Words are funny critters. Sometimes they are solid, definitive, and bold. Other times they are shady, weak, and fickle. But words are how we communicate with each other in speech, reading, and writing. SO, how do we keep up with this conundrum that words sometimes create?
We DEFINE them.
We give words specific definitions, so everyone knows exactly what each word means – right?
Often words have many different meanings depending on the context of their use, so it is extremely important to understand exactly how a word was used in relation to the other words around it to really know what it means.
Now I say all that to say this – the topic of “burning” shorelines with boats, specifically “tower” boats is a subject of great interest to a lot of people. And, frankly, it should be a topic of interest to a lot more people than it is. If you are a competitive angler, it should be in the very forefront of your mind along with a plan to DO something about it.
I have stated the obvious here before and I’ll repeat it again – if we don’t police our own ranks and hold the culprits responsible for their actions it will be done for us and it will be done in a way that suits the fancy of bureaucrats who may not even know which end of a rod to hold on to. This issue has become a hot button with people who don’t know a redfish from a mullet. The reason for that is that it is not being touted and decried as an “illegal” way to find and/or catch fish. No, it is on the chopping block because it is causing irreparable harm to the ecosystems of the marshes and estuaries of our coastal regions. And THAT, dear friends, is something a whole lot of people care about.
I can clearly remember 10-15 or more years ago when I was trolling along through back ponds and flats in Louisiana looking for reds and they would literally come up to the boat and swim right along with me making happy grunts all the way. I have had, on many occasions, redfish come right up to the spinning prop of my trolling motor to see if it was something to eat. I have sat my boat in one spot and caught reds without making a cast. I would simply have a few feet of line out and go “dobbing” for reds by just letting the lure straight down in front of them as they cavorted around my boat.
So, tell me – when was the last time you saw redfish acting like that? Many of you will have to say ‘never’ because you came to game after the changes were wrought. Some of you have only come to the game in the last 2-4 years and you may never see that kind of behavior. And it is we, my friends, it is WE who have done this. And it must be WE who correct it.
With those thoughts on our mind let us look a couple of words. Let’s examine “burning” and “tower”. Most of the rhetoric I have heard and read has centered around the word “how” – as in, “How do we stop people from doing this?” or “How do we define burning?”
I am about to help you with that.
But first let’s see if we can define a “tower” boat. Top drive? Dual helm? Six feet? Ten feet? Flat bottom? Vee hull? Shallow draft? Deep draft? Specific make? Model?
The more people you ask, the more complex - and obscure - the definition becomes.
Well, ok then, let’s have a go at “burning” shorelines? Fast? Slow? Ten feet off the bank? Twenty yards off the bank? Using a TRP? Standard lower unit? Can ONLY done by “tower” boats? Can be done by ANY style boat? What exactly IS this thing called “burning” to locate fish.
Same result. The more people you ask, the more complex – and obscure - the definition becomes.
Now we get to the meat of the matter – How do we define “burning” so we can make a rule to stop it. This also brings us to an interesting quandary because the more we try to define “burning” in this context, the more complex the definition becomes and the more vague and obtuse its meaning. In fact, the only thing you can honestly say about the practice is that it is a method of using a boat under power, usually on plane, to cover large areas of water with the express purpose of locating fish.
Now we have something to work with because purpose means intent. And, there is no question in anyone’s mind that they did or did not perform an action with the purpose, the “intent”, of locating fish.
Each one of you knows, in your own mind, what “burning” is. SO, if you do it you simply cannot hide from that intent and it will sink your boat on a polygraph because you WILL fail the question. You see, your intent to perform an action is a powerful thing and it cannot be diluted or refined. It is INTENT, it is in your mind, it is a part of your conscious will, and you simply cannot subjugate that intent when asked about a specific action.
Now, and without a specific written definition, we can hold people accountable for their actions by indicating that the purpose and the intent are illegal in tournament activity including ALL prefishing activities.
I would submit to you, whether you agree with my little word trial or not, that you CANNOT defeat a polygraph if a question is phrased about an “action with intent”.
All that needs to happen now is for EVERY angling competition, tour, and trail to insert a rule making it illegal to utilize a boat (any boat), on plane (yes, you know what that means too), with the intent and for the specific purpose of locating fish.
Ya’ll chew on that bone for a bit. I have some fishing to do.