The water is wonderful, the day is glorious, and the fishing is the best until… Suddenly you set the hook into your finger, arm, lip, or another body part or buddy. Maybe you slip and fall. Perhaps you get eyes full of bugs. There are so many ways to get hurt when fishing. Fishing involves sharp hooks, sharp knives, pointy sticks, gaffs, sharp teeth, slippery surfaces, bright light, insects and bugs, and so many other things that may require First, second, and third aid!
If you were a Boy or Girl Scout, then you may have some ideas on what to do next. Fishing Guides and adults have often had more advanced training. Smart fishermen carry along a modern First Aid Kit.
On one fishing adventure, a crewmember had a Bluefish take a bite on his finger. They are called Snappers for a reason. When the Captain brought over the vintage First Aid Kit, it was worse than something from WW1! The band aids had all separated from the protective papers. Any saves or lotions had dried up. The tape was brittle and as discolored as the gauze. It was worthless.
So, what to do? We got a bucket of salty Bay water and rinsed thoroughly. Another crewmember had some sanitary wipes. These alcohol wipes cleaned things up. Next, we added a section of clean cotton handkerchief, that was sterilized with a lighter. A strip of Duct Tape was wrapped around the impromptu bandage and, ta dah, we were back to fishing.
The bleeding stopped, no one died or got sick, we filled the cooler, and I bought a new First Aid Kit for the Captain. All is well that ends well.
The Best First Aid is to anticipate accidents before they happen. First, require that everyone wear a pair of polarized sunglasses. This protects your eyes from bright reflected light, airborne insects, sharp sticks and hooks, all while helping you see fish in the water.
Closed toe boat shoes are good for keeping traction on a wet deck, and protecting feet and toes from sharp teeth, hooks, gaffs, and fins. I know that flip flops are cool and comfortable, but a Bluefish or pike can chomp them right off. I once saw a warned fisherman step onto the back of a big catfish’s dorsal fin. The flip flop sandwiched nicely when the huge dorsal spine went through the flop and foot.
Barbed hooks are perhaps the most common injury. Fishermen wear them in their ears, lips, nose, brow, feet, fingers and… Learn how to use the loop string to pull the hook painlessly out. Wrap the loop of a 16-inch line around the hooks bend. Now use one hand to press down on the hooks eye, into the victim’s skin. Pull sharply and the hook will slide out nicely. If you don’t believe me, get out a meat roast and stick some barbed hooks into it for practice.
Burns, drowning, hypothermia, and so many other things can ruin your day. Anticipate the risks and prepare accordingly. A refresher training course never hurts!
Get hooked on staying safe!