Wading and the big swim


Active Member
I got my first baptism about 65 years ago In the Metolius. Have sat
in most of the watersheds on the Oregon coast. I no longer fish moving
water. Just bought a auto inflation life yesterday because I question my
ability to self rescue. I’m pushing 75, but too stubborn to give up exercising trout.


fish & whistle
WFF Supporter
Well it happened today. I got the biggest scare I've ever had in the water today. It was a winter low water water day so I didn't expect anything to happen. How many years have I brought a change of cloths and towel and not needed them. Well I did today, and it was in a situation in that was no where near challenging, until it became that moment. I was contact nymphing, and fishing from about shin deep about 10' back from the edge drop to a seam I was fishing along the bank, and there was a pool, with a log jam on my side, about 20 yards long about 15' below my position. I hooked a little fish, I can laugh now, and it ran straight for the pool and the log jam. Trying to keep it out I just rotated to my right a little to apply pressure. All of a sudden I could feel all the rocks move under my feet. I hit on my butt and instantly I was in that pool bobbing vertically, and I could not touch bottom. I could feel the water coming in the top of my waders, even though I had secured the top, had the wading belt on, and the waist strap from my chest pack. I do pretty good under pressure usually, and this was no different. In about a second I was going to be at a log sticking 1/2 way into the river directly below me. The log was a few inches under the surface where I was going to hit it, but the log jam end was an out. To the left was the fast current and the way around the log. Because of the way the log was situated I chose it, and in my best "Deadpool" imitation it was maximum effort. To hit the log I kicked to help get my feet up, took a quick stroke with my arm launching the rod toward the log jam as I rolled, then the current had me right on top of the log as I planned and I shimmied out, retrieved my rod, and then released the fish.
I've played in the river all my life. Not even 2 years ago my son, his buddy and I did a full wader full of water day on the river to know what it feels like. I knew that if that log had been at the surface I would have been pinned against it. As it was I could tell by the force that if I had draped my arms over it, I would not get my feet up and I'm not strong enough to pull myself out of that situation. So I would have gone under when I got tired. With a PFD I would have gone the other way. I could never have held that log with a PFD on. In this case as it was, I think if I had gone left, got my feet up and not struggled I would have hit bottom on the downstream end before my waders would have filled. As it was they were full to the knees. As usual, shit happens quick, and when you least expect it.
Beautiful day
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Several fish today, but the big swim for this little dude.
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Good reminder that it can happen just like that in an instant. The river doesn’t discriminate or care how many years you’ve been wading! Glad you’re OK!


WFF Supporter
I've taken a lot of falls and swam for it a few times. There's usually an important decision point when you decide whether to swim or tread/stand. The most dangerous feature I find frequently on a river is an elbow corner with a logjam. Loose gravel builds up abutting the cobble and just off the dropoff. If you step on it, sometimes it's like packed marbles. The other scary feature is newly settled gravel in the crotch of two river braids coming together. It's amazing just how much of a new gravel bar can loosen and dislodge under just the weight of a human. That sound of it going sends chills up my spine because it means you're about to find yourself in the middle of the river.


Active Member
I never expected quicksand to be such a regular feature of my adult life, but soft, water-logged silt and sand gives me the willies. I’ve had issues crossing side channels that go from knee or thigh deep water to knee-deep silt and hip-deep water with almost-stuck feet. Another thing to watch for depending on the river.


Piscatorial predilection
Inevitably, wading will bring about these events . I’ve been there and done that,so will you eventually.


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