Have you ever been out fishing and wished you had a sidearm on you? Maybe you’ve never thought about this before. If you haven’t great, but you’re one of the lucky ones.
Actually, there are some serious benefits to carrying a firearm while you’re fishing, and it’s not all about self-defense. The reasons can range all over the board from the simple to serious. What you find below may surprise you.
Maybe you’ve never felt the need to carry, but there are a lot of stories out there that might convince you differently. Read on to see our list of 6 benefits to carrying a sidearm while fishing.
1) PROTECTION FROM PEOPLE
This one may seem obvious, but the main reason that people carry a sidearm at all is to offer some protection from other people.After all, there’s a reason most people say, ”It’s not the four-legged creatures that are the problem; it’s the two-legged ones you have to watch out for.”
But is this really something to be concerned about?
Imagine you work it out that you’re going to spend the whole day fishing. As an experienced angler, you know that the early morning is one of the best times to catch fish. The water is beginning to warm up, and the fish are just starting to get active.
You set off in your truck to your favorite spot in the early darkness of the morning. As you park and gather your gear to go out and find that sweet spot along the river, you notice another car is already there.
Not a big deal, you think to yourself. Probably just another fisherman.
With your pole and tackle ready, you start to set off when someone gets out of the car and approaches you. Anglers are known for being friendly so nothing sets off your danger sense at first.
But when the person starts to talk you just get this weird feeling, and you want to leave the situation as quickly (and safely) as possible. You get out of the conversation and head to your spot, but the whole time you’re there you’re wondering if they followed you.
Maybe nothing happens from this kind of situation. But do you really want to risk it?
Fishing, especially fishing on the bank, can be an isolated activity. Choosing to carry a sidearm as potential protection doesn’t make you paranoid or a gun nut; it makes you prepared.
2) BEAR ATTACKS
Anytime you spend long periods out in the woods, the fear of bears is something a lot of people deal with. Realistically your odds of coming across and bear and getting attacked are pretty low. But low odds don’t mean that it doesn’t happen.
There are three deaths on average in the US from bear attacks every year. This number is low, but it doesn’t include the number of bear encounters.
Just like the fisherman, bears love fish too. Both groups love the salmon run when the fish return upstream to reproduce. There’s something beautiful about seeing all those fish leaping out of the water.
It’s not unreasonable to find yourself in a situation where you’re spin or fly-fishing with your sunglasses on to see the fish better in the water. You’re having a great time when you look up to see a massive grizzly doing the same thing.
In this kind of situation, the best thing to do is to stay calm. But all official services will tell you that if the bear attacks you and doesn’t seem to be moving on, you need to fight back with everything you got.
If you’re carrying a sidearm, “everything you got” can include a .45 with some firepower to make even the heaviest bear think twice.
3) PREDATOR DEFENSE
Bears aren’t the only thing to watch out for in the wild. Depending on your area, there can be any number of predators that you may encounter. These may include:
- Mountain Lions
Like bears, the likelihood of being endangered by one of these animals is quite low. However, if you’re on a longer camping trip or you prefer to prepare the fish right when you catch them, the smell of the fish you’ve caught can attract the attention of these predators.
One thing I love to do is go out fishing with the goal of catching my lunch. I set out early, catch a few walleye, clean them, and start my fire on the spot. There’s something satisfying about feeding yourself immediately from what you’ve caught.
But there’s always that chance that a coyote could come inspecting what it is you have. A sidearm can make you feel more secure and protect yourself in this kind of situation.
Just like with bears, your initial reaction should be to leave the animal alone, but if they attack you can fight back with your handgun. You have the right to defend yourself.
4) HUNTING FOR SURVIVAL
Imagine you’re heading out to your favorite lake in the middle of a mountain valley. You launch your boat and motor the 2 hours it takes to get there. It’s a wonderfully secluded spot.
Still, there’s another boat out there enjoying themselves. Maybe they’re water skiing. As they go around the lake, you set up your trolling motor and have yourself a relaxing but fun time.
All of a sudden, you feel your boat shudder, and your boat begins to sink. The pilot of the boat wasn’t looking and ran right into you. Your boat couldn’t withstand the hit and sinks quickly while their boat is still functional.
The kid driving the boat panics and buzzes off leaving you alone far away from any cities. You get the boat to shore just before it’s no use, and your phone has no service.
You were smart enough to tell someone where you were heading, but you have no idea how long it’s going to be before someone gets to you. As you sit there and wonder about what do next, you start to feel hungry, and you spy a rabbit nearby in the underbrush.
Do you pull your sidearm and fire? Did you bring it?
Even the best angler in the world knows that sometimes the fish just don’t bite. Having a handgun with you when you’re fishing can be helpful for survival. Hunting is a useful option for food when you have a gun to use.
You may think this scenario is far-fetched, but there are more boating accidents that occur than you may think. According to this United States Coast Guard report, there were over 5,000 recreational boating accidents that occurred in 2017 alone. It could happen to you.
5) CONVERSATION STARTER
One of my favorite things about fishing is just getting together with my buddies and being able to talk about whatever we want. There’s something unique about the camaraderie between fishermen that almost makes the whole experience by itself.
You may think it’s silly to think about it in this way, but carrying a sidearm is actually a great conversation starter. In my experience, people are naturally curious about guns even if they don’t know anything about them.
Gun enthusiasts love to talk about guns. If you’re one of us, you understand. Firearms are exciting and interesting pieces of equipment.
If you wear your sidearm while fishing, you’re probably going to find a lot of people wanting to talk about any number of gun-related topics including:
- What’re you carrying?
- What holster do you wear?
- Do you target practice?
- Do you hunt?
This can take your experience to the next level with great conversation, companionship, and, of course, fishing.
6) KEEP YOUR GUN SAFE
There are a lot of outdoor hobbies that cross-over for most people. For example, I enjoy hunting and camping quite a bit, but I also enjoy fishing and hiking. Liking one thing doesn’t mean you can’t like the other.
So maybe you’re one of the many fishermen that enjoy using guns for hunting or protection. There’s a chance that you haven’t been convinced that carrying a handgun is a good idea while fishing.
Many fishermen will leave their guns in their vehicle while they go out. You can safely leave your gun in the car with a locked box. Even then, though, your gun is at risk.
While you’re out for hours, someone can break into your car and steal your valuables including your handgun. Even with a locked box, the criminal can carry the whole box away.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there are over 700,000 car thefts every year. This doesn’t even include the break-in statistics where the criminal only takes the valuables inside the car.
Why risk your handgun when you don’t have to? If you keep it with you, you get all the benefits we talked about above as well as keeping your gun safe by keeping it with you.
ADVICE FOR CARRYING WHILE FISHING
If you do decide to carry a sidearm while fishing, there are some things you want to think about to make sure you, those around you, and your firearm are as safe as possible. These methods of carrying can help you carry safely and enjoy the benefits of your sidearm.
ON YOUR LIFE VEST
If your life vest has a sealable pocket, this wouldn’t be a bad place to keep a gun. I recommend putting the gun in a Ziploc bag to protect it from potential water damage. This method keeps the gun with you wherever you go even if you go overboard, but it is harder to get access to the firearm quickly.
IN A HOLSTER
Of course, you can always use a standard holster to keep your gun with you and secure. I recommend the holster you use has at least one mechanical retention such as a strap to keep the gun in place. Make sure the holster either uses belt loops or a strong clip to secure to your belt.
If you were still worried about water damage, you can always use a Ziploc bag in combination with a larger-size holster with a strap or mechanical retention. This combines the best of both worlds.
IN A LOCKBOX
If you don’t want to carry your gun but you still want it with you, you can always store it in a waterproof lockbox. Some can even float in water. You won’t be able to access the gun quickly, but the gun is still safe and nearby in case you need it.
Warning! Whichever way you decide to go, don’t opt to just use a standard retention holster or put the gun in one of the storage spaces on the boat. Water can get choppy and fishing sometimes requires a lot of motion that can knock the gun out of its holster or out of the boat.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is it legal to carry a sidearm while fishing? – As with most laws involving guns, it largely depends on where you are and what state you’re fishing in. State and local laws have the most impact, so research what laws impact gun carry in your area. Check with local and state police for the most up to date information.
In general, if it’s legal on the land you’re near, it’s legal on water.
What kind of sidearm should I carry? – There aren’t any fishing-specific requirements for a sidearm, so I would go with what you carry normally. If you want some input, I recommend a compact 9 mm. They provide a good balance of firepower and easy concealment.
We hope you enjoyed this article and can see the benefits of carrying a sidearm while fishing. It’s not just about self-defense, but that’s always a big concern. It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
A gun can also make a great conversation starter, and you may just want to keep your sidearm with you just to keep it safe. It doesn’t matter why you carry, but rest assured that you know you can get something positive out of it if you do.
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