Survive Your Fishing Experience

Safety


Learn basic safety tips, gear, and advice.


I'm writing this in the midst of COVID-19. And I strongly recommend wearing masks in public and following social distancing. But it's also important to remember there are other circumstances that can kill you. So here are 3 Basic Safety Tips, plus some bonus tips as well.

I use the NRS Chinook Fishing PFD / Life Jacket.

My previous PFD was an inflatable type. My fishing buddy and I both deactivated the automatic feature so they wouldn't inflate if we simply fell into the water.

One day I flipped my Hobie Outback. I can still remember seeing the sky roll, and then the water slip over my head. But never once did I think about pulling the cord to inflate my PFD.

Luckily I was in shallow water, and was soon standing up next to my upside-down kayak.

"The United States Coast Guard reported that paddlesport accidents from 2015 to 2017 resulted in 1,624 injuries and 758 deaths, but the number of incidents that go unreported is substantially larger."

THE OUTDOOR FOUNDATION

My previous PFD was an inflatable type. My fishing buddy and I both deactivated the automatic feature so they wouldn't inflate if we simply fell into the water.

One day I flipped my Hobie Outback. I can still remember seeing the sky roll, and then the water slip over my head. But never once did I think about pulling the cord to inflate my PFD.

Luckily I was in shallow water, and was soon standing up next to my upside-down kayak.

Why did I choose the NRS Chinook Fishing PFD / Life Jacket?

  • Inherently buoyant. This was my main reason for choosing the Chinook. I don't need to do anything for it to work, except wear it!
  • Bright orange color. The Chinook comes in various colors, but I chose the bright orange so I'd be easily visible in case of danger.
  • Versatile fit. The Chinook comes various sizes, and has straps that make it possible to create your own custom fit. I'm a heavy BassHole (275 pounds and 5'8"), and my XL/XXL Chinook has room to spare.
  • Nice back. The Chinook, like most kayak PFDs, has a raised back so it won't press on your kayak seat. Plus it has a mesh section below the inflation device, to help keep it cool in the warm weather.
  • Pockets. I love pockets, and the Chinook has 2 large zipper pockets with loops and interior security, as well as a few smaller pockets located on the front. It also has a place to anchor your safety knife and some pliers.
  • US Coast Guard Certification through Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

All of these features are great, but I can't stress enough that my main reason for choosing the PFD was because I had to do nothing to activate it. It will do its job with no further action on my part!

The Chinook is not cheap, though I honestly believe it is a great value.

If you are looking to spend a bit less, the ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket is very reasonably priced.

This was my original choice, and it seemed like a great product. However, I noticed wear on the very back section after just a few uses. The wear was not serious, but I decided to upgrade to the Chinook. Still, I would recommend the ONYX as a great choice for the cost.

Inflatable PFDs are also a great choice for comfort, range of motion, and staying cool!

CONCLUSION

  • Which PFD to use is your own personal choice.
  • Wearing a PFD while you are fishing is a must.

KNOW THE 1 - 10 - 1 RULE

If you fish in cold conditions, you MUST know the 1 - 10 -1 rule.

1 - Cold Shock. (1 minute)

For the first minute of immersion, the initial "1" in the 1 - 10 - 1 Rule, you will battle shock. 

GASP! Entering the water will result in a sudden and deep gasp, and then hyperventilation. During this period you will need to keep your airway clear to avoid drowning. Your lifejacket / PFD will help keep you afloat.  After 1 minute, the Cold Shock period will pass. Work to avoid panic and stay in control of your breathing.

"When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous system and other organs can't work normally. Left untreated, hypothermia can lead to complete failure of your heart and respiratory system and eventually to death."

MAYO CLINIC

10 - Cold Incapacitation. (10 minutes)

BODY SHUTDOWN. After the first minute, the "10" in the 1 - 10 - 1 Rule refers to incapacitation. During the next 10 minutes, you loose effective use of your extremities: fingers, arms, legs. If you can self rescue within 10 minutes, do it! If you can't, focus on keeping your airway clear and wait for rescue. You will soon be unable to swim, and if you can't exit the water, your PFD will help save you from drowning.

1 - Hypothermia. (1 hour)

HYPOTHERMIA. You have 1 hour to combat hypothermia. And that 1 hour countdown starts from the instant you plunge into the water.

When your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, it leads to dangerously low body temperature. If normal body temperature of 98.6 F (37 C)  falls below 95 F (35 C), With such a low body temperature, your heart, nervous systems, and other organs begin to fail. You need to warm your body quickly and/or seek immediate medical attention.

CONCLUSION

  • You need to get OUT of the water as quickly as possible; within minutes.
  • Have a plan to dry off and warm up. I keep a dry bag with a towel and change of clothes (fleece) in my front hatch.
  • If you can get back to your car, start it up and put the heat on high to warm your body.
  • Consider getting medical attention. Call 9-1-1 if necessary.

Watch this informative video from Kayak Hacks:


DON'T DIE!

As mentioned above, HYPOTHERMIA is a serious medical condition that can result in death.

But there are other dangers you may face that, while possibly not fatal, can certainly be extremely dangerous.

  • Broken bone (arm, leg, rib).
  • Laceration (deep bleeding wound).
  • Concussion.
  • Slips and falls (I tore my patella tendon and had to crawl to my car).

While most fishing injuries are likely to be minor (hook punctures, scrapes), you want to be prepared for the worst.

1.  Don't fish alone.

Try to always fish with a fishing buddy who can accompany you and help you if you should become injured or incapacitated.

"When you’re on an outdoor adventure, PLBs and satellite messengers are your two best options for sending distress signals."

REI CO-OP

2. Inform folks of your location.

Never leave home without letting family and friends know where it is you are going, and when you expect to return.

3. Invest in a Satellite Messenger or PLB.

SPOT Gen3

After my dunk in the drink described above, and because I do often fish on my own, I bought a SPOT Satellite Messenger device. This device allows me to signal friends and family that:

  • I'm OK (but delayed).
  • I need help.
  • Share waypoint tracking and report my progress.

All with the press of a button.

PLUS, should I be in a dangerous, life threatening situation, I can contact emergency rescue with the press of a different button.

It provides me peace of mind knowing help can be just a button away.

The unit is a bit pricey, but wait and they always have special promotions and sales to reduce the initial investment. Then there's an annual subscription fee.

You can avoid the annual subscription fees by getting a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). These only allow you to send SOS signals to rescue agencies, but they can certainly be a lifesaver.

CONCLUSION

  • Fish with a buddy whenever possible.
  • Make sure people know:
    • Where you are fishing and
    • When you plan to finish fishing.
  • Invest in technology to allow you to seek help.

Kayak Safety Products

PFDs

NRS Chinook Fishing PFD

ONYX Kayak Life Jacket

ONYX Automatic/Manual Inflatable Life Jacket


Satellite Messenger / PLB

Spot Gen3

Garmin in Reach Explorer+

ACR ResQLink

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