Health & Safety

Health & Safety

Hydration Basics

  • By: Michael Gracie

j Two o’clock rolls around. You’ve been marching through that canyon since dawn, and the fishing is spectacular. Then out of nowhere you suddenly run out of steam. Maybe I ate lunch too early, you think. You have a half sandwich and a few cookies left, but the truth is that may not help. While you are surrounded by water, you’ve actually become dehydrated.

The average adult body is composed of between 50 percent and 65 percent water. The composition tends to be a little higher in men than in women, and can be as much as five to 10 percentage points lower in those who are heavier set. Meanwhile, the average adult loses up to 500 milliliters of water a day through breathing, even without exertion from trail blazing or wading. That water loss is a matter of simple physics; exhaled breath has a relative humidity of 100 percent, whereas the air you take in may be as little as 10 percent to 20 percent. Keep that ratio up for a few hours without supplementing your liquid intake and you will crumple.

Your body needs, and wants, to maintain its norm—it says you are overloaded when it signals you to urinate, and on the flip side makes your mouth and throat dry when it wants you to take a drink. Unfortunately, when you are standing in or around water, your mind might play tricks on you—plenty of water in plain view, so you assume you don’t need any yourself. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Rick Griffin, an avid fly angler, knows the ins and outs of hydration in the field—he’s the trainer for the Seattle Mariners and has taken care of some of the best baseball players in history, including Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and Felix Hernandez. Griffin notes that anglers often hike from one run to the next, over and over, during the course of a day, and then they don’t rehydrate properly. “This can cause leg cramps and muscle fatigue, which puts you at risk for dehydration.

“I encourage the use of Fosfee Tablets and Gatorlytes (a sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium powder blend that’s added to water), both of which replace valuable electrolytes,” Griffin told me. “Eating bananas and managing fluid replacement with water, V8 juice or various Gatorade products helps, too.”

And it doesn’t end there. Remember how good a cold beer tastes after a long day on the water under the hot sun? Griffin says, “A cold beer won’t cover you. Remember, beer and/or hard liquor is not a proper way to replace fluids.”

Kara Armano is a pubic relations guru at Backbone Media, and is on the water more than 50 days a year. She’s also a mountain biker. So she knows dehydration. To keep fueled and feeling good, Armano generally carries water in a simple Katadyn bottle. “If I need some electrolyte replacement, I toss a Camelback tablet into the bottle. For full-day or longer hikes in, I’ll carry water in a hydration bladder. I also carry a Katadyn filter for backup, using an iodine tablet to ensure purity and some Gatorade mix to enhance the taste.”

If you, too, favor good old-fashioned H2O, but are already carrying 12 tippet spools in each of the water bottle holders on your fanny pack, you’ll need a different option. Fortunately, a number of companies offer hydration bladders to go along with their packs. One example is fishpond, which has their Waterlog Hydration Reservoirs in 35-, 52- and 100-ounce sizes, covering their entire fishing backpack line. For the less gear-houndish, carrying one too many fly boxes is ample preparation for that unexpected spinnerfall, but still leaves little room in the vest or fanny pack for hydration essentials. If that is the case, the Platypus Softbottle, from Cascade Designs, comes in 0.5- and 1-liter sizes, and when empty rolls up small enough to fit in a front shirt pocket.

Don’t let conditions or venue determine your need to hydrate. We have all stood in rain, sleet and snow to satisfy our urge to get a strike, but those types of conditions can be deceiving. You are often wearing breathable waders; they keep you dry, but you are still perspiring—the waders and your layering are just doing their job of drawing that sweat away from your skin so you stay warm. And don’t think that being in the water helps matters. Griffin says, “It concerns me that anglers sit in a float tube in very cold water, spend all day kicking and paddling, yet they don’t carry a drop to drink.”

No matter where or how you fish, hydration matters. Don’t be the person who brings the whole team down because you didn’t hydrate and now want off the water early . . . just as the fishing gets hot. Remembering to take in plenty of fluids means building good habits, like drinking plenty of water throughout the day. You will soon find yourself packing water, multiple bottles or bladders and supplements, adding them to the list that already includes rods, reels and flies. You’ll outlast your fishing partners, have your fly in the water longer, and catch more fish. w