As you've probably noticed in our videos, our dogs love to go fishing with us. While we anglers sometimes have our struggles and tough days, the dogs are having the time of their lives, and I’m happy to share that with you. But off-camera things are a bit trickier when taking your pups to the river - Here are things to consider if you plan to fish with your dog.
When fishing with your dog, or any time you take your dog outside the security of your home for that matter, you’re responsible for your dog’s safety and well being- So lower your expectations of catching fish by realizing that your time in the water fishing will be less than usual, your choices of fishing locations will be limited, and you’ll now have to redirect your focus and keep an eye out for what your fur buddy is doing.
Although he loves water, Winston is not the best swimmer. I avoid waters that have fast runs and waterfalls. Even in slower moving water I’ll watch for ice shelves, undercut banks, and water with fallen trees and branches where he could get caught. I always keep an eye on him when we’re crossing the river and I’m ready to jump in should he get into trouble.
Some dogs eat grass and flowers so learn which ones are poisonous to dogs, like milkweed and daffodils. I’ll carry dog treats on long fishing days so he’s less likely to eat something bad for him when he gets hungry. In certain areas I’ll keep an eye out for poison oak- It won't hurt the dog but he'll spread it to you and your family for sure.
In cold or hot weather, make sure your dog isn't suffering. Watch for excessive shivering in the cold or panting and lying down in the heat. Clear snow mud and rocks out of his toes once in a while and make sure the ground isn't burning his feet on hot days.
Avoid high debris areas. Barbed wire, glass, sharp rocks are all things we step right over without a thought, but keep in mind that your dog isn’t wearing wading boots. I’ll stay away from areas that I know have lots of thorns and stickers.
Don’t take your dog fishing in areas where you’ve seen poisonous snakes, porcupines, mountain lions, skunks, coyotes, wolves, etc. If you chance it, be sure to keep a leash with you in case you have to keep your dog close.
Don’t take your dog fishing in heavily populated waters. Some people don’t like dogs, and some dogs don’t like other dogs. If people approach you, wade close to shore or step out of the water until they pass. Also, never fish with your dog near busy roads.
THINGS TO CARRY
I always carry a first aid kit in my fishing pack with the usual bandages, meds, thermal blanket, lighter, gauze and wrap. These can all be used to help your dog in an emergency but keep him away from the Ibuprofen. In my truck, I keep dog cleansing supplies, poison oak remover, water, skunk kit (bucket, dish soap, peroxide), a plastic cone for transport to the ER (this also works great for fanning campfires).
When traveling to new fishing locations the chances are high that there won’t be any cell reception. This will make it tough to find the nearest vet hospital should something happen. Furthermore, most vets aren’t open on weekends. Do research ahead of time to find out the nearest 24-hour emergency vet hospital.
Like everything about fly fishing, bringing your dog is another detail that requires more of your time, and at times can be a burden. And if you’re the type of angler whose sole purpose of fly fishing is to catch fish, then I’m going to urge you to keep your dog safe at home. But if you’re like me, I’ll take a day on the river with Winston and 0 fish, then a 10 fish day without him.
By Jeff Sasaki
International Women's Fly Fishing Day Sept 12, 2020
Fishing with our Dogs at the Mustang Ranch in Nevada