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TaylorMade Bass Blog

On the water through the eyes of Doug Taylor

Article 1:


With the winter bass fishing season upon us it is time to think of winter safety and safety in general. With the incident that happened at a tournament last month it really made me reflect on what went right and what went wrong and what could have happened. Sometimes it takes a scary mishap to really open your eyes to being safe on the water and fortunately for my fishing partner and myself, ours came to a happy ending, but trust me it could have turned ugly real fast.

It was a cold day in the mid 40’s with water temps in the upper 40’s and my partner and I had high hopes for a productive day. We never planned on our trip turning to an emergency situation but it did. With my partner passing out and almost falling into the water and being unconscious for approximately 12 minutes we were lucky because we dodged a potential tragedy. Made me think of what ifs! What if he fell into the water unconscious? What if he wasn’t getting better? What then? Trust me it was a very scary moment watching your friend struggling.

We all are guilty to an extent; we get so wrapped up in our fishing strategy and fishing gear that we sometimes neglect our safety and the gear needed. It is better to leave some fishing gear off the boat to make room for emergency equipment because if you are ever in an emergency and don’t have the gear you will be wishing you did.

Here is my emergency list and you can add to it or make some changes but with all the research and firsthand experience this is what I came up with.

  • ALWAYS and I can’t stress this enough, wear your life jacket at all times!!! Even while fishing because more people fall out of the boat at this time than any other time. With water temps cold you have minutes before you are in trouble even with the life jacket on.
  • Know the 1-10-1 principle. Knowing some basic cold-water immersion principles can greatly increase your chance of surviving if something were to go wrong. The times are approximate, but are basic time frames to remember. One, you have one minute after being submerged in cold water to get your breathing under control and realize what has happened. If you don’t get your breathing under control immediately, the possibility of drowning drastically increases. This is often referred to as the body’s response to “cold water shock.” Ten, after gaining your awareness and breathing, you have about 10 minutes of meaningful movement to self-recover. After 10 minutes, the cold water temperatures will likely cause a loss of dexterity in your fingers and arms, lessening your ability to self-recover. One, as in one hour before the effects of hypothermia will set in and you could become unconscious. By Bruce Callis
  • If you have an inflatable life jacket make sure to follow ALL instructions and always inspect your PFD and replace or recharge your jacket when needed. This could be the difference between life and death. I strongly urge you to not use the manual only PFD’s because if you fall in the water unconscious this will not save you. I use the auto and manual PFD.
  • Always carry your emergency toss flotation device in the boat at all times along with your first aid kit, emergency blanket, extra set of dry clothes, required Coast guard safety equipment and please inform your co-angler where he can find this? I strongly suggest you have all this equipment in one compartment so that it is easy to find.
  • First Aid kit should be more than just some Band-Aids and aspirin. You can get a First Aid kit for about $40 that has enough and if you want to spend more even better. Here is a list of stuff you should have in your kit. Bandages with different sizes, gauze, ace bandage roll, butterfly clips, hypoallergenic tape, sterile wipes, antiseptic liquid, burn gel, antibiotic ointment, small – stainless steel scissors (to avoid them getting rusty in salt water), tweezers, Swiss army knife, gloves (preferably not latex in case someone has an allergy), pain killers (mixture of paracetamol and ibuprofen).
  • Emergency blanket,   I strongly suggest buying an emergency blanket rather then one of them foil type ones that would not stay on while getting back to the dock. 
  • Extra clothing like pants, hoodie or sweat shirt, sox, underwear. It is of the upmost importance if you or your partner falls into the water you got to get them dry and warm because hypothermia will set in. Also it is a must to make sure you keep extra clothing in a dry area.
  • Emergency contacts should be in with your gear easily excisable. The compartment that you have your emergency equipment in you should have that info taped to the underside of the boat hatch and non-boaters should have that in their backpack or bag of personal effects. You never know if you need it!
  • Cell phone!!! Make sure you have a cell phone that has good coverage! I had just changed carriers a couple months ago because my coverage sucked and it was a good thing because I was able to call the tournament director who was at the dock and get help. If I had not changed carriers I would have had to search for a spot that had it. I was told that AT&T and Verizon have the best coverage on the Oregon coast but even with that said there are going to be dead spots and that is when a GPS satellite messenger tracker comes in handy. In case of an emergency like a heart attack, epileptic seizure or other life threatening emergency you are going to regret not having one. 
  • Knowledge of CPR! It is important to know first aid and CPR. It is a wise thing for all of us bass guys to know this seeing we are normally isolated on the water. Trust me it is a scary feeling when you are in the boat alone with your partner and he is down! Could be the difference between you saving his life and watching him dying. While your boat may be safe, passengers can still get injured. They can slip, fall, or get caught up in fishing gear. For this reason, it’s a good idea to invest in a first-aid course. Become knowledgeable about resuscitation, injury treatment, and injury prevention. Even a sprained ankle can be deadly if the passenger falls overboard. Keep your first-aid kit up to date, and treat any injury with extreme care. Also don’t go cheap on safety equipment. We spend a lot on our boats and fishing gear we also need to put safety equipment in that same category.
  • Make sure your boat has a functioning boarding ladder and that it is easy enough to use. Remember you will only have about 10 minutes to get out of the water before you lose your motor skills. Then it will become almost impossible to get back into the boat. Also remember you are going to have all that wet bulky winter clothing on. Obviously you are going to need some help getting in and this is why during the cold water months it is wise to not fish alone. Yeah it only takes one slip, one bump into a stump with the trolling motor or a wake from a nearby speeding boat.

You just never know how your day on the water will go. Hopefully you never encounter an emergency situation but if you do you will be thankful that you had taken the time and prepared your boat and yourselves for such a situation.


  • Mark Chevrier

    It is not.a bad idea to invest in a Personal Locating Becon (PLB). I bought one last year after the Nick Kayler incident at Lake Okeechobee. They are not cheap but if you fish alone and on big water (Lake Erie), like I do, it is a huge piece of mind. Knowing if you get in trouble you have an option to get the authorities looking for you and they will know where to look.

    • Bobby Brown

      Great reminder, Mark! Fishing solo anywhere is good for someone to know where you are and what time you’re planning to be back. Large bodies of water a PLB is a must.

  • Douglas Taylor

    I totally agree with you Mark. I guess why I didn’t list it because we here in Oregon don’t have water other then ocean or Colombia river. Great advice!

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