Blue water fly fishing can be a blast, if you can get your head out of the bucket.
I get seasick looking a pictures of the ocean. That might surprise you, seeing as I spend a lot of time on boats fly fishing in saltwater. I have significant damage to my inner ear as a result of a serious sinus infection and I can barely walk a straight line on dry land. It’s something I’ve learned to deal with and if you are prone to seasickness, so can you. Don’t let a little queasiness keep you from an epic fishing adventure.
If you don’t get seasick, I’m happy for you, but don’t stop reading yet. I have a little tip for you too. Don’t be an asshole! Seasickness flat out sucks. I can only compare it to food poisoning in misery. So if your buddy starts feeling bad on the boat, don’t give him a load of shit. He’s a man! Because he knows how bad it’s going to be and he’s out there anyway. Know this with absolute certainty, if you rip me when I’m sick I will make it my personal mission to cover every inch of you with my vomit. We’ll see who gets the last laugh.
I had the pleasure of fishing with Captain Ron Doerr out of Jupiter, FL the other day. Capt. Ron has been running blue water trips for about thirty years and for twenty of them he battled seasickness. He eventually beat it, but I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be sick every day for twenty years. That’s tough. Real man tough!
I did pretty well on my day with Capt. Ron and much of it was thanks to him. I can’t tell you what a difference it makes to fish with a captain who understands. How you handle the boat makes a huge difference and Capt. Ron understands that from personal experience.
Before I get into tips that will help you beat seasickness it’s good to understand why it happens. Seasickness is literally in your head. It’s a result of your brain receiving conflicting sensory input. When your eyes see the relatively still world of the boat and your inner ear senses the rocking of the ocean, the brain is confused. This confusion leads to an unconscious mismanagement of the digestive system. The stomach over produces acid while the rest of the digestive system is shut down, and voila! You’re puking.
So if you’re a puker, here are some tips that might help you stay upright and fishing.
First of all, if you have done no saltwater fishing and are worried about it you should understand the you are not at risk of being sick when flats fishing. I know this is obvious to many of you but there are folks who don’t understand. The water on the flats is calm and the boat is small. You will not feel a thing. It’s blue water fishing in the open ocean, usually in a larger boat, where you will have problems.
Keep your eyes on the horizon
Watching the horizon is an easy way to fight off seasickness. It keeps your eyes and your inner ear on the same page so your brain can make sense of the situation. It’s not 100% effective. Eventually you are going to have to tie a knot or look in the cooler, or it my case, at your camera and that uneasy feeling will start. Looking back and forth from the horizon to the task at hand will help. If the boat has a head, DONT GO IN THERE! Trust me, anything is better. Watching the horizon is not going to solve your seasickness problems but it’s a big help. Stay focused on it.
Don’t go out on an empty stomach
Most people think that if there is nothing in their stomach that they will not get sick. This is far from true. The nausea has nothing to do with the food in your stomach and in fact an empty stomach is the devil’s playground. When the stomach starts producing extra acid there is nothing to absorb it and you’re in trouble. Eat a reasonable breakfast and avoid acid foods like tomatoes and orange juice.
Pretzels do a great job of absorbing acid. Take a big bag of them on the boat and eat lots of them. Especially if you start feeling uneasy. There is a psychological component to seasickness and when you get stressed the stomach steps on the gas and really starts pumping the acid. Stay ahead of it and keep a positive attitude.
Strong smells affect the nervous system like no other stimulus. Some are good and some are bad. Diesel fumes are among the worst, as is the smell of that head I mentioned. Good smells like ginger can settle your stomach quickly. QueaseEASE is a great product that really helps fight off nausea. Ten deep breaths every five minutes or so makes a world of difference.
Avoid anchoring up when possible
A boat moving freely on the water is much easier to handle than one which is anchored up. It’s more work for your captain but let him know if you’re feeling poorly and he may be willing to go the extra mile. Capt. Ron was great about this. A good captain knows that a sick client doesn’t tip as generously as a well one. Don’t be embarrassed to let him know how you’re feeling.
The patch rocks!
Transdermal seasickness patches are amazing. None of the over-the-counter medications help me at all. You may have better luck. The patch, however, works great most of the time. The thing is, it’s a powerful drug with possible side effects. See your doctor and get the proper test done before you use the patch. Taking one from your buddy is a gamble. They also make you seriously high, which is fine, just be careful driving or handling sharp objects and don’t make life altering decisions, like proposing to some girl you meet in a Key West strip club that night. (Spoiler alert- she’s a prostitute and quite possibly a man.) Don’t forget to put the patch on the night before you go out or you’ll just be sick all day and high all night.
The open ocean is a beautiful thing and it’s full of amazing fly fishing opportunities. Don’t let the fear of seasickness keep you from experiencing it. Get yourself some pretzels and patches and get out there. If your buddy gives you any shit, puke on him for me!Louis Cahill Gink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com firstname.lastname@example.org Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!