Recently, I was enjoying a quiet morning on the boat, all by myself, catching several fish in a remote place on the lower end of the Apalachicola River system. The bass were chomping on my top-water jerkbait like they’d never seen one before, and I got complacent while de-hooking one. The fish made a sudden, violent shake and suddenly I had two hooks in my hand with a flopping fish on the jerk-bait’s third hook. This is one of the many hazards anglers should be prepared for when they occur; and hazards WILL occur, it’s just a matter of time.
Being an old experienced salt, the removal of those hooks from my hand was not that big of a deal; it just took some time because I was alone and had only one hand to use. Had that happened to an angler who’s never had a hook in his hand, it might have been a different story. Imagine this happening to your child, an elderly person or a loved one… would you know what to do?
Obvious hazards like foul weather, high winds and extreme cold are easy to negotiate as a recreational angler; you just don’t go that day! It’s the calm, pleasant, inviting days when you least expect some hazardous event to take place that they seem to occur.
My intent is to inspire you to prepare for the unexpected as best you can. There are way too many hazardous scenarios that could play out in a day of fishing, so the following is just an overview of a strategy.
People getting hooked, cut or falling in or out of a boat are likely the most common hazards anglers experience.
Make sure everyone on board knows exactly where lifejackets and throw cushions are located and how and why to use them. Lifejackets are obvious, but some might not realize the importance of the throw cushion. When someone falls overboard, it’s imperative that someone keeps their eyes on him to maintain his location and get a cushion tossed to him immediately! You’d be surprised how quickly this scenario can turn bad, so make sure all aboard know the drill.
A basic first-aid kit on board is a good start for tending to cuts, sprains and burns, but be sure to take the next step and keep a few extra items like duct tape, rescue tape, zip ties, super glue, etc. Also make sure you know how to remove hooks and be able to determine if a hooked situation is something that can be treated on the water or if a trip to the ER is required.
As a licensed Captain and retired military, I’ve had plenty of training with first aid, CPR, and other emergency matters, but many folks on the water have not. If you captain a vessel, be sure to get this kind of training. You owe it to the people who rely on you out there.
Captain Randy “C-note” Cnota is co-publisher of the Panama City/Forgotten Coast edition of Coastal Angler Magazine.