Peter Baker's Outdoor Journal


January 16, 1992|By PETER BAKER

This weekend ...

* Before winter blew into the area at midweek, bass fishing was good on the tidal Potomac River and trout fishing was productive on the Gunpowder River. Given the forecast for cold weather through the weekend, however, fishing will be limited and wading or running a boat could be dangerous.

The major danger, of course, is hypothermia, an equal opportunity killer that can put the big chill on fishermen, hunters, hikers and skiiers alike.

Those at greatest risk are hunters shoot over water and fishermen. The reason is that getting wet presents the highest risk of hypothermia.

Tuesday morning, for example, waterfowl guide Columbus "Dutch" Swonger had a party of four hunters out on Eastern Bay for a day of shooting, an undertaking he has organized many times before.

On Tuesday at about 7:15 p.m., however, Swonger's 23-foot boat capsized after running over its anchor line and taking water over the stern, according to Natural Resources Police. All five aboard were thrown into the water and one man, Thomas Mitchell of Baltimore, is believed to have drowned as a result.

Of the others aboard, all of whom were in the water for more than two hours alongside the capsized boat, two were later treated for hypothermia at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis. Two others were treated at the scene.

So, accidents in cold water are a clear and present danger -- even when with experienced skippers. Swonger is an officer in the U.S. Merchant Marine.

Hypothermia is a condition of abnormally low body temperature, and when the body core temperature drops far enough the heart stops working.

Warning signs of hypothermia are subtle at first, as the body drops to between 95 and 87 degrees, with a decrease in heart vTC rate and blood pressure marked by increasing drowsiness.

From about 86 to 82 degrees, a loss of consciousness will occur.

Once the core temperature falls to below about 64 degrees, the heart stops, blood flow ends and electrical activity of the brain ceases.

The Natural Resources Police recommends the following precautions to prevent hypothermia:

Stay dry and avoid continued exposure to the wind.

Put on rain or snow gear before you get cold or wet.

If you fall into the water, do not remove your clothing unless you have a dry set with you. Even wet clothes will trap body heat.

If boating, wear a life jacket, which will reduce the need to move and expand energy and also insulate against heat loss.

If you do fall in a body of water, obviously, get out as quickly as possible, without worrying about a set of decoys or a lost rod and reel.

Do not give alcohol to anyone showing the symptoms of hypothermia -- alcohol will dilate blood vessels and cause a loss of body heat.

Get medical assistance as soon as possible.

Calendar ...

* Saturday: Close of Canada goose hunting season.

* Saturday: Fishermen's flea market sponsored by the Central Maryland Bassmasters at the Freedom Community Center, Route 32 just south of Route 26, Liberty Road. 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $1.50. For more information, call 442-2323, 876-3137 or 795-8868.

* Saturday: Mountain Club of Maryland hike through Baltimore neighborhoods with lunch at Haussners. For more information, call 740-0728.

* Saturday: Mountain Club of Maryland hike near Hawk Rock in Duncannon, Pa. For more information, call 760-6041.

* Sunday: Mountain Club of Maryland in Loch Raven watershed. For more information, call 647-0734.

* Sunday: Trout fishing clinic sponsored by Potomac-Patuxent Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Wheaton High School, 12601 Dalewood Drive, Wheaton, Md. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lectures, flea market, movies and demonstrations. For more information, call 301-384-0424.

Planning ahead ...

* Jan. 23-26: Mid-Atlantic Outdoor Sportsmen's Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. Hunting and fishing displays as well as seminars. Adults $5, 10-14 $2, and under-10 free. Jan. 23 and 24, 1 to 10 p.m.; Jan. 25, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Jan. 26, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 717-689-7200.

* Jan. 24-25: Special two-day firearms season for deer in Worcester County.

* Jan. 24-25-26: Delaware Sportfishing Show at the NUR Temple Shrine in New Castle. For more information, call 410-841-6974.

* Feb. 1-9: Baltimore Boat Show at the Convention Center.

Monday through Friday, the show opens at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, the show opens at 11 a.m.

L * Jan. 31: Close of bow hunting season for deer in Maryland.

Latest reading ...

* During the past few years, books on fishing rivers in our region seem to have been rolling out with some regularity. Bill Anderson, outdoors editor of the Hagerstown Herald, has joined the list with a nice work titled, "Fishing the Rivers of the Mid-Atlantic."

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