If you’re anything like me, you’ll get “hangry” on the water if you are not careful. Hangry behaviors include repeatedly losing flies (and fish), cursing, getting in knots and breaking them out of frustration, having shaky hands, and generally losing your patience. We’ve all been there. It’s easy to get lost in the mentality of “one more cast or one fish and then I’ll have some food and water.” Some days, that adage causes hours to go by while you are denying your body’s physical health cues.
It’s difficult for some people to notice when they are hangry due to a tunnel vision effect with fish on the brain. This is where a fishing buddy or a phone reminder comes in handy. It is a good idea to set intentions for the day such as “let’s take a lunch break around noon or make me eat a snack with you because we both know how I get.”
Staying Hydrated on the Water:
The average person needs at least 62 oz of water a day and 1 to 1.5 liters of additional water at elevation. If you neglect drinking the proper amount of water, especially at altitude, dehydration can lead to dizziness, headache, fatigue, and disorientation. Not only can dehydration cause unpleasant sensations, but it can also pose a dangerous threat when fishing. For instance, dizziness and disorientation increases your risk of tripping and falling while wading which can cause serious injuries and even death.
One hydration strategy is to utilize a water bladder like a Camelback in order to take in a constant supply of fluids. Water bottles require you to use your hands when they are usually occupied with holding fly line or tying flies to tippet. With a Camelback, you are able to actively drink water while you are fishing.
Alternatively, I use a Yeti Rambler to keep water really cold in the summer, or keep tea hot in the winter.
It is also important to add an electrolyte supplement to your water to help your body absorb the water you are drinking. I prefer LMNT powder which contains sodium, potassium, and magnesium but does not include sugar which tends to make your blood sugar crash.
Nutrition on the Water
Food is fuel, and calories are units of energy. So, it is important to replenish calories as they are burned away at a fastener rate when you are active through walking and wading.
If you view eating a snack as something that takes away from fishing time, you are less likely to take a food break. Instead, viewing a snack break as enhancing the experience will make you more likely to prioritize your physical needs. You can use that time to rest, explore, and look for aquatic life. I guarantee this will enhance your effectiveness on the water.
My Top 5 Snacks on the Water:
These choices help me replenish the proteins, carbs, and sugars I expend through being active on the water. It is especially important that the calories you bring match the activity – for instance, you will need fewer snacks for two hours on a reservoir as opposed to an eight-hour hike to a high alpine lake. As an important note, due to reduced oxygen levels, our bodies burn more calories at high elevations.
Nutrition and Hydration Preparation
The night before any personal or professional trips, I lay out all my fishing gear so I can head out the door immediately in the morning. During this process, I set out food and fill up water reservoirs so that I do not leave these important components behind. Additionally, it is a lifesaver to keep some heat-resistant snacks as a backup in the car.
Our preferred water filter for long days in the backcountry:
Get fancy with it
Often at fishing lodges, they prepare heated meals water-side. There is no reason you cannot do this too! With some extra planning and a camp stove or Jet Boil, you can cook or heat up premade meals. The ability to boil also comes in handy during the colder months with river side tea and hot chocolate.
If you repeatedly struggle with nutrition and hydration on the water, ask yourself whether you neglect taking care of yourself in general. If so, fishing might be reflecting a lack of self-care contributing to issues such as burnout, depression, and people-pleasing. Taking small steps to prioritize your self-care on the water will lead to greater self-regard which can positively impact these challenging areas of your life.
Article by Melissa Ceren the “The Fly Flinging Therapist“. Melissa is a Mental Health Counselor LPCC and Fly Fishing Guide based in Colorado. Give her a follow on Instagram at @big_mac_fishing.