Proper Nutrition, Fishing Go Hand-In-Hand

I love this time of year! Spring — the season of rebirth — is in full bloom.

Here in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, where I make my home with my wife and five daughters, as I write this, the walleye opener is only days away — and thank goodness, because I’m ready for the open-water season to begin in earnest.

In short order, the bass season will open, too. And there’s always a chance — even a good one, particularly this time of year — to get into a piscatorial slugfest with a toothy northern pike.

Babe Winkelman

Ah, the joys of fishing!

We anglers are unrivaled in our preparation for the sport we love. We take care of our rods, reels, and tackle, not to mention boats and motors, much like we care for our hunting dogs: with commitment, passion, dedication and zeal.

Prepare Your Body For The Water
Still, early in the fishing season, we sometimes throw logic (and caution) to the wind and forget about preparing our bodies and minds for the rigors of the sport. Our gear is ready, but sometimes our bodies are not.

The truth is, to achieve optimum fishing performance over a long period of time, you have to stay well fueled before, during and after a day on the water. That means eating well-balanced meals and taking in enough fluids, especially H2O — water. A good night of sleep doesn’t hurt either.

The bottom line is that you don’t want to hit the proverbial wall by neglecting what your mind and body needs to perform at a high level. Let’s face it, fishing can be a physically and mentally demanding sport. Spend a day battling white sturgeon, those prehistoric monsters with bad attitudes, and you’ll burn more calories than a child tearing it up at the local playground will.

Ditto for casting foot-long stick baits for muskies. Or wade fishing for spring-run steelhead. It’s easy to get lost in the moment, of course, because fishing is so intoxicating.

Keep Your Mental/Physical Edge
Still, you don’t want to lose your mental or physical edge. An angler who is “running on empty” is an angler prone to making poor judgments or mistakes. Some mistakes are meaningless, like missing a strike. But others could have potentially dire consequences.

So what’s the best course of action to ensure you’re ready for a day of hardcore fishing? First, plan ahead and start early. Begin preparing your body and, by extension, your mind the night before your day of fishing.

Drink plenty of water before your head hits the pillow and eat a balanced meal. Avoid alcohol as much as possible. As always, think moderation when it comes to its consumption.

Begin the morning with a banana or another piece of fruit and more water. A few hours later, eat a late breakfast that includes a healthy portion of protein and some form of complex carbohydrates.

Avoid Caffeine
I love to drink coffee, but nutritionists recommend staying away from caffeine (it’s a diuretic), particularly on warm days. If you do drink coffee or other drinks with caffeine, make sure to offset it by drinking more water. Generally speaking, eat natural and stay away from processed foods and drinks.

Ted Takasaki, president of Minnesota-based Lindy Little Joe (, which manufactures the popular Max Gap Jigs and Munchies soft plastics, said he keeps close tabs on his water consumption during a long day of fishing, especially during the dog days of summer.

Takasaki, a professional walleye angler for more than 15 years and a “Featured Expert” here on, said he believes that proper hydration is one of the keys to keeping his internal motor running at peak efficiency.

“When it is really warm, I drink a lot of water and Gatorade to replenish my fluids,” he said. “I could eat better than I do, but I’m always monitoring the amount of fluids I take in. When I don’t, I certainly can tell the difference in how I feel.”

Eat Several Small Meals
To keep your blood sugar stable and energy high throughout the day, nutritionists recommend eating several small meals a day rather than one or two large ones. That’s good advice. After all, if you eat too much you’ll feel tired and lethargic — and that’s something you want to avoid like the plague, especially when you’re supposed to be fishing.

I like to snack on “portable” foods such as Jack Link’s beef jerky, which is low in fat, high in protein and an excellent overall energy source. Jerky will also keep well in a cooler or even in your pocket. Stick some in a plastic bag and find out.

Here again, stay away from processed foods such as donuts or cupcakes. If you need to eat something round, try a multi-grain bagel. It may look like a donut, but that’s where the similarities end.

Spring is here, and so, too, is the fishing season. Prepare your gear with care, but also remember that your body and mind need the same kind of attention. You won’t be sorry.

Good fishing!

For an assortment of Babe Winkelman fishing DVDs, click here.

For a fine assortment of Freshwater fishing gear, click here.

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