Have a fishing safety plan that includes the right life vest, marine first aid kit, marine radio or cell phone for communication, and letting someone know where you will be fishing. As great and fun as fishing can be, not having a plan for the unexpected could turn an exciting outing into one you will want to forget. Here are some great reminders:
A good fishing safety plan includes remembering that you will either be in a boat on the water or certainly near the water and may end up wet. Every year you read about a anglers who drown, therefore water safety is first on the list. Even if you are a good swimmer, you should exercise caution around water. The water could be cold, your clothes will be heavier than expected when wet, you might even hit your head if you fall in. Important reminders: Go fishing with a friend, tell family or friends where you are going to fish, wear a life vest, and when on a boat always have a throw cushion for emergencies. Even the most experienced anglers could slip, fall and hit their head. A fall into the water without a life vest is dangerous. Fishing with a friend can help you get out of the water. The first vest below is a newer version, light weight, and automatic. The second vest is a more traditional vest, both work nicely.
Never go wading to fish without first learning about the bottom contour of the lake, pond or stream you are wanting to fish to avoid unseen holes or rocks on the bottom. A rope, long pole and a throwable floatation cushion can be great items to pack depending on the location you will fish and how many people will be there fishing with you. These can be used to assist someone who has fallen into the water. Rule number one: always exercise fishing safety around the water.
Perhaps the most common fishing safety concern is sticking a hook in a hand or finger. Learn how to handle sharp fish hooks. Caution must be used when handling and casting them. Know who is around you when fishing. Position your self away from other anglers, so that when casting you will not hook them, and when they cast they won't hook you. The other two ways you are most apt to get stuck with a hook are when baiting your hook, and when removing hooks from caught fish.
A hook can come out of a squirming fish and go into someone's hand or arm before you can say the word ouch. When baiting your hook or tying your lure onto your line allow extra line off your reel so that there is no pressure pulling the line back into the reel. A good idea is to wear a protective glove when you pick up a caught fish. Take the pressure off the lure, lay your rod down so that your line is limp, then you can remove the hook with pliers while securely holding the fish.
Be prepared for on the water injuries by choosing from a wide variety of marine first aid kits. A good kit will have bandages, antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, tweezer, pain reliever, anti-inflammatory medication, and a bee-sting kit. If you fish enough you will experience at least a hook stick deep enough to draw blood, and to need cleansing and a bandaid.
If you or a friend experience a deep hook stick where the barb has entered the skin this is a bit more difficult to deal with. You should have a sturdy stainless steel long nose plier and heavy wire nipper ready for this. These tools can assist in the removal of the hook. Cleanse the area with your antiseptic wipes. Using the long nose plier push the hook so that the barb comes through the soft tissue. Then using the wire cutter, cut off the end with the eye and finish pulling the hook out pull it out holding the barbed end.
If the barbed end of the hook is deep into connective tissue like in the joint of your thumb, or is really painful, don't forget you can always make a trip to the Emergency Room. This means that you need to know the location of the nearest emergency room. The heavy duty wire cutters can be used to cut away the hook from any lure so that you can make this trip with ease.
The next most most common skin prick causing bleeding is caused by a fin or gill plate of caught fish. In the heat of the battle to real in your prize catch you may forget to be cautious when you bring it into the boat. Now just a little bit of fishing safety advice will protect your hands as you remove the hook, take a picture, and/or place your catch in the live well or on a stringer. Fins are meant to protect the fish from predators which means they have sharp points. Fins and gills bend down onto the fish in one direction, but stand up firm if pushed in the opposite direction. Use this to your advantage by pressing them flat against the fish firmly. Talk to your fishing pro at your local bait shop about a fish handling glove if you are uncertain how to handle the fish in the beginning.
Exercising fishing safety means to protect your self from weather elements. Wear sunscreen on exposed skin of at least 15. PFT uses coppertone sport lotion. Wear a hat and polarized UV blocking sunglasses. The hat will help block the sun, and can protect from errant hook casts. Wearing sunglasses will protect from harmful rays getting into the eyes, and also be a barrier against flying hooks. (Polarized lenses will cut glare from the water surface and improve your ability to see beneath the surface of the water.)
Bug repellant is important to fishing safety for two reasons: multiple bug bites can cause illness, and lots of bugs around can ruin a fishing outing. Use bug repellant on exposed skin and clothing. Mosquittos, biting flies, bees and ticks can cause an outing to be miserable. There are a lot of brands of great insect repellants out there that will greatly minimize this risk. You can even find clothing pre treated with bug repellant, and there are brands of spray bug repellant you can use to treat your garments that will continue to work through several washings. The Sawyer product works great on clothing - including helping to repel ticks when walking through the woods to get to your fishing spot or hunting deer or turkey. The bug repellants below work against a wide variety of insects, including "No See Ums". Avon Skin so Soft...
Safety concerns increase when working with young or new anglers. Teashing fishing safety to the younger anglers results in a lifetime of enjoyable fishing. While learning to cast, the younger the angler the more adult supervision is needed. The more young anglers there are in a general area the more adult supervisers are needed. For a young angler, fishing with friends can be wonderful but really distracting. This becomes a common place to hook that friend because of carelessness, or simply not placing enough distance between themselves. Insist that young anglers maintain proper distance from one another and also wear life vests. You can never be too young to instill fishing safety.
If is best when walking from your car to the water, or from one fishing spot to another to not carry a baited fishing pole. Remove the hook or lure whenever possible before transport. With or without the hook attached it is best to carry the rod/pole in an upright position to minimize the risk of breaking the tip and also minimize poking another angler with your rod.
Never trespass - there are reasons those signs are posted and often these reasons have to do with fishing safety.
Know the weather forecast for your area when going fishing. Lightening, rain or wind can ruin an outing, even cause injury. Hot or cold you will need to plan accordingly. Unless you are ice fishing, it seems that there are many more hot days than cold to go fishing. Fluid replacement is a must to really enjoy your day. Have plenty of water available to drink. You should avoid alcohol around the water. If you must, choose to drink that later, at the end of the day. Plan your meals based on how long you plan to be gone.
Have a fishing safety communication plan. Let someone back home know where you will be and when you plan to come home. Consider carrying a cell phone, marine radio, or VHS radio. Know if the your fishing area will have coverage for either of these. If fishing on a boat marine radios are helpful, as often other boaters will be able to pick up a distress call from you. If fishing with a partner 2 VHS radios will keep the two of you on contact. Pack a flashlight in case you are caught out after dark. LED flashlights come with very bright lights now, and the batteries last a long time. If fishing a long way off the beaten path, carry a portable GPS to track your way back to your vehicle.