August heat can be dangerous
As fishing summers just seem to get hotter, anglers have been adapting by using common sense and learning from past mistakes.
So far, none of my crew has been hauled into the ER from heatstroke, which is a miracle after all these years.
However, last summer, two friends on different boats were hit with heat prostration — or hyperthermia, as it’s called, the opposite of cold-related hypothermia.
One trout guide thought he was coming down with the flu — not likely in August — and went home under his own power and recovered.
The other friend, Bill, thought he was having a heart attack and was hauled into a coastal hospital. The diagnosis: Lack of hydration, they said, after running a few expensive tests.
“A month later, I was in the restroom at an NRG power plant,” Bill said. “They actually had a color chart on the wall that said you could identify the signs of either heat stroke or dehydration by the various colors of urine listed on the chart.
“I should have known better.”
OK, water is the most-boring drink ever, unless it’s flavored or if you’re in dire straits — like drifting in a lifeboat, or crawling in the desert and you’d be happy to bury your face in muddy water flavored with mosquito larvae.
But while out fishing on day trips, one can get dehydrated like Bill did, even when there’s a little north breeze.
One scenario: You had plenty of Crown the night before, woke up at dawn and grabbed a big cup of coffee and breakfast taco, and then spent a day on the water, sweating up a storm by afternoon.
That’s when dehydration and heat problems can ruin your day.
As one remedy, I’ve found that a case of La Croix sparkling water is a handy item on the boat. It’s lightly flavored, carbonated enough to feel like a beer, and with zero sugar.
During the dog days of September last year, we kept three cases in our rented cabin, adding more to the boat each morning. We fished long hours for tarpon and did OK.
Bill’s crew across the water just forgot to drink it; they had fast action on pompano, and the north breeze felt dry and pleasant.
Eating Right to Fish
It’s a simple slogan, but we “are what we eat.” There are ideal foods before and during a long day on the water, food that will keep you going, something tournament fishermen should understand.
Ironically, a perfect snack for fishermen is bananas, but that’s become a taboo item — bad luck juju.
We won’t transport bananas on the water, but figure they don’t count if they’re inside you, so we have several before launching the boat.
The reason bananas are good for fishermen (and athletes) is that they contain potassium. To quote from one medical journal: “Potassium is an electrolyte, an electrically charged molecule involved in various body functions. It’s important for the heart, kidneys, muscles and nerves to function properly. It helps regulate the amount of fluid in the body, helps in the contraction of muscles, and works to maintain the heart at a regular rate and rhythm.”
Potassium is an essential nutrient, and a deficiency causes fatigue, irritability, increased blood pressure and chance of stroke. Unless you are on dialysis, or have a special condition, an overdose of potassium from natural sources is nearly impossible.
So, if you have a friend who is a cranky S.O.B. after a day of fishing or doesn’t have near the stamina he or she used to, they might well be lacking in potassium.
An old-fashioned bowl of cereal also can help. Raisins and bananas are high in potassium, and even milk contains it. That’s a triple hit, if you can scarf it down before everyone jumps in the boat.
Many other fruits are high in potassium. According to various sources, papaya is way up there with 781 milligrams per serving. Kiwifruit has 450 milligrams per serving. Peaches and plums have 230 milligrams, while cantaloupes and grapes provide 240 milligrams, nectarines and oranges 250 milligrams, apples have 260, watermelon 270 milligrams and sweet cherries 350 milligrams.
The American Medical Association says 4,700 milligrams of potassium are needed daily by the average adult (leaving most people woefully deficient), so it’s best to fortify yourself.
I found that an avocado provides one of the biggest hits of potassium. In the restaurant, order guacamole whenever you can.
During recent summers we’ve depended on pickle slices, because we know pickles are high in potassium. Football players sometimes sip 2 ounces of pickle juice; I’ve tried it and it isn’t bad.
We need that potassium. When our friend Capt. Jesse collapsed offshore, his charter drove him back to the dock and he was carted off to hospital.
The doctor diagnosed low potassium, and stuck a spoonful of horseradish under his tongue while he lay comatose. That woke him up real quick.
Horseradish isn’t that high in potassium — a teaspoon is only 5 percent of the daily recommendation — but it’s very compact and easily delivered to the fallen.
The doc compared Jesse’s condition to a 12-volt battery that lost its charge. It sounds like keeping a small jar of horseradish on the boat would be good insurance, if someone collapses and needs a jump start.
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