January 26, 2021

12 Fishing Safety Tips

Fishing is a fun, family-friendly activity that people of all ages can enjoy. As with any outdoor activity, stay safe on your next fishing outing by keeping the following points in mind:

  1. Wear a lifejacket or Personal Flotation Device (PFD). No one is expecting to fall in the water, but if someone does, a PFD could save their life. Boating regulations require that everyone aboard your boat have a lifejacket or PFD before leaving shore.

  2. Bring a first aid kit. It’s a fact of fishing that you’ll likely cut your finger or snag it with a hook at some time. Cuts and scrapes should be disinfected, and covered to prevent infection.

  3. Before casting, check behind you, and be aware of other people around you. Consider wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from errant fish hooks.

  4. Properly clean and cook your fish. Raw fish can harbour bacteria or parasites. Be sure to cook raw fish to an internal temperature of 70°Celsius/150°Fahrenheit.

  5. Know and follow the boating regulations, which are enforced by the federal Office of Boating Safety. It is a requirement in Canada that anyone operating a recreational boat be able to show proof of competency. Before taking the test to obtain your Pleasure Craft Operator Card, materials to study are available online from accredited course providers.

  6. Don’t mix alcohol with the operation of a boat. Most boating accidents involve an impaired operator, or failure to wear a PFD. Driving a boat while over the legal blood-alcohol limit is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.

  7. Monitor the weather; thunderstorms and inclement weather can move in quickly. Make sure you are off the water before a storm hits. Bring sunscreen and adequate clothing protection. Sunburn and heat exhaustion can turn a nice day on the water into a bad experience.

  8. Watch water levels. Heavy rains can cause a sudden surge in river levels. Avoid canyons during and after storms.

  9. Use a wading belt when wearing waders. If you happen to fall in a river, a wading belt will prevent your waders from filling up with water and pulling you under the river’s surface.

  10. Avoid potential wildlife conflicts when angling and camping in the backcountry. Clean fish and dispose of fish guts a good distance away from your campsite. To allow the fish guts to sink, puncture the fish bladder, and then drop the guts in deep or rushing water where they are unlikely to wash up on shore. Since bears and other wildlife have excellent senses of smell, burning or burying fish guts is not recommended. When camping overnight, make sure to seal and secure any food, garbage, and bait to prevent night-time visitors from accessing them.

  11. If you plan to fish alone, tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return.

  12. Be prepared. Bring safety items like a VHF radio or electronic S.O.S. locator beacon and a flashlight, as well as extra water, food, and fuel.

Author: Staff, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC
Images: C. Orvis, M. Remington.