Editor’s Note: If you love to hunt and fish, and you want to be able to enjoy the outdoors as long as you possibly can, then read and learn from this week’s information. I never can remember a time that I haven’t participated in outdoor activities. For the last 45 years, I’ve been an outdoor writer, hunting and fishing in just about every state in the U.S. and several foreign countries. However, along the way, I’ve seen some of my friends and colleagues having to shorten their outdoor careers due to heart disease. This week, I’ll tell you what’s happened to me, what I’ve done, why, and what my outcome has been. I’ve learned that anytime you can talk to someone who’s going through an experience that you may be facing, you can learn plenty and not be nearly as apprehensive, as you will have been if you don’t know what’s happening to you.
My son John, who is one of my favorite hunting and fishing partners, had found a little pond that was spring-fed behind a nearby major shopping center. This place was where no serious bass anglers were trying to fish, and you couldn’t put in a fishing boat because there was no ramp. The pond was at the bottom of a fairly-steep hill. If you planned to fish from a boat, you had to carry it in down the hill, put it in the pond, and – after fishing – you had to carry that same boat out of the pond and up the hill and put it on your vehicle.
Because John fishes many small waters near his home in Shelby County, Alabama, near Birmingham, he’s become an advocate of kayak fishing. These lightweight, small boats can go anywhere and do anything, making them perfect for fishing small streams and little ponds often overlooked by most anglers. John may enjoy a 20-30 catch-and-release fish day while kayak fishing 4 hours in the morning or 4 hours in the afternoon. He’s even caught bass up to 6 pounds in these small, overlooked waters. When John got his second kayak, so he could take his children fishing with him, he called me and asked me to go kayak fishing behind the strip mall.
Although the weatherman promised rain, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky when we slid our kayaks down the steep bank and then climbed in our little boats for an afternoon of fishing. We were having a great day of catching and releasing bass when we saw a dark thundercloud coming our way. John said, “Pop, we better paddle back toward the spot where we put in, and be prepared to get these kayaks out of the water and on to the truck before the rain arrives.” I listened to the wisdom of my oldest son and paddled back to the takeout point. Knowing that I couldn’t pull a kayak up that steep bank, John said, “Pop, stay here with the stuff (tackle, rods, reels, paddles and snacks), and I’ll pull the kayaks up the bank. Then I’ll come back and get our stuff and help you get up the bank.”
When John had all the gear loaded-up on the truck, I started climbing up the steep bank by myself. About 1/4 of the way up, I was out of breath and had a slight pain in my chest. I caught my breath and started going up the hill again. I only went about 20 yards before I had to stop once more. By this time, John had come back down the hill and said, “Come on, Pop. I’ll push you up the bank.” John started pushing, I began climbing, and the rain poured down. We finally made our way, slipping and sliding to the top.
I don’t know any outdoorsman who’s hunted and fished all his life who will admit to the fact that he can’t go as hard as he’s always gone, can’t climb mountains and hills like he once has, becomes short of breath and has chest pains or other any physical problems. Our ego usually won’t let us. None of us want to admit to the fact that as we get older, we may have heart and cholesterol problems, but it happens, and these silent killers also may cause a stroke or a heart attack.
To learn more about bass fishing, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “How to Bass Fish Like a Pro,” at http://amzn.to/YpoJvD, available in Kindle, print and Audible versions, and “How to Fish Like A Pro, Volume II,” at https://amzn.to/3kb0QI6 and also available in Kindle, print and Audible versions. On the right side of the Audible page for this book and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible with one click). You may have to copy and paste this click into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read 10% of the book for free and hear 10% of the book for free). To learn more about other bass books by John E. Phillips go to www.amazon.com/author/johnephillips
Tomorrow: Know That You Can Have Physical Problems Outdoors When Hunting and Fishing – Even on Flat Land