This is less of a "fishing" report and much more of a "life experience" report.
So on Thursday, September 13th, I wake up in my girlfriends apartment in Seattle and carry out my plan of fishing the upper Skagit/Cascade rivers for Coho on my new switch rod. Everyone was talking about the crazy storm approaching that day, but I had been planning this fishing day for a week, and I was damned if the wind/rain was going to stop me. My girlfriend even begged me not to go as she "had a bad feeling about it". I make the long drive up the Skagit River regardless, hoping to get into the water before the storm arrives.
I recently just purchased my first ever pair of waders. I have never had the luxury of being able to stand in deep cold water for extended periods, and I was looking forward to my first time doing so (you can probably see where this is going...).
I park at the confluence where the Skagit River meets the Cascade River. It was truly beautiful area. By that time, though, the rains had started and there was no one else around. The river was basically blown out.
I hike down to the river, and for whatever reason, I feel that it's imperative that I cross the river to the other side, as I would have much better access to the hole I wanted to fish. I was able to do so, but was quite shaken up as I made it to the bank on the other side, as the current was extremely strong. The depth never really went higher than my upper waist (I'm 6'5''), but still I had lots of trouble. It probably took me 20 minutes to cross a 25 foot-wide river.
And so there I stood, fishing in the pouring rain/wind for the next four hours. I caught nothing, naturally. There was zero visibility and the water just kept getting higher and higher. All things considered, though, I did appreciate the solitude and casting practice.
Right before sundown, I realized that I had to get back to my car. That's when things went very badly very quickly. It was pouring, absolutely pouring, and the winds were starting to get crazy. I waded about halfway across the "shallow" part of the river. I was shocked at how high the river had gotten in a matter of hours. The current was literally pulling my feet straight off the rocks on the bottom. I had no service on my cell phone. There was no around. I was basically screwed (and it's entirely my own fault I admit).
To make a long story short, I spend about 30 minutes getting about halfway across the river, which I was able to do with some success. With every step I maybe made 2 inches of actual progress. But about 15 feet from my target, it was obvious that the water depth dropped significantly. Knowing this, I took one step, and bam, I was gone. I shot about 30 feet down river and promptly ditched my backpack/tacklebox/etc which are still gone to this day. I was very quickly approaching the confluence of where the Cascade meets the gigantic, rushing Skagit. And so I literally gave up on trying to catch bottom with my feet, and I got horizontal and started swimming. My waders and coat filled up with water and I feel myself being pulled under.
It's kind of hard to explain the feelings I had during this time. It went from "Oh shit" to "Oh God" until I honestly thought to myself "Well, Pete, this is where you die".
I kept swimming towards the bank but I couldn't make any progress at all. Right when I hit the confluence, I drift straight into a boulder, which was literally the only thing between me and the Skagit river (perhaps some of you have actually been to the confluence and know the rock I'm talking about). I frantically climb on top of it and take off my waders and all my clothes (meaning, I was standing on rock in the Skagit river in nothing but my boxer shorts). I hurl my waders and clothes to the bank, and I make a jump for it. I land close to shore, grab on to a bunch of thorns and sticks and struggle to basically pull myself up, my body all muddy and cut up from thorns and branches and rocks.
I finally reach solid ground. I laid there on the side of the river, in my boxers, and broke down and wept for 5 minutes straight thinking of my family.
This^ may have all sounded very melodramatic, but I can honestly say without any doubt that, if that boulder didn't happen to be there, I would 100% be dead. I was already planning out what I'd do if I got into the Skagit (don't fight, lay on my back, try to stay afloat, and pray to God I hit something).
Suffice to say, I have a newfound respect for water now.
Anyways, I just thought I'd share this story as a reminder for those are are starting to get too cocky with their river wading.