Safety measures for summer fishing

(Photo courtesy Victoria Thomas)

Mother Nature fired a shot across our collective bow in May.

Remember that first week? Remember the 90-degree days? And that was the dead middle of spring.

Imagine what the dead middle of summer might bring.

Hopefully, and we’d best say plenty of prayers, we don’t have a repeat of last summer’s record-breaking heat.

Moreover, we need to add even more prayers to keep us safe from hurricanes. Somehow, it seems, we’re due.

But, there’s more to surviving any southern summer in the outdoors.

Sun, bugs, more sun, more bugs, visible and invisible, and blistering, strength-sapping heat combine to make venturing outdoors more than a grand adventure  — it can be deadly.

What’s more, we have to add safety on the water. More of us trek to our favorite saltwater and freshwater spots in the late spring and summer than any other time of the year, and lots of that activity involves boating.

Life jackets

Children must wear life jackets when the boat is underway. Records are kept that show that drowning accounts for a majority of the fatalities in boating accidents, and that more than 70 percent of those victims were not wearing a life jacket.

Slowing down will help, too. Learning the rules of the road on our waterways. Avoid alcohol. Not only because it will keep you more alert on the water, but also because state agents have increased DWI patrolling on our waterways during these busy months.


Folks have come up with at least a hundred ways to keep from getting bit by mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes spread diseases, most of which modern man has been able to quash. Still, sometime during every summer, we hear reports of one or more (sometimes many more) of our neighbors contracting encephalitis, a mosquito-borne disease with serious and sometimes fatal consequences.

We know when these pesky bugs come out. Morning and evening into night, right? Use repellent. OK, maybe not all those high DEET (very effective) compounds, but make sure you protect children with something that works.

I ran across something for the kids. It’s from The Natural Patch Company (NatPat), and it’s a product called “Buzz Patch — Mosquito Repellent Stickers.” A pouch contains 60 decorative patches to stick on kids’ clothes and hats to keep mosquitoes from attacking our children. I have used them on a child, and they work. No bites.

There’s an adult version of the patches, too. Just follow instructions on the pouch. Believe you can find them on Amazon (where else?) and you can search for the company for other options.

And, if you miss using repellent, NatPat has itch relief patches.


These days, our sun is more dangerous than mosquitoes. Skin cancer is rising mostly because lots of folks don’t take precautions when venturing out and under summer’s high and bright sky.

Remember when SPF 20 was considered good enough. Now some doctors recommend SPF 50 for the more fair skinned.

No matter, find a sunscreen you like and apply it a few minutes before going outdoors — and reapply every two hours or so, depending on how much you sweat.

Don’t be like us old guys who didn’t use sunscreen in our younger days and are paying the price for that omission today. Too many of us older fishermen are making far too many trips to dermatologists these days to not send along a message about how important it is to use sunscreen.

Just a note here. Never been a big product endorser, but NatPat also has come up with something to protect skin. “Sunny Patch” is a sticker you put on your skin. There are a series of colors on the strip that monitor the sun’s intensity and will indicate when it’s time to reapply sunscreen.

Invisible bugs

Vibrio is a bacteria found along our coast, and the danger here is this bacteria entering a wound, something even as minor as a prick from a hook you might get on a fishing trip.

Yes, you can get it surf fishing if you have an open cut.

One form of vibrio eats flesh and can spread quickly.

Lots of fishermen have taken to mixing chlorine bleach in a spray bottle and carrying it on fishing trips. The Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries advises anglers to carry a basic disinfectant (chlorine bleach mixed one part bleach to four parts freshwater). Get a cut or a puncture wound and apply the mixture immediately.

It’s why you see saltwater rodeo weighmasters rinsing their hands in a bucket filled with this mix after weighing fish.

Betadine works, too. You can find it at most pharmacies.


I went fishing with Dave Bulthuis. Before retiring last year, Dave was a VP with a major sunglasses maker, and the talk around the dinner table was about his and other products like his.

Like skin, eyes take a beating from the sun, and his words hit home.

“I see guys everywhere who’ll spend $200 or more on a fishing reel, then buy a $5 pair of sunglasses,” he said. “And they’ll buy more of those reels, but not invest the same amount on sunglasses that can save their eyes. I don’t understand that.

“There are several companies making good sunglasses, and while we’re in competition, we’re delivering the same message — anyone who spends time in the outdoors needs to protect their eyes.”

His message hit home when he sat down with an eye doctor, who told him about ultraviolet keratitis (staring at or near the sun for long periods), cataracts, growths on your eye, macular degeneration and cancer. Any number of websites on this subject will have loads of information. Try the Cleveland Clinic and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

It’s there you can find information on how to protect your eyes against UVA, UVB and UVC rays, and learn it’s the UVB rays causing the most damage to eyes and skin.

And, Dave said, wearing a hat with a brim wide enough to protect your eyes helps, too.


Drink water with an occasional shot of “sports drinks.” Most doctors say drink two ounces of water for every ounce of sports liquids.

They also said during the summer it’s important to drink cold liquids, and during peak hours (or when you’re sweating) drink something every 15-20 minutes.

Bring cooling towels, too, and if you stop sweating, it’s time to cool down and rehydrate as quickly as possible.

Enjoy your summer.

And stay safe!

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