Whether we are freshwater or saltwater anglers there are inherent risks involved in spending time around water. It could be a swollen river, a dodgy bank or a fast flowing tidal system, water deserves our respect.
Saltwater lure fishing in particular is growing very fast and there is a serious amount of newcomers to the sport. One can go on to forums and social networking sites to view promotional and attractive pictures of fishing spots every day. One can view pages and pages of discussion about lures, rods, reels and other pieces of tackle, but when did you last see something about water safety? One can view pages and blogs showcasing dangerous spots and the at times extreme nature of fishing on the rocky coastlines, but when did you last see a clause about safety? About getting the appropriate training to use ropes, kayaks, etc?
So I am told, in the UK last year there have been at least nine deaths of anglers, that with a little more preparation and understanding, their deaths could have easily been avoided.
I see companies and magazines advising that we wear a floatation vest of some sort and indeed this is good advice. I personally wear the Ima RBB vest for my angling, it is truly an excellent piece of kit which could aid in self rescue should the worst happen. However a floatation device should never be the first and only approach to water safety, should it?
I wonder how many new coming anglers actually understand tides and current systems relative to their chosen marks? Do they factor in to their preparation a simple risk assessment and have in their minds a plan of escape should the worst happen?
When planning your trip do you seek to understand what the tide shall be doing at various points during your session? Do you understand that when fishing an estuary there will be a time difference in high water specific to your location, compared to the location where your chart data is gathered? Learning a little about tides can go a long way to making your angling risks calculable and manageable. In all honesty safety it is of far more importance to your fishing and enjoyment than the lure choices you have made for your day.
If you do not understand about tides here's two videos I found on youtube recently and they are a great start to understanding your surroundings when out fishing rocky headlands, sand bars and really any other situation in the saltwater environment.
Paying particular attention to the rule of twelfths and the 50/90 rule, how would you factor this into your preparation? Will you know what is going to happen to that gully which you need to cross on your return in the third or fourth hour? Will you know how long you can safely stay on that sand bar during your angling time? Do you understand the difference in what your favourite rock will look like on neap tides compared to spring tides?
What about if you find yourself in the water on a headland point, do you know what to do in that current? Will you exhaust yourself fighting against it or drift with it, understanding that it will slow down when past the obstacle?
Whether you are a newcomer of a seasoned angler we can all know what it is like to get caught out and hopefully we can all understand how this could potentially turn tragic.
Please, make safety a priority in your preparation, tell someone where you are going to be and give an E.T.A. of your return. If you are visiting an area, get a guide who knows the area well and where applicable get the appropriate training for your activity. Remember, no fish is worth risking your life for, or the potential lives of your rescuers. Do not become a statistic!
Stay safe and tight lines.