Let’s start with a simple reality check. Why do you go fishing? Most people would say, “To catch fish, of course!”. But if you really think about the entire process of “going fishing” it’s a combination of;
- spending quality time outdoors with family and friends
- learning about aquatic ecosystems (how to catch fish)
- creating lasting memories while reducing stress
- the fun and anticipation of possibly catching fish
And what’s the one single thing that can keep you from enjoying all of the 4 main reasons for going fishing? Getting injured or killed while fishing. Any guesses what the leading causes of those injuries or deaths? The U.S. coast Guard confirms that, human errors remain the leading causes of boating accidents. The best way to prevent those human errors is with education and by following your fishing safety plan. So let’s review your easy-peasy plan to keep you and your fishing peeps safe by becoming a smart angler.
But first, watch the video on this page and make a list of all the safe-n-smart things this crew does, plus what other things they could do to make their fishing adventure even safer. Please note that we’re not your complete solution to boating and fishing safety. In fact, we recommend that you take a certified boating safety course to protect your life and the lives of your friends and family. It’s one of the smartest things you can do as an angler, plus it’s required in most states as part of registered boating. Here’s how to get certified to be a safe and smart boater and angler when you’re on boats. https://www.boat-ed.com/
1. Wear Your PFD – The math is pretty simple on this one. If 84% of the people who drown each year failed to be wearing a PFD (personal flotation device), then you stand an 84% better chance of coming back from every fishing trip by wearing your PFD. Duaah. No rocket science required for this part of your plan. And before you boast about “being such a good swimmer”, consider how many good swimmers perished because:
- Their boat capsized or sank in rough water
- They were thrown from the boat as a result of a collision
- They were injured by rocks or submerged objects
- They were tossed into freezing water
- They were thrown off balance and fell while fishing
- They were unable to swim because of heavy or waterlogged clothing
So rule number 1 in your plan is – own your own and always wear your approved PFD while fishing, especially when the boat is moving under power. For the complete guide on selecting your PFD, visit this U.S. Coast Guard page… https://www.uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters/life-jacket-wear-wearing-your-life-jacket.php
2. Use The Buddy System – Ask any seasoned angler if they ever had a dangerous fishing incident and many will tell you that bad things happened when they were alone. So the smart solution is to always go fishing with a buddy. Your buddy can both help prevent accidents from happening in the first place and help rescue you (or you rescue them) if something goes wrong. Plus, most anglers admit that their best fishing adventures were with their buddy sharing in both the fun, memories, and yes, safety. And the best fishing buddies are the ones who have also taken boating safety and take an active role sharing your safe fishing plan.
3. File A Float Plan – When you’re fishing, it’s only natural that you’re looking for that secret, out-of-the-way or distant spot where you’ll catch the big ones. That also means that you’ll likely end up where nobody else knows where in the heck you’re at if you need help. So safe-n-smart anglers take a few moments to fill out and file a float plan, that you email or give it to two persons you know. Google Maps and cell phone apps make it easy and accurate. It can be a simple float plan of exactly where you’re going with, and who, plus when you expect to return. But the more details you can provide, the more you empower others to help rescue you if you don’t return on time. The Coast Guard makes it easy and complete with their free downloadable PDF Float Plan that you can fill in and email to responsible friends or family. And don’t forget that float plan safety includes everyone on board bringing a full-charged cell phone in a waterproof container. And when you’re home safe at the end of the trip, don’t forget to call the people you gave your float plan to and let them know you’re home safely.
4. The Elements – We already know that you’re smart because you’re planning for angling success. Now make your safe fishing adventure complete by planning to keep that body of yours safe from the elements. And don’t say, “Oh, it’s a beautiful day, no worries.” You won’t enjoy the trip if you’re cold, thirsty, sunburned, or ill. So pack and bring your personal safety sack with:
- Sun Protection – Full brimmed hat, sunglasses, long pants and shirt, sun-screen, and consider the new styles of clothing and face masks that protect your head and face
- Hydration – Dehydration is a leading cause of feeling ill during outdoor adventures. So take and drink plenty of water or a sports drink with electrolytes. Medical professionals recommend 60 ounces a day of hydration to keep your body properly hydrated.
- Dress for the elements – Bring clothing for the expected weather on open water so that you don’t get cold, wet and end up being miserable. It’s often cooler and windier on lakes. So windbreakers, an extra layer and rain-gear are a minimum.
- First-Aid Kit – Imagine what might happen when you combine sharp hooks, fishing line, fish teeth, fish spines, and too much excitement? No, don’t be afraid to go fishing. Simply take along a compact first aid kit to mend and treat minor nicks, cut, pokes and abrasions.
Ice fishing during the winter presents a whole new set of safety concerns. If you’re up for fishing through the ice, research and develop a specialized safety plan for that and definitely follow the buddy system and check out the helpful ice fishing safety resources here from our friends at takemefishing.org.
For all kinds of other helpful information and resources on how kids can learn where-to and how-to go fishing, explore our companion KidsFishing.US website. To discover more about becoming a future angler, visit our educational partners that helped make this video, webpage and lesson possible by clicking on their logos below.
To really get serious about being a safe boater, take the complete online boating safety course using the link below.
Official Boater Safety Courses
and Boat Safety Education Materials