I run a nonprofit, ROARoutdoors.org, that gets people with physical disabilities back outdoors for activities such as hunting, fishing, kayaking, swimming, etc. We also do social events such as ball games, bowling, and cookouts. Many of those we serve (including myself) are quadriplegics with limited hand function.
Fishing is an activity I've enjoyed since early childhood. The tranquil peacefulness surrounding water, the "oneness" with rod and reel and the anticipation of catching that monster lurking mere inches from my bait, are all reasons I love to fish. It's the chase and the unknown that keeps me "hooked”. Being a quadriplegic creates difficulty with this hobby. The only rod/reel combos that work for me are long hilt spinning combos or devices that actually hold the rod for you. Over the years, I’ve tried different devices, cuffs and gadgets to make me a more “independent fisherman” and, truth be told, the simpler the better! (K.I.S.S), Keep it Simple Stupid.)
I’ve found some spinning rods that have longer handles that slide under my armpit giving me all the torque and control I need in the “fight”. The reels rest directly on the web of my hand between my thumb and index finger, allowing me great access to the reel and oversized handle. Casting takes practice from this angle, but not being attached to a device allows me freedom to be “hands-on”. As with all activities related to those with spinal cord injuries, it’s all about what each individual is most comfortable with, but for me, the long rod combo is a “catch”.
As for tackle and gear, I found a small collapsible hand-truck that I added Velcro® to the skid plate and the bottom of my tackle box allowing me to carry my own gear.
It’s all about independence and being all-in on adventures. Finding new ways to get out and go brings peace to my sometimes drab world. Enjoying activities that I thought were gone allows me to stay centered in life and to focus on the hope of so much more yet to come. ROAR is in the process of building a two-acre accessible farm pond that will allow those with physical disabilities to get back on the chase and to see what is truly “on the line”... A life that is full and plentiful.
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BMD/BMDA/1117/0567