To the casual observer, fishing — even serious bass fishing — may not seem like an athletic endeavor, but studies have shown that an angler fishing all day, making a couple of thousand casts and standing to operate a foot-controlled electric motor will burn more calories that an NFL lineman on a Sunday in October. Being in pretty good shape and properly fueling your body for the "game" on the water is critical.
"On the days I go fishing, I make sure I get up early enough to have some breakfast — usually a bowl of oatmeal and a banana," Long advises. "Then, when I'm on the water, I make sure I have some granola bars and peanut butter crackers. That gives me some complex carbohydrates that I can burn throughout the day. I don't carry candy bars or stuff with a lot of processed sugar. I want something my body can burn nice and lean and steadily through the day without any rushes and crashes."
Long is quick to admit that what works for him may not be the answer for you. Ultimately, you need to find the combination and timing that helps you feel good.
"After I offered him some sunscreen, I noticed there were three empty beers in the bottom of his boat. It was the only thing he had to drink out there on a hot, clear day at a very high elevation. I told him I had some extra water if he needed it, but he told me to mind my own business. I can take a hint, and I know you can't help someone who refuses to be helped, so I kept on fishing."
Hand in hand with food come the fluids that Mike Long drinks in preparation for and during a fishing trip. Alcohol is a no-no, not just on the water, but even the night before a trip. It will dehydrate you and can dull your senses even the morning after.
"I always make sure I have plenty of fluids on my boat," Long says. "I'll carry water, some Gatorade Thirst Quencher Powder and a little coconut milk. I like to keep my liquids cool, but not cold. If you get them too cold, you can actually put your body into shock and cause it to relax too much.
"One of the most important things to remember when thinking about fluids on the water is to drink periodically throughout the day. One way I remind myself to do that is by keeping a bottle of water up front with me. It stays next to the foot-control pedal so I see it all the time. Don't wait until you're actually thirsty to have a drink. If you wait until your body tells you that you need fluids, you're already becoming dehydrated. Once you get dehydrated, your body shifts into survival mode and you won't be able to think as clearly, quickly or effectively."
For more Mike Long tips on hydration, check out this video.
"A couple of hours later, I saw the trout fisherman again. By now, it was almost noon and he was already badly burned, but he had to be a tough guy and stay out there. I asked him if he needed any help, but I can't repeat what he said to me. As you can probably guess, it wasn't very nice so I went on my way. When I ran into the lake ranger, though, I asked him to keep an eye on the guy."
Science is just now catching up on the importance of sleep to athletic performance. For Long, it's always been a key component of his trophy bass regimen.
"If I'm going to fish for a full day," Long says, "I need seven or eight hours of sleep. It relaxes my brain and helps to repair my body for the outing. Anything less than that and I'm going to be sluggish and irritable."