In February I wrote an article on cold weather wading tips. I truly hope the tips and suggestions helped everybody get through the winter fishing months safely. With this being July, and the “Dog Days” of summer upon us I wanted to share some tips for remaining safe through the summer fishing months. To me summer fishing means Smallie fishing on the Brandywine, night time Largemouth fishing on a farm pond, or chasing many of our salt water species at one of our local beaches. All of these are great fishing opportunities, and thought and preparation should be taken before heading out in the summer months.
This spring has been very different than years past. Heavy and repeated rains have us fishing high water conditions at the start of the summer months. High water presents a unique set of challenges, a set we are not used to. Hard running and off colored water can present all types of issues for the wading angler. An angler can be swept off his or her feet by hard rushing water. Underwater obstructions such as rocks, logs, or deeper holes may not be visible if the water is dingy. Spots that are normally easy wading can become extremely dangerous with just a slight rise in CFS (cubic feet of water per second) so always wade cautiously and unless absolutely necessary don’t wade in water that is above your mid thigh. A wading staff may be a good choice at times like this even if you don’t usually use one. You can use the staff to “probe” the river bottom in front of you in search of potential danger. If wearing chest waders NEVER go in the water without your wading belt. This might be one of the most important tips in this article. Fishing with a partner is also a good idea during high water flows and in extreme conditions an inflatable PFD may be a good idea. It is rare, if ever, you will see me on the Indian River jetty without a PFD. Heavy water flows in Pulaski may warrant the use of a PFD as well. Remember, better to have and not need than to need and not have.
The second major concern while fishing in the summer if sun protection. I know when we all were younger we never really gave a thought to protecting ourselves from the sun. Nowadays however we all should be diligent about this often overlooked step in our fishing preparation. We have all seen the negative effects the sun can have on our skin, many of us first hand. I won’t get into specifics of sun damage, which is a totally different type of article. The message here is to cover up! Let’s start at the top and work our way down. A good hat can be a godsend when spending a long day out in the sun. Full brim or Sombrero type hats offer the best protection. If you prefer a baseball style hat as I do you may want to add a Buff so you can pull it up over your ears and the back of your neck. Many of our clothing manufactures offer clothing designed specifically for sun protection. Shirts and pants with UPF protection built into the fabric are very popular. Flats style tropical shirts are a great choice, as are the more form fitting “solar” shirts. One product I am really excited about is the Sun Pro Hoodie by Redington. This light weight pullover hoodie has Versa Sun UPF protection built into the fabric and is right at home on a boat as well as wading the river. Typically in the summer we are wet wading. Shorts are fine; we prefer a tropical pant like the Redington Versa Pant. This quick drying pant will allow you to cool down in the water, but still offer some protection from the sun as well as what may be in the water. If you wear shorts be sure to put sun block on and continue to re-apply throughout the day. Lastly, and maybe the most important may be the back of our hands. This is possibly the single most overlooked area and consequently the area with the most skin issues. Again, sun block is fine if you remember to re-apply. A more permanent choice would be a quality sun glove form Simms, Buff, or Water Works Lamson. What ever type of sun protection you prefer please be sure to protect yourself each and every time you go out.
Possibly the most important issue we deal with when fishing while the mercury is pushing 100+ degrees is the threat of dehydration. If you have ever experienced this condition as I have you know it is not something you want to do more than once. In preparing to write this section I talked with 2 doctors and my wife who is a nurse. Their list of symptoms were very similar; dizziness and light headed, blurry vision, headache, nausea, profuse sweating, and in extreme cases vomiting and loss of conciseness. One thing that I found enlightening is that all three medical professionals, while interviewed separately, all had the same words of caution. “Once you start to experience symptoms you are already in stage two or stage three dehydration”. Laymen’s terms, when you notice it, it is already too late! They also said the best cure for dehydration is very simple; don’t get dehydrated in the first place. If you know you will be on the water during a severe weather day be sure to start your preparation in the morning, maybe the night before. Drink water! Avoid coffee, sodas, and alcoholic beverages as these drinks can actually aid in flushing water from your system. Drink water. Have a glass or two of water at dinner the night before. And one or two more at breakfast. Cary water with you on the river and continue to drink it throughout the day. A few normal sips every half hour or so is much better than “chugging” an entire bottle at one time. The internet is full of great information about dehydration and how to prevent it. The next time you are in to see your doctor you might want to have a discussion with him or her about the subject. Which ever method you choose please be informed about this dangerous condition so you are prepared to head out when the weather is less than perfect.
I truly hope these tips will help everybody have a safe and fun summer fishing season.