How To Fish Safely

Pete had been fishing with the new bass lure he had seen advertised on television. It was a good looking plug, and it cost a pretty penny.

When he met total resistance on his fifth cast, he was sure he had landed a trophy fish. A minute later, he knew he had snagged a log. He fought to free the expensive lure, but it wouldn’t budge.

For added leverage, he stood in his boat and yanked with all his strength. When the lure broke free, it rocketed from the water and he lost his balance. The plug lodged in his cheek as he toppled backward into the lake.

A doctor had to remove the treble hooks from his face. Knowing he had narrowly escaped being blinded and drowned, Pete called it a day and headed for the golf course, where there would be no talk of the one that got away.

Annually, over 60,000 fishing injuries require emergency room treatment. Eye injuries from fishing are the No. 1 sports-related eye injury.

Most fishing injuries are caused by fishing hooks, while most fatalities are the result of drowning. To fish safely:

In A Boat

* Always wear a Coast Guard approved lifejacket.

* Never overload your boat.

* Load the boat properly, keeping the heaviest items in the middle and bottom of the boat.

* Before taking out any boat, make sure it is equipped with an extra oar or paddle, a bailing can, an anchor and line, and if motorized, a full gas can.

* Change positions only on shore or in shallow water.

* In a storm, lie low in the boat. To avoid being tipped, point the bow of the boat into the waves.

* Exercise special caution around dams. The falling water creates a back current that can pull a small boat into its turbulence and cause it to capsize.

* At night, slow down and use running and marker lights.

* If the boat capsizes, stay with it until help arrives. Do not remove your clothing or boots. They will keep you afloat by holding air, and they will keep you warm.

* Avoid alcohol use.

In A Stream

* Never wade alone, and wear your lifejacket.

* Wear cleated or felt-soled waders or boots that will provide maximum traction on the slippery rocks underfoot.

* Unseen holes or drop-offs are a dangerous hazard. Test each step carefully in advance by taking a tentative shuffle. Better yet, use a wading staff to measure the depth of the water before each step.

In Any Event

* Carry a radio for weather information, and a cell phone for emergencies.

* Dress with the weather in mind, preferably in layers. Pack a wind-and waterproof outer shell.

* Wear properly fitted eye protection that covers the eye socket to guard against hooks and glare. Polycarbonate lenses are recommended for their strength and protective capabilities.

* Do not cast over a companion’s head. Always look around before making a cast.

* Carry sharp pliers and disinfectant in your first aid kit.

* When landing a fish, work from the rear of the boat. Use a net.

* Ease a fish out of the water. Yanking it into the boat can release the fish and create a dangerous sling shot effect.

* To remove the hook, wait until the fish is exhausted. Use a special gripping glove, and know the techniques for each species.

* Be especially careful dislodging lures and hooks from submerged branches or roots. Invest in a lure retriever to do the work.

* If you are snagged by your own hook, do not try to back it out. Instead, push it through the skin until the point and the barb are exposed.

Snip them off; also snip off the eyelet. Now pull the smooth hook through your skin following its natural arc. Cleanse the wound and apply disinfectant. Watch for infection.

* Look out for overhead electrical lines, especially around the dock and in an unfamiliar stretch of water.

* Carry your rod parallel to the ground whenever possible.

* Don’t fish from railroad trestles. You’re the one who may be caught.

John Myre is the author of the award-winning book, Live Safely in a Dangerous World, and the publisher of the Safety Times Reproducible Articles..

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