Make the most of a day on the water

Ernie Martin with a boat from a local bass pro during the Outdoor Education class at Crestview High School.

Ernie Martin with a boat from a local bass pro during the Outdoor Education class at Crestview High School.


Hook & Trigger

When headed out for a day of fishing, there are certain safety precautions one needs to take in order to have a great fishing experience. Knowing what to take with you and what to expect from Mother Nature will assist in a positive fishing adventure.

When you head out for a day on the water during the summer months in the Florida Panhandle, first get an up-to-date weather forecast. Understanding that “pop-up” thunderstorms are always in play during this time of the year, keep an eye out for changing weather conditions – especially in the afternoon hours. 

If you get caught in the rain, you will get wet and getting wet during a summer thunderstorm should be the least of your worries. Lightning kills people in Florida every year. Lightning strikes can occur on partly cloudy days. It can be detected by several good weather apps that you can add to your phone. The only catch is: are you fishing where your phone has cell service? 

Don’t take any chances with thunderstorms; get to a shelter and stay safe there. Remember that when the thunder roars, head indoors!

Beat the heat

Let’s talk about the heat. The heat indexes are measured by temperature and relative humidity. The temperature may be 92 degrees but when you factor in the humidity, the heat can feel like 104 degrees. That’s hot, too hot for anyone who has not acclimated their bodies to perform in the temperature range. It takes time and exercise to prepare your body for extended periods of time outdoors in excessive heat.

There are tips to help stave off heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Always start by correctly hydrating your body several days prior to your fishing trip. Drink plenty of non-caffeinated liquids. Caffeine is a diuretic and it will remove much-needed fluids from your body. Remember: the more you sweat, the more fluid you must drink in order to keep your core temperature stable.

Proper attire is also key. Light-colored and loose-fitting clothing is a must when dealing with the high temperatures. I try to take Dri-fit shirts on my trips to keep the sweat from filling up my shirts and making them water-logged. I have several friends who will take extra cotton t-shirts because they don’t like the way the new Dri-fit shirt material feels next to their skin. I say to each his own, wear what keeps you the coolest and is the most comfortable to your skin. Hats and sunglasses are a must as well; don’t leave home without having these with you.

Living in Florida, we should know the importance of wearing sunscreen. The younger you start, the fewer the trips to the dermatologist when you get to be my age. Wear your sunscreen! Always cover your skin, especially the vulnerable skin on your face, head, ears and hands.

Safety first

For safety during an outing aboard a boat, always have the proper safety equipment on board for your vessel. This includes life jackets that are the proper size for everyone on the boat. Make sure all life jackets are free of broken snaps or zippers and that there are no holes or tears in the material. The label found on the inside of your life jacket should be legible. If you can’t read the instructions because it’s faded, then that life jacket is no longer seaworthy. Make sure that small children are properly fitted and have a strap that holds them in the life jacket. Life jackets can be very affordable and can get expensive depending on your taste.

If you are the skipper, make sure everyone on board knows the placement of each piece of safety equipment and how it is used in case of an emergency. As skipper of the boat, you are responsible for the lives on board. Don’t take this responsibility for granted. When on the water your word must be the law. You should anticipate problem areas in the water and have a plan to navigate around them.

When you are on the water this summer, have a safe and memorable experience. Catch some fish for dinner and release some for the future generations.

Until next time, God bless and great fishing.