Pro Pointer - Safety on the Water

I recently had an incident that caused me to reconsider my views on safety. My wife and I were out for a quite evening of fishing on a local lake. Near the public beach is an area of scattered rock and grass, and we were throwing a few crankbaits and enjoying the evening. While drifting along, we thought we heard someone yelling, "help"! We looked around, saw nothing and continued fishing. We heard it again, and saw a head bopping up and down in the water, well away from the buoyed swimming area but inside the no boat zone. I quickly kicked the trolling on high, and my wife grabbed our throwable from the storage bin. I have the "minimum" legal requirements in my boat - a throw-able, and the required PFD's per person.

Minnesota law does not require a rope on the throw-able, but I have one in a separate storage bin. We reached the man struggling to stay afloat the same time as someone from shore, who also heard the cries for help and swam out. As I approached, I threw my cushion to them, and missed. Because I did not have a rope attached, I could not easily retrieve the cushion, and had to move the boat to it for a second toss. I also could not "reel" the man in once he had the float. I again had to maneuver towards him. Exhausted, he clung to the side of my boat. My boat has no ladder, and trying to get an exhausted 250-pound man over the side of a bass boat is not an easy feat. I learned several lessons from my experience. A throw-able needs to have a rope attached to be effective. Even a bass boat, not used for skiing or tubing, should have a ladder of some form to get out of the water without a struggle. And safety laws are written for a reason, and I will be mindful of them in the future.