Fishing with Diabetes: A Good Learning Experience

Posted by matt on Wed, 06/12/2013 - 17:59 in

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Between work, taking care of my 5-month-old daughter and general everyday life, I have been very busy and haven’t had too much time to ride my bike. While things like taking care of the yard keep me fairly active, I haven’t been getting the same intense physical activity that I am accustomed to. Fortunately, I enjoy being outdoors and have a lot of hobbies that require being physically active and ultimately help me manage my diabetes. I was recently introduced to fly fishing and have had a blast the few times that I have gone.

Fly fishing isn’t your typical, sit on the shore of a lake or cruise around in a boat, drinking beer and waiting for a bite kind of fishing. It is much more active and includes quite a bit of hiking and casting, and that burns calories and lowers blood glucose. All of the activity combined with being out in the fresh air close to nature makes this kind of fishing really appealing to me. So when my brother and his girlfriend extended an invite to go up for a day trip, I was really excited!

Blood Glucose Control Before Activity

I woke up at 4:30 AM with a blood glucose of 120 mg/dL. Not a bad way to start the day! I ate a big bowl of cereal (90 grams of carbs) and took 4.75 units of insulin with my insulin pump (I use a 1 unit of insulin to cover 20 grams of carbs). My brother and his girlfriend arrived shortly after that and we loaded up the truck and headed up to the mountains.

By the time we made it up to the creek, it was 7:00 AM and I tested my blood glucose again to see where I was at. It was 209 mg/dL. This was a little bit higher than I wanted. I knew I still had a little bit of insulin on board from my breakfast, because it takes about three hours for me to get my insulin in and out. With that in mind, I took 0.5 units of insulin (I use a ratio of 1 unit of insulin to bring my blood glucose down 94 mg/dL so this would bring me down roughly 50 mg/dL) and we got our gear together and went down to the creek.

Managing My Blood Glucose While Fishing

I hiked up and down the creek looking for the fish. At first, I didn’t see any so I kept hiking. Once I found a pool with some fish, I began fishing. I tried several different combinations of flies (basically stuff that looks like what the fish typically eat) and finally found what they were biting on. After getting a few bites, I finally brought my first fish in! He was pretty small so I let him go. I took the opportunity to see how my blood glucose was doing as it was now 10:30 AM. I had clearly underestimated my activity, because I was down to 62 mg/dL. I ate a bar with 23 grams of carbs and didn’t take any insulin.

I kept on fishing and was having more success. I landed a couple of keepers and let a couple more fish go. I tested my blood glucose again at noon and was at 131 mg/dL. I probably should have let it be, but I like to maintain really tight control. I took 0.25 units of insulin without eating anything and went back to fishing. We wrapped up at 1:15 PM and my blood glucose was back down to 65 mg/dL. I ate 15 grams of carbs, which picked me right back up.

We headed down the mountain and stopped for lunch on the way back home. It was now 2:00 PM and my blood glucose was 71 mg/dL. I ate 80 grams of carbs and took 3.75 units of insulin. Using my 1:20 ratio means I backed my insulin down by 0.25 units to correct for the borderline low blood glucose reading. I tested my blood glucose again at 5:30 PM. I was at 72 mg/dL and was happy with that. I ate about 10 grams of carbs to ensure I didn’t have another low and went on with my day.

Overall, the trip was a success. I caught a few fish, which made a great meal. More importantly, I learned more about what my blood glucose does during a day of fly fishing. If I had to do it over again, I think I would have used a temporary basal rate to avoid the few mild lows that I experienced while I was running up and down the creek. All in all, it was a fun day and a good diabetes learning experience!

*Insulin dosing and insulin-to-carbohydrate ratios are individualized for each person with diabetes. The values mentioned here are not appropriate for everyone.