The Thin Line of Risks:
Life and Fishing

The first Costa FLW Fishing Tournament of the year ended after the first day, not because of weather, but because of life. Two anglers had not reported in and the worse of feared. The boat belonged to Bill Kisiah of Sidell, LA, and his CoAngler was Nik Kayler, of Apopka, FL. Bill was found Thursday night around 11 pm local time, but Nik remains missing. FLW has canceled the remaining days in order that every possible opportunity to find Nik may be made. The search and rescue operations are being conducted under the guidance of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard. FLW is assisting in the search efforts. Please pray for everyone involved.

This made me think about fishing and what we go through to find the bass. How often do we place personal safety at risk because of our desire to be the best. Like with anything in life, there are always risks involved in anything we do. When we wake up, we face risks all day long. Steps, sidewalks, driving, riding mass transit, malls, everywhere we go there is danger. It is part of life in general. But what risks are we crossing the line on and placing our lives in extreme danger?

The Elite Pros on the FLW and BASS tours have standards they must follow, but how often do they still cross that fine line? How about the anglers who are competing on the lower levels, who are fighting not just to win, but to secure their way into the big dance with the Pros? Our tournaments have become so tight with amazing anglers that we look for any advantage to win. Sometimes it involves taking high stakes risks that are on the edge of reckless. Is it worth risking a life over? And when there is a CoAngler in the boat, that becomes 2 lives at risk.

I take risks myself every time I go out fishing. No, not reckless risks, but still risks. Anytime you risk falling into the frigid water, you place your life on the line. I have fallen in, not because I was careless, but because nature called. And to this day, I still don’t know what happened to cause me to fall in. I try to minimize my risks. Wearing my life jacket, carrying a first aid kit, having a throw cushion, a whistle (but when there is no one else around, it isn’t much help), and I also carry an emergency blanket and a change of clothes. I have prepared myself as best I can in the event something drastic does happen.

But when you are out competing against 100 other boats, that risk increases. When you are out on a body of water that has a lot of traffic, both fishing and recreational, that risk increases. We increase our horsepower so we can be the first to a location. We take short cuts, that are very dangerous, so that we have that perfect opportunity to land a monster bass. I’ve seen boats fly across water that was just barely deep enough to go over. I’ve seen boats attempt to cross shallows and become stuck, because the tide went down a little faster then expected. Skirting the edge of danger to save a minute.

What risks are life threatening? And what do we consider too risky? Does a 30 second saving of time by running through a stump field make it worth the risk of dying? Or a 3 minute saving of time? We each must answer that question for ourselves. Where do we draw the line that we won’t cross?


  1. The major problem of bass boats in rough water is they are overloaded with all of the additions the boats design/displacement cannot handle. Power-poles, extra batteries, extra fuel etc. Boat manufacturers desire to keep the boats low profile in the water takes away from the safety factor. Simialar size boats fish the bay in heavy weather with no problem. Bass boats are inherently unsafe in heavy seas that you find on large bodies of water in high winds. Secondly, the majority of the operators have never taken a course in navigating in rough waters. It is amazing the chances folks will take to catch a fish hoping to make a buck. Tournament hosts are as guilty as the fishermen for launching a tournament in bad weather conditions. Maybe enough accidents like this will wake someone up but then again I doubt it.

    • Bob, I don’t have an answer to the solution. Is it the boat manufacturer who must design a boat that can be used in extreme conditions or is it boater education that is needed. I know that if conditions warrant it, boats aren’t launched, the day delayed or cancelled. I would say that 99% of the boaters err on the side of caution. Accidents are going to happen, we can’t stop that, but we can lessen the risk by our choices. A nut comes loose on the steering, a rogue wave, hitting a stump while on the trolling motor, anything can and will happen. But by talking about it, hopefully something good will come forth. And this isn’t about the accident at the Costa event, it just got me to thinking about the risks I take personally. Thank you for the AWESOME thoughts on the topic. I didn’t even think about that side of the issue.

  2. Great read, hats off to you an Bruce. This is an issue that needs addressed. I’ve been tournament fishing since 1980 an to be honest Brian even with all the advancements in the industry, with the growth of the sport an overcrowded lakes it’s a dangerous time to be on the water not even adding in mother nature’s unwillingness to cooperate. Bottom line it’s up to us to make wise decisions an to be overly cautious.


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