With Memorial Day coming up, a lot of people will be on local rivers and lakes in their boats and personal watercraft, whether it's to go fishing or just have some fun.
Unfortunately, not everyone who goes boating does it safely, and accidents (and fatalities) do happen. According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, there were 109 boating accidents and 11 boating-related fatalities in 2011 in Georgia. Conservation rangers made 168 arrests for boating under the influence.
So, if you're going to be one of those people hitting the water this Memorial Day weekend, stay sober and know the laws when operating a boat. Here are some tips to follow to ensure that you have fun but also stay safe:
Designate an operator. Don't drink and operate a boat.
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Take a boating safety course. To get a listing of courses, go to www.goboatgeorgia.com.
Wear a life jacket. Children younger than 10 are required by law to wear a life jacket while onboard a moving boat, but it's recommended for everyone to wear a life jacket.
Don't overload your boat with people or equipment. Check on the capacity plate for the maximum weight or the maximum number of people the boat can safely carry.
Use navigation lights at all times when on the water at night. Check your lights before it gets dark.
Watch your speed. The 100-foot law applies to vessels of any size and prohibits operation at speeds greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any vessel, unless overtaking or meeting another vessel in compliance with the rules of the water.
Along with those rules, if you're going to be using a personal watercraft, here are some more tips:
Don't jump the wake of another boat.
Pay attention to your surroundings and make sure you stay well clear of other vessels.
Know Georgia's age requirements for personal watercraft operation.
Make sure everyone who operates your personal watercraft is aware of boating laws and how to safely operate it. As the owner, you can be held responsible if something happens.
For more information, visit www.goboatgeorgia.com/boating/safety.
Callaway Gardens report
The water temperature in Mountain Creek Lake last week was 71 degrees, and a 9.5-pound largemouth bass was caught May 16 with a rubber trick worm.
Also, crappie between 1.2 and 2 pounds were caught on jigs, bream are bedding, and bluegill as much as a pound or more are active.
A couple of tournaments were on West Point Lake and Lake Seminole last weekend, but only one tournament is on the slate for this weekend.
The ABA/AFT Division 12 competes again Saturday, when it returns to
Lake Eufaula. The tournament will launch from Lakepoint Marina, and the entry fee is $70, which includes entry into the big bass pot. For more information, call Deacon Collins at 404-862-4233.
After the Saturday tournament, the ABA/AFT Division 12 competes again June 2, when it returns to Lake Eufaula. The tournament will launch from Lakepoint Marina, and the entry fee is $70, which includes entry into the big bass pot. For more information, call Collins at 404-862-4233.
The ABA/AFT Division 114 will hold a tournament June 2-3 at Lake Seminole, launching from Seminole Lodge. The entry fee is $140, which includes entry into the big bass pot. For more information, call Mitchell Oldnettle at 850-376-2628.
The American Bass Anglers/American Fishing Tour Division 99 (West Point Lake) is idle until June 9, when the trail returns to West Point Lake. The tournament will start from Highland Marina and costs $70 to enter. The fee includes entry into the big bass pot. For more information, call Rick Tilson at 404-550-3610.
The Georgia Bassmaster Weekend Series will compete June 23 at Lake Eufaula, starting from Lakepoint Resort State Park. For more information, call 1-888-203-6222.
Needing your help
If there's a fishing hot spot you want people to know about, a column you think I need to write, a fishing tournament or a turkey shoot you have coming up that you want to publicize, or even if you want to just tell me what you think of my column, shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to your input.
-- Joseph Myers is anindependent correspondent.You can write to him at email@example.com