Fish Water Safety

Maine is a safe and friendly place in which to enjoy the outdoors. Most accidents occur because people fail to observe basic rules of safety. Anglers using boats and canoes must be aware that an unexpected dip in our frigid water can lead to hypothermia or even drowning.

Maine has laws that require boaters to carry one U.S. Coast Guard-approved, wearable personal flotation device (PFD) for each person on board. Children 10 years old and under must wear a PFD at all times. Unfortunately, adults do not always wear a PFD and that is when tragedies are most likely to occur. Play it safe and wear a PFD at all times. You should get a copy of the Maine boating laws. Ask for a copy when you buy your fishing license.

An angler holds his fly rod high as he works a scrappy smallmouth bass toward shore. Spring and fall are prime times to fish the rocky shorelines for smallmouths.

No law can make up for a lack of common sense. Some Maine lakes are so large that waves can develop to the point where navigation is foolhardy. Always keep an eye on the weather, especially in the summer. Dark-looking cumulus clouds often indicate an approaching thunderstorm, as do sudden squalls and distant thunder. At any hint of a thunderstorm, make for land immediately.

Once, during a violent windstorm, the author and friends were safe inside a lakeside camp. A canoe, loaded to the hilt with camping gear, passed within sight of the camp. The two men in the canoe were obviously in desperate peril. We tried to rescue them with a motorboat, but were unable to reach them. The canoe finally swamped, but the men managed to hold on to it and reach a distant point of the shore. They spent a wretched night on that barren beach in a cold rain. Had they not kept hold of the canoe, they would probably have died. These incidents need not happen. The men should never have gone out during that storm. Only luck and quick thinking saved their lives.

You must also keep an eye on the antics of other users of Maine waters. Drivers of personal watercraft and power boats pulling water skiers do not always pay attention to other boaters. The wake from a large powerboat can upset a canoe, especially one that lacks a keel. Do not trust the other person to watch out for your safety; you must do that yourself.

Finally, do not forget to insert the drain plug before you launch your boat. Nothing is more embarrassing than to have your boat fill up with water in front of other anglers at the launching ramp. It can be dangerous as well.


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