The Health ‘Hook’ of Safe Fishing

Health Benefits of FishingFor avid fishermen, fishing is fun.  Usually they don’t think about the health benefits of fishing to the body and mind.

Yet, research tells us fishing promotes relaxation, upper-body exercise during casting and reeling in and heart-healthy nutrition if your catch ends up on your dinner table properly prepared.

Competitive fishing adds other benefits: social interaction and confidence-building competition.  It, like regular leisure fishing, also has its risks, namely injuries from battling the catch of the day.

When anglers take to the waters off Islamorada in the Florida Keys this weekend for the third annual Doctors Hospital Fishing Tournament, their goal is to land the largest dolphin, grouper, kingfish, tuna, snapper or wahoo.  They also want to prevent getting injured in the process.

For some injury-prevention tips that can be used during any fishing trip, we asked orthopedic surgeon Jack Cooper, M.D., from Doctors Hospital Center for Orthopedic & Sports Medicine.

“The potential for injury during fishing is always there, but especially with the sports fishing we see most often in South Florida,” he said.  “Vigilance is the key to preventing these injuries.”

Dr. Cooper, who himself enjoys fishing, notes that most injuries can be prevented before taking the boat out in the deep waters offshore.  He recommends that anglers take the following precautions:

1. Wear shoes with anti-slip soles to avoid slipping and falling on wet decks.

2. A fighting chair, which is bolted into the boat’s flooring, prevents falls while reeling in a large fish.  These chairs also can help minimize back and knee strains and sprains because they provide a structure, other than the side of the boat, to brace oneself against.

3. Wear gloves to prevent cut fingers from nylon fishing lines and sharp fins, spines and teeth on certain species of fish.

4. When using a gaff hook to bring the fish into the boat, be sure the area around you is clear of others to avoid accidentally stabbing anyone with the sharp hook.

5. On faster boats, avoid sitting on the bow of the boat.  Compression fractures of the back may happen when the boat hits a wave and a person’s body doesn’t have time to properly absorb the abrupt impact.

6. Be familiar with the species of fish you want to catch and avoid fish that may be poisonous, such as a lionfish.

If an injury occurs, Dr. Cooper suggests attending to the injury right away.
“Make it a practice to have a first aid kit handy,” he recommends.  “This kit should have bandages, tape, an alcohol-based antiseptic to disinfect any wounds and a triple biotic cream to ward off bacteria.”

If a slip-and-fall injury occurs and a fracture is suspected, he says splint the bone as best you can and seek immediate medical attention.

“Fishing can be fun, rewarding and great exercise, but common sense goes a long way in preventing injuries on the water,” Dr. Cooper said.  “Follow these tips to stay in the game.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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