Boy am I sore! No matter what I do in the "off" season, once I start fishing full time, I am really hurting! From October until March, I try to recover, rest and rehabilitate for the long season. This involves hitting the resistance rubber bands to strengthen my shoulders, my elbows and back. I hit the treadmill for some endurance training and toss in some time on the recumbent bike. Then it's light weigh lifting.
Sound like a good regimen? For toning and strength, it's fine, but it doesn't do much for getting in shape to stand on the bow of my Skeeter for 8 hours balanced in choppy water with one foot on the trolling motor pedal. And there's more! I need to be agile enough to move about the boat to assist my clients, not to mention launching and trailering. These activities can't be replicated in a gym. And this time of the year, we are casting and winding heavier lures...at least 1000 times a day. Getting into fishing shape can only be accomplished with time on the water. Making it even tougher are the additional pounds of clothing I need to wear in the colder weather.
My fishing "welcome back" is with a cold and wet greeting. My hands have softened over the winter, spending time inside. Even though I am wearing my Seal Skinz gloves, my hands are often exposed to the elements, including reaching into the icy water to land fish. Largemouth bass have fine teeth, like sandpaper...and scratch my pampered hands. And the hooks! I get stuck a few times a day more than a diabetic! Fish fins stick me too!
Then there are my feet! Keeping them warm, dry and supported for the extra duty is a challenge. By far, TEVA sandals are the most comfortable fishing shoes. They allow me to be agile while standing all day. The challenge was keeping them warm. I developed a sock system to keep the tootsies toasty. A silk sock liner and the Seal Skinz ChillBlockers maintain body heat allowed to circulate to my feet by loosening the TEVA straps. Keeping warm isn’t that tough with today's layers. Just remember it is often colder on the water than off and it's better to have too many clothes than not enough!
With the cold boat rides, come the hoodies and jacket hoods. While they are warm, they also block peripheral vision. A good pair of sunglasses or goggles will help block the wind and keep your eyes protected for watching out for other boats. Don't let the colder weather fool you! The sun is bright and glare is ever present. Maui Jim Polarized Plus Sunglasses protect from UV A and UV B rays that can damage eyes! Sunscreen on all exposed skin, usually face, ears and hands is also overlooked this time of year.
But a key to staying warm and alert is water! Yes, staying hydrated helps with both! Many boaters forget to drink lots of fluids (no alcohol!) and this can lead to dehydration and fatigue. Frequent snacking helps keep energy up for a full day of fishing.
A bit of stretching to start and end each day on the water will prevent injuries. Elbow tendons are particularly susceptible to tearing. So, a warm up and keeping this area warm will prevent a nagging season long injury. I also start off slowly with my first few casts just to warm up my casting muscles. In the days off the water, I spend more time outside walking and light jogging and more resistant rubber band stretching...this all helps. Hand creams at night while I'm wearing white cotton gloves allows weathered hands to heal. Getting a full night's sleep and dropping a few pounds also helps. Fishing hard for five days a week will whip me into fishing shape. It doesn't get easier, but it's still fun!
Coming soon in my next BoatUS ANGLER DIY column - modifying lures with dyes, blades, soft plastics and crankbaits!
Until next time, see you on the water.
WEAR a PFD!
I'm gone fishing.
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