Fishing is a big part of the culture in south Louisiana. Many of us do it for fun, and some of us do it as a means of income. Although most of us see it as a relaxing recreational activity, fishing is very much a physical activity, and you can injure yourself if you aren’t careful.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common fishing injuries and what you can do to keep yourself safe.
Common Fishing Injuries
Slipping and Falling
Whether you’re on a wet dock or boat deck or your shoes are just wet, being near the water can create a slipping hazard. If you aren’t able to recover from slipping, you could fall hard. Depending where and how you fall, a hard fall could lead to any number of traumatic injuries like fractures, dislocations, and soft tissue injuries.
Injuries from Equipment
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, injuries due to contact with objects or fishing equipment made up 33 percent of the on-the-job injuries among fishers and fishing-related workers from 2003-2009. Fishhooks are a common source of minor tissue trauma. For those who fish in powerboats, injuries from contact with the propeller are also common. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that there are approximately 200 to 250 non-fatal injuries reported every year due to contact with a boat’s propeller and/or propulsion unit.
Overuse injuries like tennis elbow and rotator cuff tendinitis or ligament tears are known to be common among athletes, but they can be common among occupational and avid recreational fishers as well. These injuries can occur due to repetitive motion in the arm, such as casting or reeling in a fish. Because they occur from overuse, they are more likely to occur in regular fishers rather than those who just fish occasionally.
Sprains and Strains
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that sprains and strains accounted for one-third of the injuries among fishers and related fishing workers from 2003-2009. If someone isn’t in shape or overdoes it, sprains and strains can happen. These injuries can also happen as the result of a fall.
Preventing Fishing Injuries
- Stay in shape and stretch beforehand. Lack of physical fitness and flexibility can make you more prone to sprains and strains while fishing. The right exercises can also strengthen the muscles in the shoulder and forearm to help with rotator cuff injuries and tennis elbow.
- Wear the right gear. You should be wearing non-slip shoes to minimize the risk of slipping, goggles or sunglasses to protect your eyes from any fishhook accidents, and a life preserver in case you fall into the water.
- Use caution around fishing equipment and boat propellers. As we discussed above, fishing equipment is a major cause of fishing injuries. Fishhooks are very sharp, and should be handled with care. Do not leave objects like knives, fishhooks, or your tackle lying around, as you or someone else could trip or step on them. Also be careful not to get too close to the boat propeller.
- Make sure you have a way to get help. Even if you are very careful, injuries can happen. Whenever possible, bring a buddy along to help in the event of an injury. Also make sure you have a cell phone or radio handy so you can contact emergency help if needed.
Although fishing is usually a very calm and quiet activity, that doesn’t mean you can skip the safety precautions. At the end of the day, you want to go home with lots of fish, not an injury.