Bass Fishing in the summer can bring dangerous situations many anglers don’t realize are happening until it’s too late. Heat related injuries range from strained muscles to fatigue to headaches and in extreme cases can lead to death. Simple precautions can prevent all of these. Planning to fish in the heat is as important to a successful bass fishing trip as prefishing, re-tying baits, or studying a contour map. If you’re not prepared to handle the heat, your body will shut you down, and your outing will be cut short.
When bass fishing in the heat of the summer I like to plan my trips early in the day, getting to the water just before daybreak and leaving by noon. This gets me off the water before it gets to hot and before the majority of the pleasure boaters show up, saving on a lot of frustrations. If I know I will be fishing all day, or at least well into the afternoon, I make sure I have a partner with me. With a partner, you can keep an eye on each other for heat related symptoms, remind each other to drink fluids, and help should something happen that requires attention.
Drinking plenty of fluids is a must. We’ve all read it, been preached, and you probably have also preached it. Stay away from the sodas, we all know water is best, if you have to don’t bring anything but water. I carry water and Gatorade with me. You can’t rely upon sports drinks alone; it is very important to bring water. There are published rules about how much water intake a person of a certain size should drink while in the heat; however, everyone is different. These values may cause one person to float away, while not be enough for another. I recommend you drink as much as you can stand. For me personally, if it is hot enough that I am sweating while fishing, I try to drink a bottle of water an hour as a minimum.
Every notice, if you have it, that fishing elbow gets worse in the summer. Something many people don’t know is that sore muscles and joints can be heat related issues. Keeping your fluid level up will help keep joints and muscles lubricated and working properly. I have also found that stretching before fishing (year round but especially in the summer months) has a huge impact at how well I feel at the end of a day of fishing. As kids, we can play, run, jump and do just about anything and never feel or think twice about it. But there is a reason that professional athletes “Warm Up” before games. Stretching loosens your muscles and tendons and gets fluids moved to them, so they work properly. Every morning I have a routine that evolves back, leg and arm stretching exercises. While not a cure all, I have found these to be extremely helpful.
There are many symptoms of overheating. The two that most commonly happen first and should be watched for are fatigue and lack of perspiration. If you have a sudden, overwhelming feeling of weakness, or you have stopped sweating, you need to seek shelter from the heat immediately. Everyone is different, and there is no way of telling which of these two will show up first. Other early signs of overheating; headache, muscle ache, cramps, blurred vision, and confusion. All of these are pretty easy to spot in yourself or your fishing partner if you are paying attention.
Should go without saying but so many times we forget the sun block! I have two fixes for this. First is I keep a tube of 50 SPF in the boat. If I need the spare in the boat, it’s because I forgot to put it on before I left the house and I will need something very strong to take effect. My original plan. During the summer months, I keep spray on sun block on my bathroom counter next to my tooth paste. So when I get up and splash water on my face and brush my teeth, the very next thing is to spray my arms, face, legs, and feet with sun block. This gives the sun block anywhere from 1-2 hours to soak in before getting in the sun and is very effective.
Before your next outing be sure to bring plenty of water, do some simple stretching, and use the sun block before you leave the house and see if you don’t feel much better out of the water and when you get home after a great day of fishing.
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