Here at Empire, we’re all about playing it safe. In the spirit of summer safety, we called upon competitive bass fisherman Nathan McDonald to give us tips and tricks to staying safe on the water. The dog days of summer are upon us. Some would argue that they have been here for a while, but August is normally the hottest month of the year for my area. A lot of anglers look to the cover of darkness to catch fish, but I for one choose to fish during the day. I have a few tournaments left in August, so I try to stay safe in the heat and protect my fish. Here are a few things that I do every time I am on the water during the summer.
Top Five Fishing Summer Safety Tips
Guest Post by Nathan McDonald for EmpireCovers.com
1 – Apply sunscreen early and often throughout the day. I use Coppertone in the spray bottle on my arms, legs, neck, head, and face. I apply it as soon as I get to my first stop and continue to use it until after the weigh-in. The spray bottle also keeps the sunscreen off of my hands and in return off of my baits. There have been several discussions on whether or not this affects a fish’s reaction to the lure. I choose to just avoid it all together and not take a chance.
2 – Stay hydrated and eat something every once in a while. Gatorade and water are my two best friends on the water in the summer. This is something that falls under the “practice what I preach” lecture. Last month at a tournament on Green River Lake, I nearly passed out at the weigh-in while getting my fish out of the live well. I know it sounds odd, but I find it hard to remember to drink and eat during a tournament. I just get caught up on watching my line and waiting for that bite. Drinking and eating seems to take a back seat. Try to make it a habit to grab a bottle of water every time you move to another spot.
3 – Keep an eye on the sky. This time of year, pop up storms can happen at any time. Many of these can be severe and produce dangerous lightning. At least twice this year, I have made a dash for cover during a day on the water. If you are in a tournament, it is easy to push it to the limit to get in every cast possible. You have to ask yourself, is it really worth getting hurt or worse, dying for that one extra bite? I have read to different articles this year about people in boats dying from lightning strikes this year. One was in Florida during a tournament and the other was in Kentucky during a trip on the lake just having fun. I am sure there have been countless other incidences this year that I don’t know of.
4 – Fill up your live well early in the day and use an additive. I always fill up the live well at my first stop. This will normally be when the water is at its lowest temperature in the summer. This is also when I add U2 to my live well. There are several additives on the market, and I am sure there are arguments to which one is better. My opinion is that any of them is better than not using one at all. These products will remove ammonia that builds up in the live well, relieve stress from the fish, and help repair their slime coat.
5 – Carry a fizzing needle in the boat. One important thing to do with is to learn how to use a fizzing needle. Many fish are caught in deep water during the summer months. Deep water is relative to your area and the lake that you are fishing. On most of the lakes I fish, 20 plus foot is considered deep. This does not affect all fish that are caught deep. When a fish is caught in deep water and they are reeled in rapidly, the fish’s air bladder gets air trapped inside and the fish cannot regain their equilibrium. If the air is not fizzed out, the fish will float upside down in the live well and most of the time they will die. There other products on the market to help remedy this but I like the fizzing needle. Once again, there are arguments over which is safer for the fish, but any of them is better than not doing it all.
Hopefully some of you will find these tips helpful. Most of these things are common sense, but we can never be reminded to many times when it comes to safety. Whether you are out for fun or in a tournament, please stay safe on the water.
- Nathan McDonald
- Nathan with Empire boat cover winner John McAnelly
- Nathan at USA Bassin Guist Creek Lake
- Nathan McDonald at Fagan Branch
- Nathan at Taylorsville Lake
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