We’d never suggest that fishing with friends or family isn’t a wonderful way to spend a day. We love the camaraderie that is a natural part of fishing with a group… the competition for first catch and biggest catch… the conversation and the companionable silence. But there’s nonetheless something to be said for fishing alone. Stalking your catch, pitting your skills against nature, and reeling in a fish without help or an audience brings with it a unique kind of excitement. Consider Hemmingway’s Santiago, battling his marlin alone in a small boat with no one to rely upon but himself. Regardless of the outcome, would the story have been as exciting if Santiago had shared his boat? Probably not.
Yet as enjoyable as fishing alone can be, we don’t recommend embarking upon an epic solo fishing journey without thinking about safety. With fishing buddies, tumbling overboard or an ill-timed slice with a fillet knife are minor mishaps. When you’re alone, these and other small accidents can turn into tragedies that could have been avoided with some forethought.
Think ahead when you’re fishing alone! Do a spot check of all of your fishing gear and safety equipment. Even if it’s not your usual habit, wear a life jacket. Make sure your VHF radio is working and that you have a hand-held radio as a back-up. Find your dead man’s lanyard (aka auto tether) and use it. Let someone know where you’ll be fishing. Restock your ditch bag. And it may be an obvious question, but is your cell phone full charged?
Keep in mind, too, that fishing alone is not always easy – especially when your expected catch is on the bigger side. Taking a really great picture of the big one will have to wait until you’re back at the dock. Bringing in a really large fish may not even be possible!
But the joys of fishing alone – and being able to get out on the water even when no one in your life can make it – outweigh the difficulties. You can go out when you want and call it quits when you want. The radio volume is yours to control. The pleasant solitude is yours to enjoy. Lose a fish? No one is around to see it. Want to try something new? You won’t have an audience as you fumble around.
Just be safe.