All-Day Fishing: Fending Off Fatigue

How do you feel after a full day of bass fishing? Fatigued I bet — me, too! Some days wear on me more severely than others depending on the style of fishing and weather.

Whatever the day presents, as a tournament fisherman, I want to minimize the “drain” so my mind and body stays active with the task on hand. That’s because I’ve learned that fatigue can diminish my results. 

Fatigue makes my mind lazy so I’m not thinking as sharply. It has me thinking about laying down and resting, and yearning for the day to end. When instead, I need to be analyzing the moment, and put into action any adjustments to my fishing methods and locations.  

Jim Moynagh (Photo courtesy of FLW Outdoors)

Yes, I may be tired at the end of a full day on the water, however, I can do a bunch of little things to help manage it. So here’s a few things (in no particular order) that I pay attention to in order to stay alert.

1) Nutrition 
In this day and age, we are bombarded by the preachings of proper nutrition. Take it seriously because it does help combat fatigue. Start the morning with a proper breakfast. Bring healthy foods in the boat. Sometimes my problem is ignoring the food I do bring in the boat. That’s a MISTAKE! I force myself to eat a mid-morning healthy snack, then a quick sandwich around mid-day, and then another snack later. Typically my snacks are fruits, carrots, and/or protein bars. I’m not immune from eating chips and sugary treats as well. I love this kind of stuff! However, this will comprise a limited portion of my intake when I’m fishing.

2) Hydration 
I always pay attention to hydration, but am most diligent about it in hot weather. I have experienced various levels of dehydration several times and understand the negative results it produces. Dehydration can make me extremely indecisive and not sharp. Dehydration dumbs me down and causes headaches. Obviously to avoid it, drink proper fluids. I’ve heard from several sources that caffeine contributes to dehydration so avoid it. That means I don’t drink soda drinks, coffee or tea in the boat. My means of coping with dehydration starts right away in the morning. In addition to any fruit juice I may drink with breakfast, I make it a point to slug down like a quart of water. Then in the boat I’ll bring lots of water, fruit/vegetable drinks, and sports drinks containing electrolytes. Like I mentioned with food, I can be bad about ignoring the drinks I carry. So I force myself to take periodic drinks even though I may not feel completely thirsty at the time.

3) Sleep
This is pretty obvious — just get the sleep you need.

4) Standing Vs. Sitting
Clearly, standing will drain more energy than sitting. Therefore, why not sit when you can? Certain techniques such as flippin’, pitchin’ and sight-fishing, for example, are best executed while standing, so you have to stay on your feet all day when the conditions call for it. Many techniques, however, can be equally executed from a sitting position. I can walk a football jig down a deep drop-off equally well in either position. I take advantage of this and will sit or lean on my front pedestal seat while fishing certain ways. This way, I conserve myself, allowing for better awareness later in the day.

5) Shoes
Over the years, I’ve fished in many types of footwear and have noticed a significant difference among them in how I feel at day’s end. So, weather permitting, I fish in top-grade running shoes. This type of shoe leaves my body feeling much better as compared to something like a flip-flop sandal. I don’t know the science behind it, I just know that it is the way it is.

6) Body Condition
Sports have taught me that extra body fat is a drag on endurance. Bass fishing all day long is basically a challenge of endurance. Therefore, having a reasonable level of body fat is beneficial towards enduring a long day of fishing. Excessive body fat is going to leave you more fatigued by day’s end as compared to not having it. Don’t get me wrong, you can still be an awesome fisherman and be overweight. I’m just pointing out the fact that an overweight condition will leave you more fatigued in the end.

7) Recessed Trolling Motor Foot Pedal
Standing and operating the trolling motor’s foot pedal really is draining. Much of your body’s weight is on one leg while the other controls the pedal. Plus there’s balance involved, which is taxing at times. To help reduce this energy drainer, some bass boat builders, such as Ranger Boats, now recess the pedal into the front deck so that the pedal is level with the deck. This way, body weight is more equally distributed between legs and balance isn’t such a big deal. For older boats without a recess, kits are available to convert the deck so it has one. However, be cautious and be sure to understand any warranty issues that could be involved with installing such a kit.

8) Padded Front Deck
Padding installed under the front deck’s carpet helps ease fatigue. Every person I’ve ever discussed this with will testify to this benefit. Some boat manufacturers, such as Ranger Boats, incorporate it as a standard feature in many of their models.

As your day of bass fishing enters the late hours, how alert and aware you remain depends upon how well you prepared yourself to deal with fatigue. Ignore it and surely your day will end early with the likelihood of having caught fewer bass. Prepare yourself properly, and you’ll be the last one loading the boat, more likely to have figured out a successful pattern(s), and looking forward to repeating it all again the next day!

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Jim Moynagh writes a twice-monthly bass fishing column on Visit Jim on Facebook at!/pages/Jim-Moynagh/167413610047622?fref=ts He is a FLW touring pro, and a former Forrest Wood Open Champion with multiple top 10 finishes. In 2012, he finished in fourth place for Angler of the Year honors. He also finished in fourth place two-straight times in FLW events in 2012. His expertise is deep-water structure fishing for large and smallmouth bass. Jim’s sponsors include M&M’s, All-Terrain Tackle, Chevy Trucks, and Ranger Boats.

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