Participant safety should always be your number one concern. Fortunately, fishing is generally a very safe activity.
However, it pays to take some added precautions, for several reasons: 1) it takes place around water, 2) may involve off-trail hiking, 3) uses equipment with sharp hooks, and if successful, 4) may involve sharp knives. When safety is concerned, it is important to plan ahead.
Because people with limited skills will likely be casting baits and lures with sharp hooks, and hopefully, unhooking numerous flopping fish, participants should be taught how to remove embedded hooks. The modern method is to pull the hook out back the same way it went in. To do this, wrap a piece of strong line around the hook's shank, push down on the hook shank, and give a strong, sudden pull. It is quick, easy, is relatively painless and does not create more tissue damage like the older “push-through-and-clip the barb-off” method. Wounds should be thoroughly washed and dressed with an antibiotic cream. Participants also should be advised that keeping their tetanus shots up-to-date would prevent any ancillary medical problems resulting from an embedded hook.
Other than embedded hooks, the hazards associated with fishing are no different than any other outdoor activity that occurs around water.
Life vests should always be worn by non-swimmers that are fishing near shore, and by everyone while in a boat. Having a boat “throw cushion,” or rope nearby, even on land is a good idea as well. Throw cushions provide a good place to sit when fishing from shore.
Similar to other outdoor activities, participants need to pay attention to the potential for sunburn and use sunscreen. In addition, staying properly hydrated is also important.
Fishing for some of the early spawning species may be conducted before the water or air warms up to summertime temperatures, so hypothermia could be a concern if they get wet while fishing during that time. Hypothermia is always a potential concern while ice fishing.
In the summer, other normal outdoor hazards such as biting insects, poison ivy, hiking on uneven terrain, and encounters with wild animals may also come into play. Knowledge, avoidance and being prepared all go a long way in having a safe and enjoyable outing.