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The Education of a Fisherman: Saltwater Fishing Safety

Saltwater fishing safety takes some attention to detail; try to remember these tips.

Many of the tips and pointers given in the freshwater safety post will apply here so we will attempt to not be too redundant.


If you choose to wear waders, consider a wading belt and life vest if warranted. Stepping into an unseen hole deep enough to fill your waders can be dangerous. You may not look as cool as the rest of the kids, but at least you will be coming home.

Shin Guards

If you plan to wade fish the saltwater flats or shallows, you may want to consider purchasing either some shin guards or at least wearing long pants, high socks and tennis shoes. They will help protect you from getting smacked by a stingray. Though not exactly comfortable, these can also help to ward off jellyfish and man-o-war.

Remember to shuffle your feet along to move off those pesky creatures. If you or a buddy is the unfortunate victim of a stingray hit, good advice can be found at WebMD.

Tides and Currents

Be aware of dangerous currents and rip tides in the area you plan to fish. Do not fool yourself into thinking you will be able to swim your way out of trouble should the need arise, even the strongest swimmers can flounder in a strong current, and they are not encumbered by fishing gear.

Be aware that if you are fishing an inlet where large ships pass, there will be suction as they go by which can drag you out to deeper water.

A quick note on wading itself: Tobin Strickland of Coastal Angler magazine reported a wading incident that should be a wakeup call. While riding in a boat speeding to a fishing spot, he spotted what appeared to be a crab trap buoy directly ahead. As the gap rapidly closed the buoy became a man up to his neck in the water with only his rod and reel visible!

RELATED: Epic Black Drum Caught While Kayak Fishing [VIDEO]

Thankfully, other than some sore feelings and red faces no one was hurt in the incident but this serves to drive home the use of good common sense and the importance of maintaining visibility. Use your head for something other than a convenient place to put your hat, please…


What can we say? Boys are gonna be boys and sharks are gonna be sharks. A struggling, flopping, bleeding fish on your stringer is the oceanic equivalent to the dinner bell. Sharks can detect a blood in the water or a thrashing fish at some distance.

Never tie your stringer to yourself. If the “man in the gray suit” grabs your fish, he will immediately attempt an escape with his ill-gotten booty, taking you with him.

You will not be able to untie the knot and may be pulled off your feet and into dangerous currents or deep water. A wade belt featuring a slot that you put the point of the stringer into without any knots is suggested.

I would strongly suggest letting the shark have the fish, the ocean has plenty more and you are way more important than any stringer, no matter how big. Some enterprising sportsman have made use of coolers that will fit into an inner tube, which takes the fish out of the water entirely.

Last but certainly not least

Vibrio Vulnificus…

Vibrio Vulnificus is also known asthe “flesh eating disease.” While relatively rare, it should be a concern for those who may be fishing the warm saltwater this summer.

The disease can attack in freshwater, but is more commonly found in the gulf, particularly in the warmer months of summer, late summer and early fall.

Dr. Robert Atmar, a Baylor College of infectious disease expert, reports that Vibrio is the same thing that gives you strep. He estimates that Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, where he routinely works, sees about half a dozen cases each year.

Typically, the bacterium invades the patient through an open wound and can be a rapidly spreading infection. In less than 24 hours, muscle and tissue can be severely affected.

Sportsmen with diabetes and liver problems are at risk, as well as those who may have a compromised immune system.

RELATED: Bloody, Blistery, Oozy, Weepy and Itchy: Know Your Poisonous Plants

High fever and redness around an open wound one to three days after being in warm saltwater are an indication that you should get to an emergency room immediately. If you have an open wound, reconsider going at all at least until it heals up.

That about sums up the tips I have for now. My intent is not to scare people into staying home (unless they are in my favorite spot), but to give them a heads up on possible difficulties they may encounter.

Forewarned is forearmed after all. Many mishaps can be avoided by using a common sense which unfortunately is not as common as it used to be.

I will be back soon with more, until then I hope to see you out there and be safe.

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The Education of a Fisherman: Saltwater Fishing Safety