Wading and the big swim

MT_Flyfisher

Active Member
You mentioned that you may not have fared so well if you had been wearing a PFD. That reminds me of something else to consider that you don’t normally see mentioned beyond having a good wading staff and a securely fitting wading belt.

That is don’t carry any more items with you than necessary when wading. Every single thing that you take with you adds some weight that will make it harder for you to get out if you accidentally fall in like you did, @MGTom.

A bigger vest, more fly boxes, heavier clothing, and even a bigger rain jacket than necessary will not only add more weight but they also add bulk which will make it harder for you to get back on your feet. They can not only fill with water but they can also trap air which might be a good good thing temporarily from a flotation standpoint, but air and water can both make it harder to get upright.

Anyone who wears a wading belt and falls in like you did, Tom, will have some air trapped in the bottom around your feet for a period of time until you waders completely fill with water. Both make it harder to get back on your feet.

Also, if you wear a rain jacket, or have a waterproof vest, make sure that all of the pockets are completely zipped shut whenever you wade. If you fall in and those were left unzipped they can fill with an enormous amount of water/weight in a very short time and are not easily drained, significantly reducing your odds of getting out safely...Don’t ask how I know.:eek:
 

Driftless Dan

Driftless Dan
WFF Premium
I'm glad you got out with only wet clothes. I fish primarily in the Midwest's Driftless area. This week, temps were in the single digits, and some streams had already frozen over. As I walked in calf-deep snow along the bank, I realized that if I fell in, the cold would very quickly kill me. I usually fish on my own, so there'd be no help. I decided to go home and wait until the weather warms up a bit.

And thanks, MGTom, for the article on wading safety.
 

cdnred

Active Member
Glad to hear you survived this ordeal. The must important thing you did was keep your cool and not panic so that you could think logically how to get out. Once out of the water in winter, we all have to remember to have with us a dry change of clothes to prevent us from getting hypothermia. I think all your training and swimming abilities came into play and to help you survive. It must've been a great feeling to get back with your grandchildren after all that happened and knowing what could've been a bad outcome..
 

MGTom

Living at the place of many waters
WFF Premium
I'm glad you got out with only wet clothes. I fish primarily in the Midwest's Driftless area. This week, temps were in the single digits, and some streams had already frozen over. As I walked in calf-deep snow along the bank, I realized that if I fell in, the cold would very quickly kill me. I usually fish on my own, so there'd be no help. I decided to go home and wait until the weather warms up a bit.

And thanks, MGTom, for the article on wading safety.
That's a good point. We were doing a post flood survey in 97? I think, and my boss fell in. By the end of the 15 minute walk to the truck he was shaking so bad I had to drive him the the ER while merle drove the other rig in.
 

Buzzy

Active Member
Tom -
Glad you're still with us! Scary experience and some very good information shared by you and forum members. Something I never do: have a change of clothes in the truck. Smart!
 

Gary Thompson

dirty dog
Funny you mention swimming. I've swam more laps than I can count, swam across the snake for training and in a race, and can do a 2.4 ironman swim in 58min - 1:07. The thing about swimming that was useful today was the body control and muscle memory to kick, and I threw the rod with a motion just like I used to look in swim, took a stroke left arm knowing I roll right so I'd take it high on the chest and hook the leg, and surfed up onto the log. If I'm full to the waist I can't swim out, but body positioning will keep from going down in practice.
I grew up swimming the Rogue and Applegate rivers, OR and almost drowned a couple times. What saved me each time was not panicking.
 

Freestone

WFF Premium
Wow, Tom, that was a scary situation but it sounds like you handled it well! I am glad you made it home safely! Great quick thinking and I commend you for practicing swimming with waders on as it seems to have paid off.

And, from looking at your pics, at least you have the best fleece wading pants ever made! Years ago, I bought two pairs for my ex-fiancé and was sad that they weren’t made in women’s sizes. I once met the gentleman that designed them and tried to convince him and his boss to reintroduce them - and add women’s sizes, lol.

When I fish above a log jam or any downstream hazard, I first always try to think about what I will do if the worst happens, a habit from years of running whitewater.
 

McFly

McFly
Thanks. We all need a reminder like this. I’ve had several situations where I was too focused on the fishing and getting out in casting range of the far bank that I was not paying attention until it became apparent that I was in a dicey situation (fast current above mid thigh level). 2 years ago on the Yak I saw an older guy go down and he was tumbling in the current completely out of control. Fortunately his fishing buddy was downstream and was able to rescue him. Met up with him later at the parking area, he was on his knees praying.
 

MGTom

Living at the place of many waters
WFF Premium
Also glad you’re here and writing this post Tom....and you C&R’d the fish! Was it a bamboo rod?
No, it was the 10' echo. Saving the rod wasn't my though, but with the fish and line in the water I wasn't sure what would happen if I just let go.
 

wanative

Retired, gone fishin'
Glad you made it out safely.
I always have a set of dry clothes and blanket in my truck when fishing.
 

Porter

Well-Known Member
Wow. There is always that fear or thought in the back of my mind of going under and getting a strap, belt, or suspender wrapped around a branch or obstacle while the current pushes you away making it impossible to free yourself. PFD and an easily accessed knife are critical and even as I type this several times I go out in the water with neither. And that is on me!

I have not taken the underwater plunge so far but have been there with others who did, all good outcomes but a couple fishing adventures cut short.
 

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