to put the drain plug in or to make sure the transom straps are tight before hitting the highway. Before checking into this series of mishaps, we suggest you double check your insurance coverage.

This week we take a look at what happened to Tom Chopin’s Triton TR186 in August 2013. Lest you think high-profile fishing industry folks are immune to mishaps of this nature, know that Chopin is product specialist at Koppers LIVE TARGET, the company that puts out the multiple award-winning, super highly detailed hardbaits. Unfortunately and through no fault of his own, Chopin was the victim of that omnipresent force that never takes a day off: stupidity.

“Last August, I had to take the boat to the office because my son and I were going to fish a father-son tournament that night, so I wanted to have it ready to go,” Chopin said. “I just parked it on the side of the road in front of the building.”

The Triton was parked roughly 40 feet from Chopin’s office window, so he could keep an eye on it. However, this line of sight caused him to bear witness to — as Confederate Railroad put it in their “Bill’s Laundromat Bar & Grill” — “the destruction of the whole dang place.”

“I was typing away at my desk when I heard a loud ‘crunch’ sound that’s hard to describe,” he said. “I turned my head to see my boat in the ditch and the car smoking. A few choice words were thrown about as I ran out the door.

“I was the first one there and did attend to the girl before others arrived. I was then able to survey the damage to my poor boat and truck,” he said. “I asked her what happened and she said, ‘When I looked up it was too late.’

“Fortunately, she missed the brand-new Mercury that only had nine hours on it. But, the trailer ball bent up 45 degrees and the tongue rammed the bumper, tailgate and quarter panel. There was $10,000 in damage done to my 1-year-old truck.

“She was lucky she wasn’t killed. If you look at the photos, part of her windshield is hanging off of the trailer. When she hit, the car went under the trailer and into her windshield. She actually walked away. But she got a ticket for careless driving.”

Figuring he’d never see the Triton again, Chopin and a co-worker emptied the contents of the boat’s compartments on the lawn, right in front of the office.

“It looked like a giant yard sale right there in the lawn,” he chuckled.

Emergency workers managed to get the wrecked hull back onto the equally wrecked trailer and onto a flat bed. Chopin actually sold the hull to a guy who’s going to try and repair it. The basically new motor is currently for sale.

The silver lining in the accident is what’s currently in Chopin’s driveway, a new-to-him BassCat.

“I settled with insurance then went and bought a new boat from a guy, so it worked out OK,” he said. “I do miss that TR186’s hull, though, it was a little deeper than others and ran great on the Great Lakes.”

Click the photo gallery to check out all the carnage.