from Deanna Travis

FlyAnglers Online

Publisher & Owner



Apr 23, 2012

It is warm enough in most places for most fly fishers to be setting out for the first real fishing of the year. We all have some ritual of sorts that goes with that introductory trip, certain things we take or flies we fish or even places which are the first to be fished. There are good memories in those things. Sometimes we are so revved up with the adventure at hand that we don't think about safety. Little things like always carrying water, (and drinking it) using sun screen so we don't fry exposed parts of our bodies in the unaccustomed sunlight. I'd also like to encourage you to be on the lookout for snakes, and most importantly, the venemous variety - Rattlesnakes. I know there aren't snakes everywhere, but if you happen to live or travel to a place where they are there are some things you should be aware of.

A rattlesnake bite can kill you. The late J.C. was bitten on the left hand by a small rattlesnake in Paradise Valley just south of Livingston Montana and, it cost him a few days in intensive care and a bunch of anti-venom injections. These are very painful and expensive. That was a long time ago, but the care one must take with a snake bite has not changed. 

The absolute wrong thing is to cut the area which has been bitten and try to suck out the venom. Wrong. Apply suction with one of the little kits sold in the back on sporting magazines? Wrong again.

First, call 911. If you do not have any way to make a call, walk, do not run to your vehicle and get to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. They know what to do. If you are with a buddy have them drive – if not get there the best you can. 

The day JC was bitten it was a hot summer day. We had a small cooler in the pick-up with cold pop in it. I knew putting a can of pop on the bite would slow down the blood flow to the region. But even that isn't suggested today.  And in the same vein, do not put ice on a bite site either. Just get to the emergency room – it won't take long for them to know it is a snake bite. It would be helpful if you can describe the snake, (you don't have to catch or kill the snake and take it with you.) However, this is not necessary for the antivenin that they use is the same for the various types of venomous snakes we have in North America. If you get bit in some foreign country where they have other nasty reptiles the antivenin might be different.

Snakes are pretty easy to figure out; if it is a hot day they will want to be in the shade. A good rule of thumb is, if you want to be in the shade they do too. While rattlesnakes do not need water to survive, (they make water from what they eat) the things they eat do need water. This includes small critters like mice, voles, frogs that are frequently found around water. Don't lay things on the ground without looking around. Just be aware of your surroundings.

Some of you take your dog fishing with you. Frankly I don't recommend it. Unless you have a dog which is extremely well obedience trained, do not take it fishing with you. The dangers are just too great - and I mean dangers for the dog not you. I expect anyone reading FAOL should know how to manage in the outdoors, but a dog in a strange place - not so much. Don't leave the dog in a locked vehicle either, if you are in a strange place check the local veterinary, they often will 'board' your dog for the day at a very reasonable cost. This can be especially important if you are in rattlesnake country! If you know your dog is going to be exposed to rattlesnakes have it vaccinated against rattlesnake venom. The vaccine allows the dog to build up immunity against the venom and reduces the need to use very expensive antivenin for treatment.

And if you are traveling with your dog, make sure you have the microchip installed. Can you imagine how you would feel if your dog got loose and was lost? How about the dog? If you're going to have pets you simply must take care of them. That includes keeping windows rolled down and parking in the shade whenever possible to prevent heat stroke in pets.

A couple of days ago my husband Trav and I were coming down from a hike in Sabino Canyon here in Arizona, and while walking to our car a Sherriff's department car passed us. They stopped at a car with a small dog which was barking and showing signs of distress. It was close to noon, the temperature was in the low 80's and the car was in the sun. Someone had called for help for the dog. I suspect the owner was not going to be happy when they got back to their car. There just isn't any reason for that sort of carelessness. With a little thought and planning it doesn't have to happen.

Spring and summer are wonderful opportunities to re-create ourselves, to recharge and renew. Just be careful out there.  ~ LadyFisher

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