Fishing the open ocean can be trying if “tossing your cookies” is the primary activity on your boat. Some people have absolutely no problem with motion sickness but most people have a limit. And if you are prone to not feeling well, the thought of booking an ocean fishing trip might be intimidating. Here are some practical tips to ease the quease when you’re on the wild coast.

We used to have a lot of puking but not so much anymore. As with anything it is about learning. Using these tips we have less and less people affected by seasickness. For starters, did you know that it is not your guts that control the problem? Seasickness or motion sickness is generated from changes in your equilibrium, which happens in your inner ear. However, treating your five senses well goes a long way to keeping your lunch in your body. Over the years we have learned by trial and “hurl” the do’s and don’ts.

GUT (Yours not the fish’s): What you eat is important in how you feel. Clean fuel is important and moderation is the key. Trying to go into the swells on an empty stomach or just a load of coffee is not a good approach. Stuffing a huge greasy breakfast into oneself is not the way to go either. Light, protein-filled healthy food seems the ticket. Some granola, fruit salad, yogurt, juice and protein from nuts and seeds (and a little coffee) is the approach to eating I recommend. Some recommended foods that you can bring aboard to prevent or help with the problem include green apples and ginger.

SMELLS: When traveling or fishing at sea, fresh air is key. Keep the fresh air in your face to avoid bad smells. A whiff of fuel or fish guts can put you off if you are on the edge. The use of 4-stroke engines have helped immensely: they are a big improvement on the fumes of stinky 2 stroke oil burners. Trolling on the little 9.9’s is a perfect scenario. Keeping one’s boat clean is another important thing to do. A stinky fish locker or bait container can inspire you to “Ralph” at the dock. Throw in a 10 foot swell and you may be done. Drink a lot of beer the night before, have coffee and greasy breakfast and go below for a morning constitutional and your own body aromas are sure to put you over the gunwale!

VISION: Keep your eye on the horizon. Keep your head up and look around and try to focus on a distant steady (land, immovable object) sight. The kiss of death is to stare at something close at hand that is moving. After years of fishing I still get queasy when I am on my knees in the bottom of the boat trying to concentrate on a project when the boat is pitching. Throw in a stinky whatever…and it gets worse. MOTION: Limit the rock and roll. Our guides are experienced enough to fish into or with the swell to limit the rolling and this helps.

MEDICATION: If you are prone to motion sickness take your pills or put on your patches well in advance. Read the directions: they know what they are talking about. You tough guys and gals out there, seasickness is not a slight on your ruggedness, it is just one of those things. To be stoic or tough and try to ride it out without medication can really backfire on you. I have seen the consumption of a pill one second at sea then 3 seconds later seen it firing over the side. Give the medication the time it needs to work! And if the urge is overwhelming, we beg you, keep it downwind!

Let’s go fishing!

– Mike Barker