This fellow got a surprise dunking while wading, in winter no less. Wading safety videos are good, but nothing like seeing the real thing to understand what really happens when you get dunked in waders.
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We are really glad this turned out the way it did. It could have been much worse.
This fellow wound up getting soaked, in ice cold water. If only a short 55 second video clip, but it starts off with every anglers nightmare.
If you fish for steelhead, migratory browns, or other large fish, you know that drop offs lead to holes where fish hang out to rest, before heading further upstream. That’s exactly where you want to find the fish.
You probably want to find them with your casts, not by stepping into the hole. If you’ve ever had an experience like this (my own incident happened on the swift upper Delaware), you know that river channels can drop off very quickly.
What happens next is testimony to this angler keeping his wits about him. It does get frantic, at first, even panicky but not out of control. The angler manages to keep his head above water, and swim across.
Fortunately for him, the river wasn’t wider, deeper or faster, which could have been the difference between life and death. Even in this short clip, you can hear the immediate shortness of breath that comes from getting soaked in icy water.
From the Go-Pro on his chest, we can’t tell if he was wearing a wading belt, but given that he wasn’t dragged under further it’s a good bet he was. You may know this, but the type of jacket you wear, and how snugly it fits can also help keep water from pouring down your waders.
One of the best strategies you can use is to test the ground in front of you with your foot, keeping your weight on your back foot. When you do this before committing to the next step, you can tell if the bottom is sloping or even dropping off steeply.
And of course, using a wading staff is even better – you can poke ahead into the depths of water you can’t see. We’ve even been known to grab a long, sturdy stick to help cross a stream. And by all means, stay still while you’re casting, and walk in between casts, so you can keep your focus on safe wading.
In this case, we can’t tell how the video ends, but it’s concerning that the fellow is by himself, and his cell phone is wet and inoperable. How far from his car we don’t know, but we hope it wasn’t so far that he wound up with a bout of hypothermia.
It doesn’t need to be winter to get hypothermia – spring rainfall, upper elevations, and cooler weather in the back country can all conspire to drain your body heat.
He seems to be by himself, which is a good reminder of how the buddy system is a good safety net as well.
An avid fly fisher for over 40 years, Mark has lived and fly fished WA, MI, CA, PA and NY along with countless trips to other places. He can’t get enough of the water; white water kayaking, rafting, drift boating, and hiking to alpine lakes.