I have never been a fan of fancy new vehicles to be used when fishing, so due to this I have an older truck as my primary mode of transportation. But with running a vehicle whose odometer is closer to 200K than 100K comes with its own set of problems and concerns. As you’ll see, my problems most often occur while en-route to a fishing destination.
The first issue with my fishing ride occurred early last summer, about three months after I bought it. I arrived at my local launch ramp around 10 pm, walked out onto the dock and had 65 bunker in the first toss of my cast net. Fifty of them went into my cooler and the rest were set free.
As is my procedure, I ran the cooler full of squirming bunker to a hidden spot along the nearby shoreline and set to cutting it up for myself and my fishing partner who was to join me in short order. I sent him a text saying it was a “1 throw and away we go!” kind of night and that I would be cutting bait when he arrived. He got slowed up by traffic so I was done cutting when he finally arrived and was already half-suited up in my wetsuit. I gave him his half of the bait and returned to getting dressed while sipping on an energy drink.
By 11:15 we were both geared-up and ready to go with time to spare as low water was around 12:30. I hopped in my truck, turned the key and my heart sank as I heard that horrible “click-click-click” of a dead battery. We ran a set of jumper cables between trucks, charged my battery for a few minutes and attempted to start it—no go. We let the trucks stay hooked together for another 10 minutes, but my battery simply would not take a charge. Realizing the battery was likely toast, I called up another friend who was supposed to be out fishing the first half of the night as I hoped to catch him on his way home. As luck would have it my other friend never made it out but was more than happy to make the short run over to me so we could team up and deal with the battery issue.
As my home was on the way to the originally-intended fishing spot, I caught a ride from my partner who was heading out to fish (I told him to do so.) and awaited my other friend’s arrival. Upon his arrival we ran to a local Wal-Mart that is open 24 hours, bought a new battery, swapped it out for the dead one and I was home and in bed about an hour earlier than had I actually been out fishing that night.
As it turned out, I didn’t miss much in the way of fishing—some bass to 30 pounds were caught—but I quickly learned to double-check that I had turned my headlights off before running out to net bait!
Moving the clock forward 11 months, once again I was back at that same boat launch in search of bunker. This time around I never got my net wet as my arrival timed out perfectly with a local captain’s return to the dock from an evening of drifting bunker on the local reefs. He offered me up his remaining 13 livies, and I added them to the two I had snagged earlier in the day while out shooting my weekly report video (I always carry a bucket and snagging set-up in my truck!). After making a quick check for bunker at the dock and getting a tip as to where he had boated fish of 32 and 40 pounds at dusk earlier that evening, I jumped in my truck and made the drive to a marina near my eventual destination to check for bunker to hopefully top off my cooler of bait for myself and my fishing partner (the same one from above).
On the drive between bunker spots, my radio turned off unexpectedly but I chalked it up to the fact that it was more than 17 years old. About a mile further down the road I began to notice my headlights as well as my dash lights were dimming, so I sped up and zipped to my destination.
After arriving at the marina I checked for bunker, saw none and cut up the donated bait. I shot my partner a text to let him know I’d meet him shortly at the spot I was advised by the captain. I geared up, hopped in my truck and once again heard that horrible “click-click-click” of a dead battery.
I called my partner and caught him just before he left his truck to head out onto the rocks and asked if he could come give me a jump. He arrived in short order, we pushed my truck out of the parking spot as my jumper cables couldn’t reach from where he had to park, and we hooked the trucks up once again. I made the decision to again skip out on fishing, transferred the bunker to my partner’s cooler and fired up my engine a few minutes later. My plan was to go home—as fast as I could—and hope the battery would hold.
Well, as you might expect, I got about three-quarters of the way home before all electric components failed—including my headlights—and I safely but precariously coasted into an empty parking lot where I called AAA for a tow. An hour later I hopped into the cab of the tow truck—still dressed in a wetsuit—and made the ride of shame back to my house. While waiting for the tow truck driver to arrive, someone reported a “shirtless man” on the side of the road so two local police officers arrived to question me. After laughing about my outfit and verifying I was okay, they wished me luck and went on about their business.
This time around it wasn’t the battery but the alternator that needed replacing. As I write this I contemplate the sense in running my old truck with all its issues (There are more I left out today, but might visit another day.) but I still kind of like the freedom of not having to worry about getting fish slime, bunker guts and sand all over the inside of my fishing truck. I just wish she’d stop modifying my fishing plans on the fly!