All Gilligan, No Skipper
Published: September 15th, 2016
By: Josh Sheldon

If you have hunted, fished or spent time outdoors long enough, you probably have had a few wild goose chases that you didn’t plan. After such an unwelcome adventure, many of us diehards turn to some well-earned ribbing as retribution. On the other hand, sometimes the greenhorn to a sport gets a little more than they bargain for on their first trip out with the boys, as most crews have at least one joker amongst them.

There’s nothing worse than having your day wasted by someone else’s lack of experience. I have learned over time to be quite skeptical about someone’s so called hot spot. Too many times I have followed someone into the lamest experience possible. Because of this, I have come up with a few tricks that will either save the day or make yours later, but as for theirs, not so much.

Trust is something I don’t take lightly. When someone says I have this awesome fishing spot, I trust they, like me, are really headed to one. It’s pretty obvious that you are in for one of those days when they show up late on a hot summer day and immediately head the boat to a shoreline that held bass months ago but is an aquatic desert this time of year. For some reason, it’s hard to say something about the situation for most people, which could actually turn the day around, rather than just get burned in more ways than one. I have an easy way to rectify the situation when you notice Gilligan is attempting to captain the boat. In the aforementioned scenario there is an easy solution, simply call out the mistake being made and explain what can be done to rectify it. In most cases, Gilligan’s ego won’t allow him to hear what you are saying, so it’s time to set the challenge. Give it one hour their way and challenge them to give your way an hour. Again, ego will cause them to take on the challenge because fishermen like that know it all, y’know. It’s almost guaranteed you will get skunked fishing open shallows in mid-summer, but you also know where the fish are from their lack of presence. Head for the weed beds and show Mr. Fancy-pants what’s up. This typically happens once with a new fishing buddy and they will be calling you captain from there on out, if not, tell them to get a kayak.

When stuff like this happens more than once, the person is in for a bit of outdoor humor and most of us have a few tricks up our sleeves. One of my favorites is to take the person out ice fishing with you and a buddy for the first time. At some point, the greenhorn will have to leave the shanty to pee. This is when you pull the bent piece of wire out of your tackle bag and shape it into a long hook. You can then reach under the ice and hook his line. Once you have it, tie it to your buddy’s line who’s fishing back-to-back with him, but make sure the reel is the kind that doesn’t make any noise when drag goes out. Drop the bait back down the hole and let the fun begin. When he gets back in, allow him to jig a bit and when the time is right, give a tug and the fight is on. I have seen someone fight for nearly five minutes before figuring out what was happening and the only reason was that we were nearly in tears laughing at him. You will also find out how good of a sport the person is, which is super important in group hunting or fishing.

Sometimes, while afield with someone like me, you need not do anything to invite a few jokes played on you. Rachel learned about this firsthand this weekend while floating down the river with me. I noticed that she was nervous about the canoe getting away from me, which would leave her paddle-less in the front. She is almost impossible to startle, so I couldn’t help myself. We had stopped at the end of a pretty fast moving run to check a gravel bar for artifacts. When it was time to get back in, she sat down and I started swinging her into the current. About that time, I let the boat slide through my hands and hollered, ”Oh no, there you go.” She let out a gasp, which I believe was the first I have ever heard out of her. Instead of getting upset upon realizing it was a joke, she gave me the biggest smile and laugh. No wonder I love her so much, what a good sport. I went on to thank her for the story idea and for being so fun.

Good wishes, and remember that being outdoors is about having fun, even when that fun is made of you or someone else.

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