Boat Angling

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How to deal with fish-related injuries

From our guest contributor, ex-RN medic and founder of Red Square Medical, Liz Baugh

A life at sea has taught me a lot. Patience, resilience, friendship, confidence, suffering, fear, exhaustion, love, humility and many other things. And a life practicing medicine at sea has taught me one huge lesson:

Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!

I started out in the Royal Navy as a medic working on the warships alongside the Royal Marines. I was on my own, medically speaking. Satphones were hideously expensive and only to be used in a dire emergency. In that situation I would have to ask the Captain to turn the ship around and get within helicopter range so that we fly the casualty off. Fast forward 22 years, now I work in the commercial, cruise and leisure sector and satphones are the norm onboard vessels of all types. Advice at your fingertips at an average cost of a £1 per minute. What’s not to love? In an emergency someone needs to be on that satphone, but more importantly, someone else needs to be assessing the casualty and administering potentially life-saving first aid or treatment to them.

Let me tell you a story. Picture this: West African coast, bobbing around in the Atlantic and some of the lads decide they want to do a bit of fishing off the back end of the ship. Sounds idyllic right? In theory it probably would have been, but warships are too high to do this sensibly so a small Rib was put in the water. The fishing was underway. One of the lads got a bite, but couldn’t reel it in. Another helped drag it in and leant down to scoop up their catch. Big mistake. Huge. He screamed and pulled out a heavily bleeding arm with a very nasty bite on it. The chaps immediately applied direct pressure – the correct first aid for a bleed – and the RIB was brought back alongside. My name was being shouted loudly – never a good sign. Bag in hand I rushed up to where the boat was being brought back inboard and readied myself for action.

The issue with an actual bite as opposed to a sting is that the force can cause underlying structural damage through crushing, puncturing and deep infection in closed spaces. It’s not simply a quick clean and dress – professional medical opinion should always be sought.

Another time I was on a fishing vessel in the Red Sea and one of the crew jumped in for a swim. Those of you familiar with the Red Sea will know the speed at which a jellyfish swarm can appear. Well, he was surrounded. It was a spectacular sight although it made my legs feel funny, I have a ridiculous phobia of jellyfish. Anyway, he was stung over and over until he looked like someone had taken to him with an old-fashioned cat o’ nine tails whip. Cue hauling him out of the swarm and me yet again poised for action. Luckily it was not a species that delivered potentially life-threatening stings otherwise we would have had a real problem on our hands. Again, a professional medical opinion should be sought if in any doubt.

Marine animal stings, bites and injuries are an occupational hazard when working at sea or enjoying some leisure time out on the water. Whether you are a part time sailor, a round-the-world sailor or a stand-up paddle boarder, you are at risk of injuries caused by marine creatures. I have compiled a list of my basic top tips for dealing with these injuries and a list of additional first aid kit that every watery person should consider carrying on their vessel.

Top tip: the priorities of basic first aid always apply, so Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing, Circulation (DRABC) all need to be assessed and any life-threatening issues. These are covered on the 1-day RYA First Aid course.

Jelly fish stings: these come from the tentacles which are covered in capsules containing nematocysts that fire their nasty sting into your skin on contact. First things first: get the casualty out of the water and do your DRABC. Then remove any remaining tentacles by either using tweezers to pluck them off the skin or something like a credit card to scrape them away. Next we need to neutralise any remaining nematocysts and we do this by irrigating with seawater, NOT freshwater as this can actually cause activation of the nematocysts. Mild pain relief and ice packs will also help.

Sea urchins: this happened to me when I was a bit younger. I had gone swimming off a boat in the South of France to harvest some sea urchins from a close by rock for lunch. I’m not sure if you have ever eaten them but when you open them up there is this delicious orangey coloured substance which is the only bit you eat. Rather disturbingly these are the sex organs, but they are super yummy. Anyway, sea urchins have a nasty habit of leaving their black spiky things in your hands and feet. They are usually deeply embedded which means they are a beautiful source of infection if not dealt with. The best plan is to remove all visible spines as soon as possible then soak the affected area in hot water between 40-46 degrees Celsius or as hot as you can bear for between 60-90 minutes. This should aid with pain relief (it really did for me). The casualty may need some other form of oral pain relief and a booster tetanus vaccine may be required so they really should consult with a minor injuries unit as soon as practical.

 Fishy stings such as Weever, Catfish, Stingrays: ouch! These things have venomous spines on their backs, tails or gills that most commonly sting when they are trodden on when paddling in shallow water. It really bloody hurts so the best thing to do is soak the affected area in hot but not scalding water (below 45 degrees Celsius). Monitor the area for any signs of infection, especially if you believe that there is still some of the spike stuck in the person.

Fish bites: these can be filthy so if you are unable to get the casualty to a minor injuries unit easily, it is well worth giving the wound a really thorough clean and lightly dress it to protect from other external sources of infection. Steristrips can be used for superficial skin closure but only if you are sure you can clean the wounds properly.

My real top tip here is to wear suitable water shoes at all times, even on board when you are fishing. More info on useful kit below…

What should you carry in your onboard first aid kit for these injuries?

I love kit! A decent first aid kit that meets the needs of what you are doing is crucial to a good response, so my first recommendation is that you go for something a little more robust than the average First Aid kit you’d find in an office. But thinking specifically about the above injuries my recommendations for additional items to top up your kit would be:

  • Instant heat and cold packs
  • Bite/sting reliever gel or cream
  • Gauze swabs
  • Forceps (you could just use tweezers if you already have them)
  • 0.9% saline solution 20mls for irrigation and cleaning (like the eye wash you would find in the workplace)
  • Steristrips
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Non adherent or low adherent dressings
  • Micropore tape

I do hope that this has been helpful. If you want to practice some basic first aid skills, we run a course especially for leisure sailors that is designed to complement the 1-day RYA First Aid course. It covers these sorts of injuries and plenty of practical hints and tips for enjoying time on the water.

Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!

 

Liz Baugh
Lead Medical Consultant

Red Square Medical
www.redsquaremedical.com

 

Langstone Harbour Report May 2021

April is always one of those “transition” months where the arrival of the Spring run of species happens – or not, depending on weather and temperature. This April was exceptionally cold, coupled with prevalent northerly to easterly winds. Fishing is not only poor in these conditions, it’s less pleasant for anglers too. With fewer anglers venturing out in April and fewer fish biting than we would have hoped for we can only report on the arrival of species rather than big catches.

For those that have the time and fuel to push well offshore to the Channel wrecks, some good pollack can be caught. Kev Johnson, John Evans and Tim Andrews fished on Kev’s boat Reel Lucky and show some good fish.

The banks further offshore can also produce occasional turbot as Tim Andrews demonstrates.

There have been plaice caught but not in numbers. Let’s hope there are merely late arriving and not showing a further stock decline. In former years we would have been catching plaice by the dozen, sadly now a few plaice is regarded as a good catch. There are many theories to explain this but not proven. There is no doubt that over-fishing has put pressure on stocks but other factors are also significant – damage to the seabed in breeding areas affecting their food supply – shellfish; predation from the big increase in bass stocks; pollution; suspended matter from sea defence work; imbalance of the ecosystem caused by any of the above; the list is endless. Whatever the reason, managing commercial fishing is only part of the solution.

To cheer us up, two other Spring species have arrived. Bream can now be found on the usual rocky marks. The larger breeding fish will be around for a couple of months and then we will probably be plagued by large numbers of small bream that have a habit of whittling away at larger baits not intended for them.

The other popular Spring arrival are smoothhound. Jason Watts boated his personal best at 20lbs, and Gary Dee did even better with one of 23.5lbs. Both very good fish. Smoothhound will stay in the area all through the Summer.

Ray species tend to stay around all year and often a good ray can save an otherwise uneventful trip. Ashley Nichols shows a blonde ray of 22lb and Les Beever holds another good Blonde ray of 19lb.

With warmer weather expected in May we hope the fishing will continue to improve. If the Atlantic weather system can push those Easterlies away we will all be grateful. South-westerly winds bring wetter weather but at least it will be warmer, and the fish will be more active. The very first mackerel have been reported so hopefully the tope will soon be following them in.

 

Neville Merritt

Southsea Marina Angling Club.

Langstone Report April 2021

I’m not sure where March went but that’s probably just as well. Those of us living a distance from our boats couldn’t travel to the coast so we had to be content reading reports on social media about what local anglers were up to. Not a lot, it would seem.

March is a strange month, because it is too late for the Winter species (cod and even whiting have moved on) and the Spring run of plaice moving inshore to spawn sometimes doesn’t start until the end of March. There will be pollack on offshore wrecks and reefs and you might find some late spurdog, but inshore the only predicable fish are dogfish and rays.

When you look at FaceBook angling groups and see photos of sunsets instead of fish, with comments like “Nice to be out though”, you know you aren’t missing much fishing action. It would have been nice to be out though. The charter boats have been gathering weed on their moorings waiting to be allowed out with clients, although I noticed many of them have had a thorough Spring clean. Let’s hope those shiny decks get dirty soon.

This month our catch report would have been very sparse without two of our regular contributors, Arron Shons and Heber Crawford. Arron headed 40 miles offshore on Time Out to a mark in 200 feet of water. Using a 110g lure he boated some nice pollack, the best weighing 19lb 2oz.

Heber defied my predictions and caught a nice cod early in the month, followed by pollack on an offshore trip. Closer to shore he also caught gurnard and wrasse, before ending the day finding a shoal of herring in the Solent approaches.

Herring are a frustrating species because you often see them on the fishfinder at this time of year, at various depths and spread over a wide area. As dusk gets closer they shoal up and rise to the surface to feed. This is when they are more likely to be caught. Tackle and approach is very specific because they have small, soft mouths. Using a very soft action rod fishing small Sabiki feathers, suspend them  a few feet below the surface and hold very still to simulate the larvae the herring are feeding on.

Early plaice were beginning to show up towards the end of the month. Charles Gattrell shows a better than average plaice of 3lb caught in March. Bait was supplied by the new shop Fishon Bait and Tackle in Cosham, Portsmouth

With lockdown rules gradually allowing a return to whatever normal will be, we will be having our first Southsea Marina Angling Club meeting (outdoors) in May and our “End of year” Awards Night will be in July.

Many charter boats are fully booked for the next couple of months which is good news for skippers and my catch reports, but if you want a space or full boat I’d recommend you book well ahead.

April should bring us plaice, bream and smoothound, heralding the start of the summer species arriving in numbers. It can’t come soon enough. Tight lines all.

Neville Merritt

SMAC

Note: The Sea Angling News monthly newspaper is not being printed at the moment and is no longer being published on Issuu. The monthly reports are published on the SAN Website below.

Langstone April 2021

Bass Fishing Limits 2021

The government has rolled over the 2020 bass rules into 2021 as we await the results of continued discussions over fisheries policies and EU trading rules.

Briefly, rules are different for North Atlantic (that’s us) and South Atlantic. In our waters, we can retain up to two bass per angler per day between 1st March and 30th November. The MLS of 42cm still applies. Outside these dates it is Catch and Release only.

This may change in April, so watch out for announcements in the press and updates here.

Information from the Southern IFCA here: https://www.southern-ifca.gov.uk/bass-management

 

Langstone Report March 2021

Well goodbye February. According to the few who could go fishing, those who couldn’t travel to their boats weren’t missing much. A late cod or two and a run of spurdogs were the highlights. The whiting worth catching have moved off leaving a horde of bait-robbing pin whiting in their place. There are still a few roaming conger on open ground but as March opens they will go back to the rocks and wrecks, and we will see the first of the plaice as they come inshore to spawn. They will be in better condition in a few weeks’ time after they recover.

March also heralds the opening up of the bass restrictions. The previous EU rules were rolled forward into 2021 which means recreational anglers can keep up to two bass per day from March to November inclusive, minimum size 42cm. This may change so watch out for further announcements. The first mullet have arrived back in the marina which seems early, but the sea temperature is trending upwards so perhaps this is normal now.

Many charter boats are taken out of the water for maintenance during the fishing lull in February, but with the much-anticipated easing of lockdown restrictions many are taking bookings already. The first few months on the new charter season promise to be very busy as anglers make up for lost time.

This month we usually report on the Southsea Marina Angling Club Presentation Night, but with no actual presentation night yet, we will celebrate the successes here.

Club Champion is Kevin Johnson (11 Points). Kevin also takes the Bream Cup (3lb 13oz); Bass Cup (11lb 10oz); Pollack Cup (12lb 14oz); Best Specimen (Bass) and Pairs Cup with John Jones. He however did leave some other cups on the table, and John Evans won the Plaice Cup (2lb 2oz); Bill Arnold won Species Hunt day competition; Peter Churchill won the annual Species Cup (33); Neil Glazier won the Cod Cup and Cod Pool (22lb); Jim Collett won the Catch & Release Cup with a Spurdog (22lb 8oz).  Junior Species Cup went to Jake Kelly (13); Ladies Cup to Aedy Merritt for her bream (1lb 4oz) and Ladies Species Cup was won by Haley Ellis (10). Congratulations to all the runners up as well! Out of respect for the Lockdown restrictions, some of our competitions could not be run this year so those cups will not be awarded this time.

I’m hoping for good weather as soon as we are allowed to travel again. I think there will be a lot of boats on the water that day!

Red Diesel to remain available for pleasure boats

The Government announced in the March 2021 Budget that recreational boaters can continue to use red diesel beyond April 2022.

Last year, HM Treasury ran a Consultation to review the impact of a future requirement for leisure boaters to use white diesel from April 2022 alongside commercial vessels who would continue to use red diesel. This would obviously be impractical and I’m relieved to see common sense has prevailed and the present system of a proportional tax on red diesel will continue.

Langstone Report February 2021

The Southsea Marina Sea Angling Club year runs from February to January, so 31st January marked the end of the 2020 Season and competitions. The final couple of months are usually quite exciting with last-minute changes in the club competition standings and winter competitions to look forward to as well. Well as we all know, this year has been like no other year and with the second major lockdown restricting travel and competitions, the club activities drifted gently to a halt. Our winter cod competitions were cancelled and with only a few local anglers being able to use their boats, there weren’t many fish caught of note.

Kev Johnson was the overall Club Champion and managed to bag a few more trophies as well, including the Bass Cup for this 11lb 10oz beauty pictured! Next month we will be announcing all the winners of the SMAC competitions and hopefully we’ll also know more about when we can all fish together again.

SMAC is independent from Premier Marinas Southsea although we are based in the marina, and we are very grateful for their support. Premier have kindly given up a page on their website if you would like to find out more about the club and activities, please visit www.premiermarinas.com and look at “About Southsea Marina”.

 

Langstone Report January 2021

Well this has been a tough month. We’ve had several waves of stormy conditions passing over the area putting a stop to boat fishing most weekends, and only those lucky enough to be able to go out midweek were able to fish at all. Then, just to put a final nail in it the local area is designated Tier 4 so anyone living outside Portsmouth can’t travel to their boats even if the weather improves. Oh well, I suppose there’s always next year!

We do have some fishing news from those that managed to get out however. After a slow start to the winter season we saw more cod coming out, some over 20lb. Neil Glazier now leads the Southsea Marina Angling Club Cod Pool with this nice fish of 22lb.

There are a lot of whiting inshore. Strangely, they seem to be either very large and few in number of very small and in large, ravenous shoals. The larger fish such as the 4lb specimen shown by Nick Reeves are very welcome. The smaller whiting strip large baits or give themselves up within minutes on smaller baits, making fishing very difficult.

I found that putting a dead whiting on a large hook and sending it down again kept their brethren away and gave other fish a chance to find the bait. Using this method you can expect to hook up with rays, congers or even cod if you are lucky. Mark Jackson shows the largest of three good undulate rays caught that day, topped by his crew mate Richie Shippen with an undulate a pound heavier at 15lb.

The SMAC Open Cod Competition was postponed from early November because of lockdown restrictions, then when restrictions were eased we had to postpone due to adverse weather conditions. With the new, tighter restrictions in force we have no revised date to publicise. We will have to wait and see what s possible.

Let’s hope that with renewed efforts to combat the virus and the roll-out of vaccinations we’ll be able to get back to some form of normality in 2021, and we can all go out fishing again as we used to.

 

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