P.C.T.D-are you a victim?
Greetings everyone. I know that in the past I’ve written a lot of stuff trying to be funny or sarcastic or funny/sarcastic. Not today. This article is about something that I don’t find humorous at all, in fact, it is downright frigging serious. Thousands of bass anglers across this state suffer from a condition that causes untold amounts of pain, anguish and malcontent. Most anglers suffer from it and don’t even know that the affliction has a name. I’d like to be here reporting that scientists have done some funky molecular-level experiments with rats or republicans and a cure is on the horizon, but I cannot. To my knowledge, nobody is working on a cure, heck, I don’t think that anyone believes that a cure can be accomplished....I hope I’m wrong.
I’m talking about PCTD, of course. PCTD renders the bass angler incredibly susceptible to things that are normally avoidable and routinely preventable by those unaffected. The poor souls suffering from PCTD are 87% more likely to get sunburn and insect bites, as well as suffer from bouts of malnutrition or dehydration. If you have PCTD you may live in an unhappy domestic situation; you may be constantly late for dinner, you may even find yourself in the middle of a Maine lake long after the sun has set, with no visible structure or cover to cast at. PCTD is a silent stalker; you may be suffering from PCTD in isolation, not realizing that the person constantly casting away in the back of your boat is dealing with this dastardly disorder too.
I first realized I was a victim of PCTD in early 2000. I’d bought a bass boat a few weeks before and was spending in inordinate amount of time fishing. It was one of those hot, humid, hazy August days and I was doing some deep cranking. I remember a feeling of stickiness all over my body. My shirt was drenched in sweat and the sun seemed like it was focused only on me- I felt like a breaded smelt in a cast iron skillet. After every cast I would realize I was incredibly thirsty. It was after all, 87 degrees in the shade and I’d been working my tail off all day with the cranking pole. I had a cooler full of ice cold bottled water and coca-cola not more than 6 feet behind me, but it didn’t help. Since I couldn’t reel in a crankbait and get something to drink at the same time, I would remind myself “after this cast, I need to get a drink”. Well...the crankbait would come closer, and closer, and closer until it was reeled up out of the water, then something in me caused an automatic reaction...I cast again. Half way through reeling this cast in I remember, again, that I really needed to get a drink but the same thing happened when I pulled the lure out of the water...I cast AGAIN. This went on for several hours. Sure, I caught a few fish, but I remained really very incredibly freaking thirsty.
In fall I like to fish a lot. Those who put the boat away in October to pursue deer or football probably do not realize how fast the temperature can drop on the water during a blustery November afternoon. Sure the days can start off warm and you’ll be very comfortable in shorts and a light sweater, but the wind and weather can pick up and blow right through you without a moment’s notice. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from Post Cast Task Disorder, you know the mental anguish this can cause. Symptoms can be triggered merely by seeing rain falling a mile across the lake. “Wow, that rain looks cold, I should put on some clothes”. Several casts later, as the clouds block out the life-giving sun you may be telling yourself “my rainsuit is in the duffle bag opposite my rod locker”. After a few more casts (and maybe even a couple nice bass) you may start to feel pin-pricks of ice cold water assailing you. “Better get that rainsuit on before I get SOAKED” you say as you take aim and make you next cast. Soon, you may be drenched and cold, standing there like some Typhoon Nargis survivor holding a 5 lb largemouth that just took a black and silver DT-16 off the top of your favorite shoal. PCTD strikes again.
Take the case of “Skeeter Joe”. By all accounts he’s your average bass angling fanatic. Truck, boat, wife, child, dog, home, trolling motor, etc. Skeet knows that he has a long drive back from the lake tonight and he also knows that his wife hates it when he is late for dinner, in fact, she can get downright volatile. Skeeter has told uncountable stories about his spouse’s feats of dangerous domicility. (He’s also related that he frequently spends a little too much time on the lake, fishing long after he should have left). “One more cast and I’m outta here” he says to himself at 8:07, 8:08, 8:09, 8:10 and again at 8:11. “OK, after his one. OK after THIS one, OK now, now NOW.... This goes on until nearly 9:15. The sunlight is already exhausted and the run back to the launch is a tricky one since his GPS is on the fritz (he is going to jiggle the wires after his next cast). Getting back to the truck, he looks at his cell phone. “17 missed calls”. “Crap, not again”. Skeeter quickly goes through the probable excuses. “Had a flat tire on the truck last week, flat tire on trailer the week before that, boat motor wouldn’t start last night, already lost 3 cell phones in the lake, all four of my co-worker’s have passed away, hit a moose, went shopping for her birthday present, had to have a fish hook extracted (that one hurt putting it in) and spun my prop off”. Nothing really left that she’d believe. If Skeeter knew he had PCTD he could be honest and open with his family and maybe, just maybe he’d be able to reconcile things.
Maybe you’ve read this article and can now take that first step toward happiness by saying “My name is Dick H.-and I have PCTD”. If this article prevents you from looking like a giant piece of turkey jerky by helping you put down that fishing pole for 30 seconds in order to apply some badly needed sunscreen, I’m happy for you. If your newfound knowledge of PCTD snaps you out of the recurring casting issue that is making you chronically late for dinner, eat up and enjoy that extra family time. Tell the little woman you are home early for dinner because you love her cooking and reap the benefits all night long. Although...she won’t believe you, and probably suspect that you weren’t fishing at all.... Tell her that smell is the bug dope she bought you six years ago and that you’ve used it and it really works. Most importantly of all, take your new diagnostic skills to the lake with you and set others free by filling them in on the silent iller, PCTD.
M.C. Bass lives in Dexter, Maine and has been a PCTD sufferer for nearly twenty years.