KNOW THIS ONE TRICK IF YOU GET STUNG BY A STINGRAY
Meet Mikey. Mikey was recently stung by a stingray on his hand and had to suffer through much of the same pain I endured. If you’re not sure how bad it hurts I can tell you I would rather have anybody swing a Louisville slugger between my legs before I let another stingray get me! If you look at the picture of Mikey he looks to be in rough shape, but he is doing much better since his hand is in a tub of hot water. It is not common knowledge that hot water helps stop the pain associated with stingray stings. The hot water does this because it will dissolve the protein-based venom found in stingray barbs. Do not use cold water or ice packs! It could make the wound more painful. Instead, let the hot water open the wound, break down the venom and ooze out.
Chances are you don’t have hot water aboard your boat and chances are even better that you don’t have a microwave or stove aboard either! But that doesn’t mean you are out of luck. You can use the water circulated out of your motor. It’s just as hot as any water and will help break that venom down. The down side to this is that it is straight sea water and not fresh water out of a bottle or faucet. If you are bank fishing on a beach you can use hot sand to achieve a similar effect as hot water.
During the warm months vibrio vulnificus can run rampant. It takes only a small prick from a stingray to become infected with it. Vibrio is a flesh eating disease that will cause you far more problems than the pain associated with a ray’s sting. For this reason, I carry a spray bottle of bleach to flush wounds with to kill the bacteria on contact. This will hold me over until I can properly clean the wound at home.
It goes without saying that you should go to the hospital if a sting is more than just a sting, especially if the barb breaks off in your flesh and gets stuck there. Barbs are exactly that, barbs! They are worse than your fishing hook and are not designed to be easily removed. Go to the hospital as soon as possible if you are seriously wounded and have a professional remove the barb. Just take a look at the picture, they are no joke! You should still go to the emergency room if there is any doubt in your mind that your sting is serious, even if the barb comes out. Better safe than sorry.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so it’s best to prevent stingrays from stinging in the first place. If you do catch one, you are better off just cutting the line as short as possible, especially if you are by yourself. You can avoid catching them in the first place by becoming more proficient with artificial lures rather than using live bait. Shuffle your feet if you are wade fishing so you don’t step on a stingray.
Shuffle your feet if you are wade fishing.
Fishing the inshore waters of Louisiana and Florida is one of the greatest pleasures on this Earth but it has its dangers. While the risk is worth it, an angler should always be prepared and know what to do. Do you have a cell phone signal where you are going? Do you have a VHF radio? Do you have a kit for emergencies? These are questions you should ask yourself and get the answers to.
And it is answers that we are all about at the Blog. Tackle shops provide lures and marinas provide a launch. The Louisiana Fishing Blog provides knowledge and now you know one more thing to help you Fish Smarter. Catch some fish and stay safe out there!
CAPTAIN DEVIN / Louisiana Fishing Blog