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Don’t let the heat beat you

After fishing a couple of Elite events up north in nice weather, it was time to return to Louisiana where it’s hotter than a firecracker. Like, 100 degrees every day.

My body apparently had adjusted to the cool weather and wasn’t ready for the heat. I began to feel sick recently during the first practice day of the St. Croix Bassmaster Central Open presented by Mossy Oak Fishing on the Red River in my home state.

I knew I had to get acclimated quickly or it would affect my performance during the tournament. Anytime you’re fishing in that kind of heat it will impact your organs. I knew I had to take care of myself.

I drank lots of water that first practice day and excessive amounts that evening and next morning. I cut back on coffee and drank half a gallon of water before blast off on competition day. One day I drank 2 gallons of water and never urinated until the end of the day.

I was fishing 50 miles from takeoff and would drink 40 ounces on the ride back. I continued to consume a lot of water after fishing, and by the time I got to bed at night, I felt normal and ready to go the next day.

You really have to force yourself to drink more water than you want. Even though you’re not thirsty, you’ve got to consume copious amounts to stay sharp and function properly in that kind of heat.

Frankly, I’m not big on sport drinks. A lot of my co-anglers drink them, but I think most are loaded with sugar and sodium. I’m not saying they’re bad or don’t help, I’m just saying I think water is better for you in those conditions.

I don’t eat much during the days on the water other than a handful of nuts. I try to get my electrolytes from food and water.

And that’s not all. I always wear a long sleeve Magellan shirt with hood and neck gator. At the Red River, I switched from wearing shorts to long sun pants to avoid exposing my legs to the sun and that made a difference. I felt more comfortable during the daytime in that brutal sun.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t do all of that. Now I apply sunscreen every morning, wear gloves, long pants and the Magellan shirt with hood and gator that serves as a face buff as well.

Taking care of myself helps me stay focused because these new guys coming in are definitely focused. Even the “average” fishermen are better than ever.

I’m certain that the steps I took helped me finish second in that event.

I’ve learned that if I don’t take those precautions, I’ll get beat by the guys who do, and more importantly, it can cause damage to one’s overall health.