Fishing ranks #1 for eye injuries

If you needed one more reason to keep your sunglasses, clear shooting glasses or other eye covering snugged on while fishing, heed the story of Ralph Squire. The Alabama college student was pulling on a tree-snagged lure which snapped free, catapulted into his face knocking him down. Friends rushing to help saw one of the trebles from the bait buried in Squire’s right eyeball. They freaked.

Ralph_squireBut not beyond being able to get the young angler to a local hospital where he was lifted by chopper to UAB Callahan Eye Foundation in Birmingham. Three surgeries later Squire sees movement, light, color from the injured eye. “Like looking through an empty Gatorade bottle,” he says. An eventual lens replacement should improve the vision according to doctors.

Squire’s ordeal adds to statistics showing fishing accidents as the number one cause of eye injuries in the US, now surpassing basketball, the former leading sports offender. That’s according the US Eye Injury Registry kept at the Birmingham-based Helen Keller Foundation that tracks eye injuries across the nation.

And its not just hooks that are to blame. In fact 44% of angling–related eye injuries result from blows from sinkers that can rupture eyeballs causing blindness. A friend of mine was a little luckier. His sinker hit caused a detached retina which is said to be treatable.

Aside from yanking on snagged lures and terminal rigs, one of the leading causes of such injuries comes from angler’s not being aware of their backcasts. How many times have you needed to duck or watched as a partner’s rod tip or worse, lure whizzed past your face? Moral of story: wear glasses, where a hat, let the other guy in the boat know in uncertain terms that he/she’s nearly clipped you.

Got a tip, hot story idea, cool photo or just want to know which lure to use? Email Jerry at!