This month kicks off a new year of fishing and boating with the big Seattle Boat Show, January 24 to February 1! As usual, there will be a lot of new boats and gear in 2020 to examine. If you’re thinking about making a big purchase or adding some electronics or accessories to your existing vessel, now is the time to do it. January is also the time for those New Year’s resolutions to begin. Whether it’s getting you or your boat in shape, we will cover that this month, so let’s get to it!
We’ve gone over fishing vessel maintenance and organization in this column quite a bit in the past. As I’ve said, it’s paramount to get your boat in fishing and foul-weather shape now for when the angling heats up in February. However, have you ever thought of getting yourself in shape for fishing? Getting healthier is always on many people’s agenda for the new year. Sticking to that resolution is usually the hard part. Here’s my take on how and why to get yourself ready physically for boating and angling and keep yourself there.
When many folks in the general populace think about fishing, they may think of the beer-bellied guy in the boat pulling up a trout or bass…complete with said beer adding to said belly. A cooler, a coffee can full of worms, and a red and white bobber complete the picture, with 12-ounce curls and maybe, reeling in a 12-inch fish being the most strenuous physical activity of the day.
However, for anyone who has fought pelagic species in the saltwater, or reeled a husky halibut or sturgeon up from the deep, or battled a big king or ling, or rowed and hiked to get where the fish are, they would tell you that angling can be like an extreme sport. I’ve had many a day with fish on the line that will make your back and arms feel like jelly.
Being in better shape and ready to fight big fish will make those challenging days much easier and let you recover faster. Strength and stamina come into play in the safety aspect of boating and fishing, too. Moving around the boat and, worst case scenario, having to get back in the boat if you went over are serious concerns for being in shape. So, that covers the “why,” other than just feeling better and being happier with yourself overall, for reasons to get healthy in the new year. Now let’s get to the “how.”
New Year’s resolutions are infamously known for falling by the wayside in a couple months. So really what we’re looking for is a long term, sustainable change in lifestyle for those who feel they would like to be healthier. And that’s probably just about all of us. There are big differences in starting points depending on factors such as age, existing physical conditioning, health, etc. that come in to play for everyone.
A good rule of thumb for exercise is to start slow. A current saying is that “sitting is the new smoking,” so just getting up and moving more often will make an improvement in your stamina. Walking, biking, hiking, and rowing of all kinds are a great way to get in shape. A home or local gym weight and resistance training program will strengthen those muscles that come into play when fishing. A few times a week targeting different muscle groups is about all you need to prepare legs, back, arms, chest, and shoulders for reeling in those big fish and having energy to spare at the end of the day. Keeping it simple and making it fun is the best way to approach exercise for the angler.
One great thing about fishing is that you’re catching some of the best protein on the planet as the end game. Salmon is an almost perfect food for health. Any other species are going to add to the balanced diet as well. Beyond that, adding fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water are the mainstays of a healthy, sustainable diet. I’ve found that limiting sugar and processed carbohydrates works well to reach my optimum body weight. And, if you have an indulgent weekend, don’t let that derail your efforts in the long run. Just get back in the groove and soon the cravings for unhealthy foods will fade away and will be replaced with a need for fresh, clean, healthy nourishment. Anyone who’s embarking on a new diet and nutrition plan and exercise program should consult a professional first. A yearly checkup is always recommended for maintaining optimum health.
As far as fishing is concerned, winter Chinook will be open in some areas of Puget Sound and in British Columbia this month. It’s not a long run across the border to Canada in the right weather. Or, consider trailering up to the Vancouver and Howe Sound areas. Next month kicks off blackmouth season in many areas, and there are three big salmon derbies in the San Juan Islands. Things will really ramp up in February, so until then, let’s get those boats and bodies ready to get out on the water!