Outdoor Articles

Night Fishing – Just when you thought it was safe

by Pursue The Outdoors on July 8th, 2005 in Boating Safety

For the past 5 years myself, my son and best friend have
been night fishing for trophy fish, but have never
encountered what took place one Friday night.

Trying to launch our boat at the ramp, seemed a forever
wait because of the traffic. It was probably due to the
start of the 4th of July weekend, and everyone was excited
to have some fun on the lake.

The Great Kerr Lake, also named “Buggs Island” is home to
trophy Largemouth Bass, Stripped Bass, Catfish, Crappie,
and many more freshwater species. It is these trophy fish
that keeps us coming back to feel the thrill over, and over
again.

We finally squeezed on through the crowd of other boats,
and set our course to our famous place where we catch our
live bait. The winds were southeast around 10 MPH, and the
water a little choppy. Nothing to worry about because the
weather predicted a clear and crisp night with a low of 70
Degrees.

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After making our way to our famous spot, Earl noticed more
fish on the fish finder than usual. Earl was amazed and
wanted Chris and myself to take a look. Earl asked “What
you say we try it here, it’s not but a hundred yards from
where we originally get bait?” Everyone agreed and we
immediately dropped anchor.

We took a few minutes, like every night out fishing on the
boat, turn on our anchor lights and put out the green
fishing lights, and prepare to setup and catch our baitfish.
The Great American Shad, alewife, and Gizzard Shad are the
baitfish food of choice for Stripped Bass and Catfish at
Kerr Lake.

Our twenty-one foot “RoughNeck” boat serves an all around
fishing purpose. No recreational vessel. The boat is rigged
for fishing only. We were anchored down off to the side of
this huge lake, and made several drops with our cast net,
to yield 80-100 baitfish. Some were eight inches in length
and very lively. We began to notice that we had enough
baitfish to last all night, so we started to bait up our
Rods for some trophy catfishing.

We didn’t get the chance start fishing immediately. All
three of us wanted to make sure that this was the spot,
when I turned to my left and saw a light on a boat
approaching our position- FAST! I paid no more attention to
the other boat, and told Chris and Earl that another boat
was approaching. When I turned to look again, it was
heading straight for our Bow, but quickly turned after we
shouted “Hey Look out,” but it was too late.

The other boat immediately turned to the left, desperately
trying to miss us when their starboard side collided with
our starboard side, ripping a huge gash in the other boat,
while making a large dent in our RoughNeck Aluminum boat.
The impact knocked us out of our seats onto the floor of
the boat, and sent rods and tackle flying. The impact also
knocked out the anchor light and power briefly.

We immediately reacted saying “Is anyone hurt?” making sure
that there were no injuries in our boat. I shouted to the
other boat “Is anyone hurt, are you all OK?” The response I
received back was “what are you doing out here in the
middle of the lake with no lights on?” I replied back “The
anchor lights were on, plus we had two green fishing lights
which makes the whole bottom of the boat glow, and we had
two headlamps on, along with a flashlight.”

While the three of us were assessing the damage, the driver
of the other boat was complaining that we damaged HIS boat
and that he is now looking forward to getting another boat.
During all this conversation, we found that our boat
received heavy damage, but were not taking on water. The
rear starboard side and transom were bent, but no leaks
were found.

The other boat, a two seat bass boat, was driven by a male
with two other women on board and they agreed to call the
Game warden. This happened at 11:50 PM Friday night, and we
figured it would most likely take time for the warden to
get to our position. The other party had no idea on where
the location of the accident took place. While we waited,
the other boat quietly trolls around our anchored position,
out of viewing distance until the Game Warden arrived.

The first Warden arrived 30 minutes later, while the second
arrived 5 minutes later. The first Warden gently pulls his
boat along side ours, and began to ask us what happen.
Earl, Chris and myself told the Warden “we were sitting out
here anchored with all kinds of lights in and out of the
water, when this boat approached our position very fast.”
The Warden asked each one of us had we been drinking, and
replied with a “No Sir.”

By this time the other boat, and other Warden is beside of
our boat because we are anchored. The first Warden began to
question what happened to the other boat, when he broke
into the conversation and said “I smell Alcohol, have any
of you been drinking?” All three in the other boat replied
“No Sir.” The first Warden immediately looked around the
other boat, when he reached down, and out from under the
console, pulled out an empty beer can. The Warden asked no
more questions and began to initiate a breathalyzer and
sobriety test for the driver.

Things changed rapidly for the people in the other boat.
The driver then confessed that he had a beer after work
before coming on the lake. The other two women confessed
that they too, had a couple before entering on the lake. The
Warden then proceeded to give the breathalyzer test to the
driver and found that he had twice the legal limit of .08
for operating a boat. The driver was immediately arrested
and taken away. The second Warden finished by taking our
information and escorting the other boat back to the marina
for impound.

The driver of the other boat was charged with a OBWI-
operating a boat while intoxicated. The worst case appeared
when we found that the driver of the other boat carried no
insurance, but we did have insurance on our boat. We
received $9000 damage to our boat according to the estimate
and report.

All three of us agreed that it was time to call it a night,
so we released our wonderful baitfish. We stowed away our
gear, pulled anchor, and made our way to the boat landing.
The entire night was ruined because of some careless other
boating. We were very fortunate that no one was hurt in
the accident.

Fishing at night, on a boat at the Kerr Lake in Virginia,
produce some special challenges to all fishermen. At night,
not only is your depth perception lessened, bright lights
on the shore can cast misleading reflections on the water.
It is very important that we are able to identify other
boats operating in the proximity.

Most night time fishermen are aware of the risks involved,
especially with other speeding water craft traveling up and
down the lake. Those who are not trained properly to
navigate at night, are not familiar with the rules and
regulations for boating safety.

An amazement to our family and friends, we were back on the
water following the accident two nights later. This time we
carried a 10 million candle power search and rescue light,
along with using our regular lights for safe night time
trophy fishing.

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