Near Death While Fishing and Lessons Learned


New Member
Two events with lessons learned:

1) In the early 80's, I observed a group of Seattle flyfishermen at Henry's Lake, Idaho embarking from the Staley Springs Lodge dock. 5-6 buddies were well out into the channel, but the last fellow was more methodical. When he finally pushed off in his floattube, he went completely over and was hanging upside down trapped in the tube. No one was near enough to get to him in a reasonable amount of time. Luckily, he wiggled out and down, then up. He was in shallow-enough water to barely get his head above water or he would have been . . ..

Lesson: Be careful when you launch in a float tube!!!

2) Also in the early '80's, I was fishing from the front of a drift boat going down the upper stretches of the Klickitat River, when the oarsman yelled for me to "sit down!". I didn't pay attention because of the beautiful hole coming. He yelled again, but it was too late. We hit the rocks with a "Bang". The only thing that didn't get wet was my toes, hooked on the side of the boat. I lost my entire outfit and pride in a moment.

Lesson: When drift fishing pay attention to the rocks, trees, the rapids and the guide! It could cost you your life!

This story revolves around fishing, but my near death was simply a function of my partners and my own stupidity. Back around the turn of the century, err the 70's actually; I was a ranger for the National Park Service in Colorado. My partner Jack, and I observed the two local misfits getting into a raft on a feeder stream just outside the Park boundaries. They had fishing rods with them. They were upstream of an area that was closed to boat access. The lake portion had been closed for a week to any craft because of dangerous water fluctuations. I had actually made the final legal trip that last week, but that’s another story. Anyway, we went down and warned these two, reminding them that if they ventured into the park they would be ticketed. You have to understand we suspected these guys of every bit of vandalism in the area. They said they were just testing the raft and wanted to fish a big hole that was before the entrance to the park.
We went off to a hillside and with camera and telephoto lens not only got pictures of them crossing into the park, but of their raft tearing on a rock and floating away without them. We went down and fished them out and gave them a much-deserved ticket. As we walked away they said we had no real hard evidence that they had ever rafted into the park, as there was no raft. Well, that's where we got stupid or at least that's where it started. My partner and I decided it would be better if we in fact had their raft. So we went looking down the canyon for it. About a mile down the canyon, climbing the sides like mountain goats we spied their raft. It was of course on the other side of the canyon wall about 50 yards or so away.
I decide, since part of my job in the NPS was as a diver, that I could easily swim across the mild current and get the raft. Then stupidity really raised its ugly head. My partner decided that it would be easier if I had a rope with me so he could then pull the mostly deflated piece of rubber back across. He being a very accomplished mountain climber said I should tie a bowline around my waist and he did the same. Since I had my class A uniform on and didn't want to explain to my boss why it was soaking wet, I stripped down to shorts. Well I dove in and being the strong swimmer I was made easy progress towards our goal. All of a sudden, it started getting harder to swim. I started moving away from my target instead of towards it. The current had caught the rope and was dragging me down river. My partner yelled that I should stop swimming and he would just pull me in. Talk about what being a fish is like. All that accomplished was my weight completely stringing us out about 100 feet. If he'd just let go of the rope, I could easily swim back to the other side. Oh wait, it was tied to him as well and he couldn't let go. So since he had decide to fish with the wrong weight fly rod I was stuck bobbing for apples in 15 feet of water. Only I had stopped bobbing and was taking in more water. I knew at that point I was going to drown. I made a decision that if I was going down for the last time, I would try and relax. As I did I more or less leveled out and Jack was able to guide me around the corner of a cliff where I was able to get out of the current and swim to shore. I had to climb back across the face of the cliff mostly naked to get back. We never did get the raft and they never paid the ticket. Three weeks later on the upper portion of the lake they both fell to their deaths climbing a pinnacle. Had to go fish them out one last time.



Ignored Member
While floating the Sauk river in my pontoon boat I dropped anchor in the middle of the river. Current wasn't particularly fast but when the anchor caught both pontoons pointed immediately skyward and the boat started swinging back and forth. Scared the living crap out me. Lesson: never drop a pontoon boat anchor in moving water.

recycle fish

I first got in to ice fishing back in Iowa, long before I could drive. The summer fishing action had wound down a month earlier, and my friends and I were eagerly anticipating ice thick enough to walk on and drill through. We rode our bikes a couple of miles to a gravel pit where we knew there were some great big crappies.

It was a cold day, the kind of day that you needed gloves on to ride your bike. The lake had a good skim on it, but also had some open water out in the middle.

I was the too-daring scout that walked out on a log to see if the ice was thicker near shore or near the middle, and deduced that it was about the same all the way, not really even an inch yet. I stuck a foot out to test it, it gave a crack, and I promptly slipped off the log.

It was not a very long log, but long enough that the steep edges of the gravel pit had dropped to well-over-my-head depth. Fortunately, I bobbed straight back up the hole that I made when I went through, and threw my arms up on the ice. This caused that ice to break out, and so went the system - bob, break ice, fall, bob, break ice, fall, until I had worked my way in to shore.

My friends were not laughing. They were white in the face with fear. We jumped on our bikes, and I was already getting stiff from the frigid water. Almost immediately my clothes froze, and I think I have never spent a longer two miles on a bike. My folks weren't home when I got there, for which I was grateful. I stripped and jumped into their warm waterbed (this was a while ago), warmed up, and then got in the shower. Looking back, I can't believe I didn't get hypothermia, although I know I was frostbitten.

It didn't deter me from ice fishing, but it did influence me to make much wiser decisions in the future. And it reinforced my standing notion that God has a use for me here, because I was certainly spared that day.

Reduce, reuse, works for fish, too! Practice catch and release

Big Ben

Trees aren't bridges.

When I was 12 a friend of mine inched out on a windfall to fish a pool in Crescent Creek. He slipped and fell in after bouncing his groin off the log. When I fished him out his pants were torn and he was bleeding profously from a gash inside his thigh. 35 stitches solved the problem but the the Doc said had he severed his femural artery it would have been fatal given our location. This guy also managed to break both his wrists (dunking a basketball and tangling in the net) and his sister also hit him with a snowmobile. Good example for me. Last summer I watched a father try to teach his kid to fly cast with a wooley bugger. The kid immediately imbedded the fly in his own eyelid. Where were the glasses Dad?:professor
Near Death on the Smith River...

Dropped my beloved flyrod and reel into the river while scurrying over the banks of the Smith...but in the crystal clear waters of April, I could see it lodged in the rocks...five to six feet below!

Having taken my share of tumbles into cold rivers, I built a fire on the bank. I waited for the fire to get good and hot. Then...

I took off my waders. Stripped down naked. Dove in the river and swam for my rod....but missed! Damn...I had to do it again.

Butt-naked up the rocks I try another dive. So, as I am standing there shivering on the bank waiting to dive (for the second time!), I knew I didn't want to dive a third time! The position of my dive was critical. I had to dive in the hole ahead of my rod. I needed to swim down far enough to grab the rod without the current pushing me past it. Splash...and this time I made the grab!

Rod in hand and butt-naked, I shiver up the rocks the safety of my fire.

As I stood there naked by the fire in the redwoods, I laughed. I got warm and dry and then got dressed. Put my waders back on. And went fishing.
All I can say to the above posts is "WOW!" Scares me just to read them. That English story got to me in particular because of all the yarns I've read about trouble in the mud and rocks associated with the English Channel. Scary place indeed. It's a small wonder how any of us could still be alive in this most dangerous sport of ours. We must focus on the dangers and choose the safest path for the sake of ourselves and our loved ones for whom our death would be devastating.
My own story frightens me every time I think about it: two dumb kids who nearly died on a day that was supposed to be fun playing hooky.
Setting: South Park, Colorado, Antero Reservoir.
Time: Evening and getting dark quick. About 1955.
Objective: To use a truck inner tube with a home made saddle to float out passed the weed beds ( full of shrimp and other goodies to make all trout, mostly browns, fatter than the before girl in a Weight Watchers ad) and then to reach open water and lace into the fish, legendary in size, often more than 10 pounds.
Some info: Antero is a huge, mostly shallow reservoir, full of weeds and almost impossible to fish. No boats are allowed, but we decided that truck tubes didn't really count as a boat and we could probably lie our way out of any trouble that might ensue.
Characters: One sixteen year old fish crazy kid who didn't think a lot about the consequences of much of anything. This was your obedient servant. And my buddy, Files, another dumb kid.
Story: So the two of us build these precursors of modern float tubes and we figure that we are all dialed in now and the fishing will be just phat! We head out with cheap waders and up to our arm pits in freezing water. We have no fins. Too expensive.
No one has a clue as to where we are since we both cut school and sort of snuck out of town. We can't wait to get past the weeds and in to open water where we can toss our spoons or flies: I can't remember which.
Action: Then, out of nowhere, comes this howling wind, maybe forty to sixty knots, down from the mountain peaks (many over 14,000 ft.), to rush across the plateau where we were and then on to fill in the heat low of the Colorado Springs area.
Panic city: the wind is pushing us away from the bank and toward open water. Our waders were cheap and thin and we were already cold. Antero is about five or so miles across and we would surely have died in the crossing. Even if we could have survived the freezing water and the long drift to the other side, we would still be miles from anywhere. The other side was just nowhere.
We kicked and paddled with our hands (no oars, too expensive) back to shore but we made little progress and darkness surrounded us both. We never cried or even panicked but just set our minds to the task. We made it of course.
When we hit the beach, we both fell down and vomited for some time and then we were shivering violently.
Lesson: I don't know as if there is any. Boys will be boys. I suppose, as parents, we must keep a tight eye on the little busturds because they are dangerous as hell. Some make it and some don't. All I know is that this little boy of 16 saw the Eternal Footman hold his coat and beckon him forward and the boy was sorely afraid.
Scary stuff indeed. My incident really doesn't compare to most of these harrowing tales, but it was a close call nonetheless.

It was a gorgeous mid-October Sunday and I was wade fishing the Yakima at the Ringer Road access. Hop-scotching across the small islands below the launch and nymphing all of the runs on the way, I made it to the big island by late afternoon. I started half-way down the island and fished the back channel upstream, catching enough trout to keep me casting until the last bit of daylight had all but dissipated. Only after breaking down my rod and climbing onto the island did I realize that I couldn't see 2 feet in front of my face. So in utter darkness, I stumbled across the island's thick underbrush until I tripped over a log, violently pitching my body down and across head first. During the fall I must have opened my mouth in surprise, because as I lay resting face down, my body fully extended, I felt a sharp branch poking the back of my throat. The branch turned out to be several feet long, pretty solid and when combined with the trip wire (log), a potent natural booby-trap. If that branch had been any closer to the log, I would have been fatally impaled (or at least severely injured). Quickly jumping up, I dusted off my gear and crossed the river to the car, all the while being thankful that none of my buddies were there to witness me laying in that very compromising position...I never would have lived that one down. To make matters worse, I got home to the westside of the mountains only to realize that I had lost a couple hundred flies and a brand new pair of Polarized sunglasses in the fall. So on Monday morning, I drove the 2 hrs back to Ringer, put on my waders and searched the island for the lost goods. Although I could not locate the glasses, I found all of the flies and managed to make it to work in Kirkland by 9:30.

Don't bushwack at night without a head lamp.
Keep your mouth closed if you fall.
Don't be an idiot.

>Saltwater crocs are usually not found in the
>freshwater, and if you find a river that is totally
>fresh and isn't subject to tidal flow, the only thing
>you have to worry about is freshwater crocs, which only
>reach about 9 feet long, but won't eat you.

Mate , sounds like you had fun down home. Cairns is a great place to visit. Yep certainly we have our share of nasties but most of us Aussies make it through puberty by using common sense.:beathead and of course drinking beer:beer2
would just like to warn you and others however that even the fresh water reaches in the tropics are not "Salty" proof. Couple of things can occur. Some of the mean types that get kicked out of the lower estuaries by dominant males}( can find their way to those upper reaches and billabongs. Floods can have the same effects, although crocs will travel across country to get new homes;)
Hey but if you fish with a mate and you've got the right equipment. Its possible to wade. When your buddy gets taken just shoot him to put him out of his misery
its :thumb