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No lights at night is not all right

Published: Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 11:49 p.m. CST
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Submitted photo

Good morning to you all, and I hope you have had just one heck of good week. For reasons I shall explain in this here article, I thought I would start off with a very cheery, upbeat tone, because what I have to say this week is anything but cheery.

No, no, no, Cat Matt is not happy … in fact, I’m flat ticked off. Who is the very deserving object of my animosity, you ask? Just sit on back and let me tell you how the whole thing went down.

Maybe some of you recall some time ago me writing an article about an unfortunate incident that occurred one night while chasing flatheads on the Rock River. My wife and I had landed several good fish that night, and even endured a small rain shower. As pitch black settled in, we pulled anchor and headed for home.

You may recall this being the time when I said I thought I saw Jesus in my green navigational beacon on the bow of my boat. Well it wasn’t Jesus, unfortunately; it was a young man, and he was very close. By the time I realized there was a person standing on the water in the middle of the river, it was to late to do anything but try to minimize the impact.

I mean, this person was actually standing in a boat with his girlfriend. They were anchored sideways, with no lights on, in the middle of the channel ... I assume they were doing homework or something.

As I made impact with their boat, I was happy when I realized I had not actually struck either one of the occupants. As I turned to come around, I asked if everything was OK, then escorted them back to the camp where there boat actually sank.

Thing is, if I was looking anywhere else but straight forward that day, at that time, I would have struck that young man in the temple, more than likely killing him.

Fast forward with me, if you will, to this past weekend, where I found myself night fishin’ for flatheads on the Rock near Erie. My buddy T.J. and I had fished one anchor, and were slowly moving toward our second.

As I stared through the black night, I noticed a faint glow some 30 feet directly in front of me. As I closed the distance to a mere 15 feet, I realized that there once again was another very, very irresponsible boater anchored up, poles in the water and no lights on.

Now what makes this so bad is that this dude was almost invisible, and worse yet, I am usually wide open on the throttle through this area. Had I been, he and my buddy and I were in for some serious injury – or maybe worse yet, death. The closing rate on that boat at 50 miles per hour would have left no time for reaction, just destruction.

As we passed, we may have mentioned to the haanyok in question that lights were not an option, but a necessity. What makes it worse yet is that on the way back up river a short time later, he was in the same spot still – with no lights on!

So, as you can imagine, I am pretty worked up, and my buddy is just plum beside himself. So after short deliberation, we decided that boarding his vessel and trying to pound some sense into him was the wrong thing to do, and I convinced my buddy to let me handle it the right way.

The right way, to me, was to let the authorities handle it. I quickly placed a call to the DNR, and then to an actual officer ... no luck. Then I place a call to the sheriff’s department non-emergency line.

“OK,” the voice says, “where you at? What’s the problem?” … yada yada yada. The person takes my call-back number, and we head to the ramp to meet the officer.

An hour later, nothing. Another call is placed to 911, and to a local village police department … and nothing.

Ladies and gentlemen, this was a week ago. Not only did no officer of any kind show up, but a return call to me was never made. Now, again, I remind you that this should have been a tragedy. If I’m on plane here, somebody is dying. This guy is going to keep doing this, and something bad is going to happen.

Should we have dragged this guy out of the boat and beat him with a dumb stick? As the old saying goes, “You can’t fix stupid.”

I can’t help but think that if there would have been a call placed that night that ol’ Cat Matt was at the boat ramp beatin’ the snot outta some guy, that an officer of some sort would have showed up then. Look, I know some of you may not think this is a big deal, but trust me, it is enormous.

So I carry this man’s license plate number with me, and his boat is a very clear image in my head. The only thing that is clouded now is what to do next time this happens.

Go Catfish!

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