Damp Remembrances

Life On The Back Page - April 2024

Daryl Gay | April 2, 2024

The six Ps: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Got it? Write it down, because if you’re anything like me, you’re certainly not going to remember it.

What brought on this erudite educational essay you ask?


“Man, I love that jacket,” old compadre Brad Gill greeted me as I back-stroked out of the flooded parking lot and into the auditorium. We were in Tifton to score all you fellers’ whitetail racks ahead of GON’s Truck-Buck Shoot-Out coming up in July.

“Thanks, Dude. I feel like a soaked sheepdog in it,” was my reply.

Man, that pre-dawn Dublin-to-Tifton drive was not the way you want to start your day. There was a tree down on a bridge as I tooled along in the Middle of Nowhere Dooly County. Or maybe it was Wilcox County. Anyway, I’m for certain that the water merrily streaming across the highway was in Crisp County…

There’s a fair-to-middling story behind that Ranger Boats jacket. From roughly October to March it gets worn about five days a week, because it’s perfect for Georgia’s fall and winter. But the FIRST day was when I kinda fell in love with it…

I was in a hurry. But then, I stay in a hurry. As a lad, Daddy always told me I got up so early and hit the ground running because I thought I was going to miss something.

Nothing has changed.

But there was this fairly special trip coming up, see, and preparations to be made. Truth told, I needed all them Ps.

High Rock Lake, just outside Greensboro, North Carolina, is only about 350 miles from Dublin. That seemed to be a fair test drive for the new engine.

What engine? The one I told the mechanics HAD to be totally installed in the truck and ready to roll by a certain, inviolable deadline.

Or I wasn’t paying for it.

No problem, they said. And there wasn’t!

I picked it up, left their shop and drove directly to Greensboro! How’s that for meeting a deadline?

To their credit, things went off without a hitch. Except maybe for the rain.

But hey, them Ps had already clicked in! I was all over that weather forecast for the upcoming week: monsoon season arriving and approximately 269% chance of downpour.

Every. Single. Day.

By the way, did I mention I was fishing the Bassmaster Classic? Which, as you may know, is held outside.

This was to be my third Classic as a press observer, riding with a different pro each day of competition. (I could also fish if I wanted, but who does that when the next bass may be a life-changer for the other guy in the boat? Well, there was this ONE time; but that’s another tale for another Back Page…)

It was also to be the wettest week of my life. Whew! Glad I went out and splurged on that fancy new head-to-toe rainsuit!

That’s what I was thinking somewhere in South Carolina behind flapping wipers. You may not believe this, but the instant I crossed the line from my home county of Laurens into neighboring Johnson, it started to rain. From Tuesday through Saturday, it never ceased for one minute—until I crossed the Johnson County line back into Laurens! Dry as an old bone…

Meanwhile, I’m driving and thinking about the pros. Talk about adapting! They’re going to need every trick in their considerable books of bassin’ knowledge, and in my head I’m already searching for angles on how this is going to be written up at tournament end. Who’s going to be the guy who figures it all out???

(Turns out it would actually be an amateur; from Connecticut; who had finished dead last in the previous year’s Classic; in DRY Alabama! Didn’t see that angle coming…)

North Carolina roads were as wet as South Carolina’s and Georgia’s—but at least that rain suit is hanging…right… back… JIMINY CRICKET!

Seems I have a P missing here.

And a rain suit hanging, all right. In my CLOSET at HOME…

Ever been P’ed enough to snatch a truck engine out and sling it backward two states?

I have. Of all the things to forget, this was the worst possible item.

So here we are now in Greensboro, and I’m profusely thanking one of the nicest men on the planet for possibly saving my life. Or at least helping to make it a lot drier.

The late Forrest L. Wood—the iconic founder of Ranger Boats and one of the most impactful men in the fishing business—was truly one of the good ones. He passed away at 87 four years ago and was the kind of guy the world simply can’t afford to lose. I seldom saw him without his wife of nearly 70 years, Mrs. Nina, which should tell you what you need to know.

Ranger gave us press guys these Charles River jackets, water-resistant outside, warm liner inside.

Water resistant means that if you’re a forgetful moron who has to sit in a boat all day with rain pummeling down, you’ll be only slightly wetter than the bass you’re chasing. But hey, stupid SHOULD hurt!

I was with Dion Hibdon, who won a Classic, the first day on the water, and he was the first to comment: “Man, I love that jacket! As soon as this rain lets up a little, I’m going over to that dock and catch the big fish of the day.”

Did, too. Thousand bucks. You remember things like that. Ranger jackets, too…

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