Every bass boat should have a first aid kit. Even shore anglers should have a first aid kit for bass fishing. If you’ve spent any time on the water at all, you know anything can happen while bass fishing. Especially in a bass tournament, we get focused on catching that next bass and sometimes get in a hurry, and before you know it something out of the ordinary has happened that requires attention. Cuts, bee stings, or getting impaled by a hook are just a few of the many accidents that can happen. With a first aid kit, many things can be handled quickly to stop the pain and allow an angler to get back to fishing comfortably. I’ve been fishing longer than I’m willing to admit here, but in all that time I’ve pieced a few things together that I like to keep available for the “Just in case”. It’s a small kit and only takes up a few square inches in my boat, but when I need it, it’s a trip saver.
First Aid Kit for Bass Fishing
Medical tape is probably the most useful item I carry in my first aid kit. It’s strong and sticks to skin very well. If you get a cut, you can cut small strips and butterfly it across the cut to hold it together and keep fishing. Should you or a partner get a hook in your skin, remove it from the lure or line and then use the medical tape to hold it still while you transport to a hospital. I once had a partner that hooked himself during a tournament. After we taped the hook in place, he decided that he could deal with it, and we finished out the tournament. After the event, because of the tape, the skin around the hook was only slightly red and he was not in pain at all; well any that he would admit to anyway. If you have larger cuts or bleeding, tape will be necessary to hold bandages in place. Having strong tape in the boat is also good for many other uses that are not medically related.
Scissors, while not mandatory, can be very handy when it comes to cutting tape and bandages. Obviously they have many uses in a boat, but I keep a separate pair that stay in the first aid kit. This keeps them clean and ready for use in an emergency.
I have recently added a razor blade to my first aid kit. While the practice of slicing the skin in an X to remove venom from a snake bite is no longer recommended, there are times when you may need to cut skin, and a fresh, sharp razor blade is the best thing I’ve come across for this. Last year I had a situation where my partner hooked himself in his lower chest. It was in a position where we couldn’t get a good pull on it to try the “string trick”, and pushing it through proved to be extremely difficult. As we tried to push it through the pain got very bad. The hook was nearly through, but we couldn’t finish the deal. With a knife, we cut his skin slightly to allow the hook to punch on through. This would have been much easier with a razor blade.
While we’re on this topic, let’s talk about band aids and bandages. Many small cuts or blisters can be covered with a band aid and relieve a lot of pain from rubbing reels and rods. Larger issues will need bandages; I carry bandages up to 3 inches. Fortunately, I’ve never needed the bandages. In situations where you have a large hook you can’t remove, or the extreme of a hook in an eye, a bandage to help hold things still and save a person a lot of pain or eyesight. I also carry a roll of gauze. This is simply in case I run into a situation where my bandages are not enough. If you have heavy bleeding or need to wrap an arm or leg, gauze will be a huge help, and in a roll it takes up very little room.
Every time I’m at the doctor’s office I ask for some alcohol swabs. You know, the ones they wipe on your skin before they give you a shot or take your blood. These are excellent for cleaning minor cuts, scrapes or pokes while fishing. While most of us don’t worry about these minor issues, we should. If you pay attention, a poke from a fish, or a cut from fishing line takes longer to heal. This is because the environment we fish in has an extra amount of bacteria that our bodies are not used to dealing with. I’ll admit that it’s very uncommon, but if you dig in your fishing circle you will find anglers that have had illnesses that were unexplained; everything from flu-like symptoms to hospitalization. We had an angler here in Louisiana that was hospitalized for several months because of an infection that was tracked back to the vegetation in one of the lakes we fish. Many years ago, in a small town on this same lake, the first known case of “Flesh Eating Virus” was developed. I’m not saying that we should all be worried that we’re going to catch some unheard of disease while bass fishing, but some extra care isn’t going to hurt you either.
If you can’t get your doctor to give you alcohol swabs, your basic Neosporin ointment will work. Sometimes the ointment is better because it keeps your skin pliable and flexible making it more comfortable for the day.
I also talk the doctor out of a couple tongue depressors. Haven’t come up with a need for these but it seemed like a good idea at the time. My thinking was if an angler fell and broke or sprained a finger joint we could use the tongue depressor to make a splint with the tape.
I keep two kinds of pain relievers in my kit, Motrin and Tylenol. My body reacts very well to Motrin. I carry both just in case an angler I’m fishing with would prefer Tylenol. A headache is no fun on the water, plus if you have a minor issue both can help with pain. Keep in mind that Motrin is better for swelling issues if your stomach can handle it.
Another medication that should be considered is an EPI Pen for those that are allergic to things in the wild. Most of us would never need this, but I hear guys tell me all the time that they are highly allergic to bee stings. These same anglers don’t carry protection. Here in Louisiana that is almost a death sentence. If you are one of the unfortunate anglers that will have a dangerous reaction to anything in the wild, please carry the necessary precautions. If you have to carry an EPI Pen, verify the expiration regularly to make sure it will be effective if you need it.
A small Ace Bandage can be a trip saver. I suffer from wrist and elbow pain regularly on the water. If it flares up, I take the Motrin and wrap whichever is bothering me in the Ace Bandage; the extra support can usually get me through the day a lot more comfortably.
Hemostats are a very useful tool for removing hooks from bass, but they can also be very useful in your first aid kit. The next time one of your children needs sewing up, ask the nurse for the tools; they are going to throw them away anyway, and will usually give them to you. They can be used to remove hooks, or simply to hold things in place so you can work on them.
Finally, there are a few things that I’ve added over the years that may or may not be of interest to anyone but me. Eye drops: for when your eyes are itching or you get something in them; eye drops will seem like a life saver. Tweezers: there are some things that are extremely irritating yet so small that your hemostats can’t get to it; say a bee stinger, for example.
These are a few simple things that will be useful should minor accidents happen when on the water. Without them, some of the simplest things can become overwhelming and ruin a day on the lake. This list is not all inclusive, but merely what I carry. Tape, Scissors, a razor blade, band aids, bandages and gauze, alcohol swabs or Neosporin, a tongue depressor, Motrin and Tylenol, an EPI Pen, an Ace Bandage, Hemostats, eye drops, and tweezers. It all fits in a small Tupperware container in the corner of my rod locker, and presents zero storage issues. If you’re nice, the next time you visit the doctor’s office you can talk the nurse out of most of these items; if you didn’t notice it’s pretty much what they have in their standard room kit. Visit the Ultimate Bass forums to see further discussion on this subject, and see what other anglers have found handy.
Get the Net it’s a Hawg