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Delaware Assistive Technology Initiative

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Volume 12, No. 2, Spring 2004

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Go Fish — With Adaptive Fishing Equipment

Dan Fendler, AT Specialist, Sussex County ATRC

If you have ever wanted to kick back, relax, and enjoy a day of fishing, but did not think you could because you could not find adapted fishing equipment or tournaments, read on.

While researching this article, I found there are dozens of good resources for adapted fishing equipment. There is one resource, however, that is referred to (repeatedly) on many Websites. That resource is Access to Recreation, a catalog vendor based in Newbury Park, California. All of the equipment mentioned in this article may be purchased through Access to Recreation. For more information regarding Access to Recreation, to order equipment, or to request a catalog, visit them at www.AccessTR.com or contact the company at (800) 634-4351.

When searching for adapted fishing equipment, there are a number of modifications to consider in light of physical strengths and limitations. Modifications to consider are the adaptation of the fishing reel or rod to make grasping easier, changes to the way the rod is held to create greater stability, and also adjustments to the rod to make casting easier.

A limited grip will not limit the fishing experience

People with upper extremity weakness might consider using an electric reel. Electric reels are similar to standard reels except that they are battery powered. A few examples include the Elec-Tra-Mate ® and the John's Reel.

The Elec-Tra-Mate (Figure 1), by Electric Fishing Reel Systems, Inc. is available with a remote waterproof switch and a clip that allows the user to attach it to his/her own power source (an option for those with power chairs). For more information regarding the Elec-Tra-Mate and other adapted fishing devices from Electric Fishing Reel Systems, visit the company's Website, www.elec-tra-mate.com. The Elec-Tra-Mate retails for around $360.

Elec-Tra-Mate  Figure 1

The John's Reel is another power-driven electric fishing reel. This reel works well for single-handed users. It allows the individual to enjoy the full fishing experience, from setting the drag to playing the fish on the line. Because the John's Reel is available with several options, persons with higher quadriplegia can also use this device to fish. A remote push button and a remote joystick can be mounted on an armrest or headrest. The joystick can also be mounted on the reel itself. John's Reel prices depend upon what options are required. Prices range from $369-$389.

The Strong Arm rod holder is a device for the fishing enthusiast with limited or no grip. The holder attaches securely to the user's wrist to provide additional support for the rod. With the support provided by the Strong Arm, an angler with lower level quadriplegia can cast with no assistance. The Strong Arm is available through Access to Recreation for $35.95.

Stability will keep "the big one" from getting away

There are several options for those seeking greater stability while fishing. One option is a splint. Splints come in various sizes and may be used on either hand. A harness rod holder may be another device to consider. The Angler's Aid Rod Holder, a suspender-style harness, holds all four styles of rods and is made for single-handed use. This device may be purchased from Access to Recreation for $69. Attachable pole holders are another device available to provide additional stability. The holder clamps directly onto any type of wheelchair or lawn chair, keeping the pole in place while making the reel easily accessible to the user.

Casting problems solved

Another problem that anglers may experience is difficulty when casting. Individuals with severe upper extremity disabilities may find Van's E-Z Cast the answer to their problems. The device is a mechanical casting tool designed by an individual with quadriplegia. It activates with little upper-body movement, and the cast and reel work independently even with no wrist or finger movement. For fully automated fishing, consider coupling the E-Z Cast with an electric reel.

Fishing tournaments

The Paralyzed Veterans Association (PVA) sponsors an annual, nationwide PVA Bass Fishing Tour. A fun and competitive event, the PVA Tour has four tournaments in which a participant can learn new fishing skills or improve old ones. The Team/Open Competition is for those who wish to fish from a boat. It pairs anglers with disabilities with able-bodied boat partners. Those who prefer to stay on dry land may participate in the Bank Competition. Both novice and experienced anglers compete for significant cash and other prizes.

This year's tournament schedule is:

Land of Lincoln
May 21-23, 2004
Rend Lake, Mt. Vernon, IL

Potomac River
June 25-27, 2004
Potomac River, Waldorf, MD

Texas Roundup
September 17-19, 2004
Lake Sam Rayburn, Sam Rayburn, TX

Southeastern
October 8-10, 2004
Clarks Hill Lake, Augusta, GA

For more information regarding the PVA’s tournament, contact Phyllis Dale from the Delaware-Maryland PVA at (800) 786-2039.

In North Carolina, the annual Cape Fear Disabled Sportsman's Fishing Tournament is held at the Kure Beach Fishing Pier in Kure Beach, North Carolina. This year's tournament is scheduled for May 21, 2004. The tournament, which is hosted by the Got Em On Live Bait Club, is free for anglers with disabilities. Participants are provided with rods, tackle, bait, refreshments, food, t-shirts, and prizes. For more information, visit http://got-em-on.com or call the Kure Beach Pier at (910) 458-5524.

If you have any questions regarding adaptive fishing equipment or need help finding specific devices, please contact your local ATRC.
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