When I heard Thomas Allen screaming, I assumed he had been hooked through the eyeball with a No. 2 treble. And yes, it was a scream, not a yell. Allen, senior editor of this publication and a very grown man, employed a pitch in his voice usually reserved for girls under the age of 10, and then only when the aforementioned children were confronted by a snake, spider or surprise birthday party with a Barbie theme. Why the high-pitched call for distress? Allow me to set the scene.
Allen and I do a kayak video series on Bassmaster.com. We were about a week behind on production of these videos and decided to head to nearby Logan Martin Lake to knock out a couple, including a dock-skipping installment. We identified some good-looking docks in a pocket near the dam, but there was nowhere to launch the yaks from that side of the lake. So, we launched from the opposite bank and peddled the Hobies across the span of the lake, which stretched about a mile. It was a pretty warm day for mid-April, as the afternoon temperature had reached 80 degrees. Some would call that lovely. Allen, however, called it “Africa hot,” if I remember correctly. He does have a fairly thick layer of internal insulation, so I typically add 10 degrees to the actual temperature to create the Allen Thermostat. Plus, for some reason, he was wearing two long-sleeved fishing shirts … do not ask me why.
Once we reached the creek lined with docks, we started fishing and filming. We couldn’t have been more than an hour into casting when the screech happened. At first I thought one of the waterfront homeowners had released a peacock, which became aggravated and vocal because of Allen’s proximity to a boathouse. When I realized the noise was actually coming from him, I became concerned.
So, I immediately peddled to his side, preparing for the sight of blood. There was none. Nor was he impaled.
“I have a leg cramp bro! It’s bad!” he explained through clenched teeth.
“So, what else is wrong?” was my response.
“Dude, I seriously can’t bend my leg! I’m in real trouble.”
Just as I was about to make another snide remark, I noticed the immense amount of sweat pouring down his face. His skin was beet red. I knew he hadn’t brought any water with him, and I couldn’t remember him drinking anything on the drive down.
I’ll pause the story here to say that heat-related injuries are no laughing matter. Heat cramps are the mildest form of overheating, and most often occur in the legs. Next up is heat exhaustion, which can be identified by headache, nausea, dizziness and heavy sweating, and must be immediately treated with the intake of fluid and salt. If fluid is not consumed, the issue could progress to heat stroke, which can lead to death. With summer upon us, this topic should be kept top of mind. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, heat is the leading weather-related killer in the U.S., as more than 9,000 people died between 1979 and 2014 as a direct result of overexposure to heat.
Anglers, who certainly spend their fair share of time sweating the dog days while casting for bass, need to take precautions in order to survive the hottest days of the year. Drink plenty of water throughout your fishing excursion and make sure your salt intake is significant (sports drinks take care of both these items). Wear breathable clothing and if any of the above-mentioned symptoms appear, stop what you are doing immediately and head to a cool environment and rehydrate. Allen and I did exactly that. We tied his kayak to mine and I peddled us back to the ramp. The videos could be shot another day. There is no fish worth risking the elevation of a heat-related injury. If you are fishing alone, call someone to let them know where you are and describe your symptoms. If you are fishing with a partner, let them know, as well.
Oh, and I guess you could scream like a little girl at the onset of leg cramps, but your buddy may not take you seriously.