When most recreational anglers think of fishing, they usually think of one of two things. Either nice relaxing time where they can casually cast and sip a beer, or a giving it all they got on an epic strike in order to land that beautiful trophy. In reality, fishing usually ends up being a mix of the two. Those who intend to relax more often find it difficult to hold back their competitive edge, and those who plan on catching beasts may find it difficult to relax when the biting is slow.
So what does this all have to do with fishing safety? Generally speaking, the fact that someone’s plans didn’t exactly align with what ended up happening means there is a good chance they didn’t prepare appropriately for the situation as well. Most of the time, this goes unnoticed, as the fisherman will simply return home after a long days casting thinking about the next trip they can take. But in the worst case scenario, something can go wrong that can potentially threaten your health.
What We’ve Seen in Florida
If you browse around looking for information on injuries and/or survival strategies in fishing, lots of this focuses on preventing hypothermia or cold nights. While this is definitely important, we will only be speaking form experience in this article, so we will focus on what we have seen in our region, one that is quite tropical.
If you’re heading out to do some long-awaited fishing, we would encourage you to try and understand the major species in the area, how they behave, and if they have any dangers associated with them (e.g. extra sharp dorsal fins, pronounced teeth, etc). Even if you’re going on a charter, it’s easy to miss this pertinent information or simply have a lapse in judgement among all the excitement after landing a fish.
The main types of cuts we have seen are from anglers being too anxious to get into the fishes mouth and release that hook. Whether it’s from their teeth, or from the angler not being patient enough and getting too close to an agitated fish without a secure hold (and subsequently receiving a gash from a dorsal fin), these cuts can be highly painful and substantial in terms of length an depth.
This is why knowing a little more about the species’ tendencies may come in handy. Not only will you know if they have specific fins or teeth to avoid, but you will learn more about their usual habits in general, which should ultimately make you more equipped to catch one as well! Even if you’re on a charter where you receive expert knowledge, a group setting is never perfect, so please try and keep this advice in mind even for charters.
Elbow Pain with Casting
If you’re young and healthy, or if you don’t fish every single day, you may be thinking “what?”. We understand; however, so will you as you get up in age or increase your time spent fishing dramatically. Elbow pain is actually really common with those who fish everyday, and we’re not talking about general aches and pains. This type of elbow pain is caused by repetitive casting, and it’s the most painful during casting, so you can imagine the frustration when you begin to develop this pain.
It all has to do with the tendons around the elbow. The muscles in your upper arm (e.g. biceps) all turn cross the elbow joint to attach onto the upper forearm area. By the time the muscles cross over the elbow, they are already tendons at this point (tendons connect muscle to bone), so you don’t really see or notice them in the elbow area. That said, with repetitive casting, the same tendons continuously slide back and forth over the bony bumps in the elbow joint. This causes the tendons to become irritated, and soon you’re stuck in a cycle where every cast makes it hurt more.
So what do you do? There are some remedies for pain, such as Tylenol and Advil, as well as ice or heat, but these really don’t do much to actually treat the condition. In this case, the condition is pretty much the same as Tennis elbow or Golfer’s elbow, which are much more commonly known. They also result from repetitive arm motion, and the difference basically lies in which tendons are affected. In fishing, it can be either, as it will depend on how you cast, particularly forehand vs. backhand casting.
So while you can take pain medications to help get you through your day of casting, that will do nothing to actually treat the problem. Unfortunately, rest is usually the best option, with the biggest drawback being reduced time spent fishing. Additionally, these are often nagging injuries that hang around and re-appear anyway.
One more thing you can do to help yourself is wearing a strap around your elbow. Better known as golfers elbow straps or tennis elbow straps, these are cheap and minimal ways to help take the stress off those tendons while you cast. They are really simple, just tight straps that place a pressure point on a certain area of the tendon. This will alter the line of pull of the tendon just slightly, but won’t affect your actual performance. In this way, you are basically resting your tendon while still being able to cast! They aren’t perfect solutions, but something that can help you balance an appropriate amount of rest with an appropriate amount of fishing!
There are many more injuries and general safety items to consider when fishing, but we just wanted to highlight a coupe things we have seen more commonly in the area that most people don’t really think about. We would place more emphasis on our section related to cuts and other acute wounds, as those are typically more urgent situations. Just be prepared for the worst, bring a small medical pack with an appropriate amount of bandage or gauze material as well as some sort of sanitization substance. In terms of elbow pain, just keep those listed solutions in mind, but doctors, and especially physiotherapists are well-versed in solving these problems as well, so don’t hesitate to seek professional help to get you back on the water as soon as possible!