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How to kill yourself while wading alone. FACT !!


cyclops2

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   I decide to wade out to the center of a about a 20 foot wide.....  smooth ....part of a fly fishing only. Rocky gorged creek.  I have fished it many times at this same spot. From the bank. Sept down carefully on the large rocks that are about 3 ' in size. No dirt or small stones. I am carefully stepping from boulder to boulder facing the current. water is at belly button high. I reach the center and feel with my feet for a solid footing before turning around to face down stream. 

 

I am suddenly submerged by water flowing over my completely bent backwards body. I tense up to get mu body up to get air. Not possible. I am drowning in 3 feet of water. ALONE !!!!!!!!!  I realize  I am still holding my fly rod !!  I carefully slide the reel end down to a solid spot Continue to push my body up. My face is FREE. I stay there to refill my lungs for a final effort to free my legs. I am pulling and twisting the tightly jammed foot. It comes loose. I pull the other leg free. I collapse and float60 feet to the pool below the narrow spot I was in..

 

I am fishing the large rocky Delaware River With Kenny. He is about 100' above me upstream. I hear and sense something. I see Kenny coming towards me screaming and pointing up stream at something in the water. I see a reflection off of a submerged huge fuel tank coming right at me. I fast step on the rocky bottom to get out of the way. 2 seconds the giant starts to pass where I stood.

 

Death waits for the wader.

I NEVER wade in moving water anymore. Or wade into ANY still water fishing without my huge life jacket on.

I have taken forever to pull free of firm bottom. Did not realize I was sinking slowly into muck.  

 

I turned 84.  Only because I have been very lucky.  I hope some of you can use my near misses /  deaths to save yours.

 

Rich

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Glad you are still with us. I had two friends that were good swimmers attempt to drown on me in slow moving rivers. If they'd been soloing it they'd be gone.

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Was in Altmar NY, wading the Salmon River in January, fishing for Steelhead. Air temp was 28F, water temp was 33F. I had  been fishing for about 3 hours, and was pretty cold.  I waded out about 20 feet from shore, in about 5 feet of water....I was on a rock so I was about waist deep as I stood there.  My legs started feeling really cold, so I decided to get out of the water and go warm up.  When I got back to shore, I realized I had a couple of problems.   1) My waders were full of water up to my crotch.  2) My legs were so cold I could barely move them. 3) I had to step up about 2 feet to get up on shore...which with waders full of water, and legs that were "dead", I could not. 4) There was no one else anywhere near me.  I tried walking downstream to find a better exit point, but found I could not go far as my legs were giving out completely.  I found an area where the bank was more sloped. I tried climbing up the slope, but could not make it.  I was beginning to panic a bit, and I was so cold I could not even shiver anymore...a sure sign I was getting close to hypothermia.  After several attempts to get out of the water, I was close to exhaustion.  I decided drastic measures were needed.  I sprawled backwards on the sloped shore, and managed to get my chest waders off (that took some doing since my lower body was still in the water, and my coordination was very compromised at this point). Once relieved of the weight of the water filled waders, I could crawl up the bank out of the water. I reached back and grabbed the waders and dragged them out behind me. I had already tossed my rod  and mini tackle box up on shore. I left everything right there, and slowly staggered the 1/2 mile or so back to where I had parked my truck. It took me about 5 minutes or so just to unlock truck (my whole body was close to shutting down). I dragged myself into the truck and managed to get the truck started.  I turned the heat on low as the truck warmed up, and very carefully warmed myself up, and rested for an hour or so.  Then I could move some, so I got my duffle bag out of the back, and got a set of dry clothes and my extra jacket out, and put them and my boots on.  I rested some more, and then walked back and got my waders and tackle, and walked back to my truck and headed back to the fishing lodge where I was staying.  After a long shower and redressing, I checked out my waders.  It seems that I had torn a hole in them near the,,,,uh.... buttocks, and that is why they took on water.  It happened slowly enough that I just thought I was getting chilled, and had no clue at that point that I was in serious trouble. I ended up with some frostbite, but was lucky that the damage was not much worse.  I very easily could have been unable to get out of the water, and could have died of exposure right there. After that I no longer waded alone in cold weather, and made it a point to get out of the water often, and warm up.  I seldom even waded alone in warm weather after that, and I always wore a life jacket (SOSpenders) when I did.  For the past few years I have been pretty much unable to do any wading, as I had lung cancer and had part of a lung removed. My breathing is somewhat compromised,  so I don't risk wading.

  Goes to show that a couple of poor decisions can get you in serios trouble. I should not have been wading alone under those conditions. I should have gotten out and warmed up much more often. I should have paid attention to the fact I was getting very cold much faster that I should have been, I should have realized that although it was not difficult to get into the water where I was, it was going to be very difficult to get out of the water there....and there was no place close by that was easier access.  I was stupid, and  very lucky things did not end up much worse. 

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Hi Kirt.

I fished the bridge just before the hatchery 1 year in February. Super cold day at the lodge. I took 1 step off the last stair onto the snow. Sounded like I was breaking glass with my boot. Ice build up along the shore. So I went under the bridge on river bed of pebbles, I see some trout right against the concrete of the bridge. I cast above them. Nothing stirs. I get the fly right into the group. snag 1 accidently. I slowly pull him to me & release him. He VERY slowly  MOVES back to the group.  I go to the bar / restaurant to warm up very cold 5 mm Neoprene covered legs. Painful started to occur.  In the bar are the road crews & some state police . They all stop talking & look at me shivering. Ask if I caught any.  No  But a guy is snagging them & filling his tru7nk up with them. All the stateies & 1/2 the road crew go down to the guy. & check his big car. 35 Steelheads at $ 135 each & court costs.  I spent 3 days in the bar talking with the locals.  The guy was from out of the area.   Really nice people up there

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Many years ago I was between college and a real job, and was staying at my sister's place in Vermont.  I was just getting back into fishing using spinning gear and had seen folks wading in the local river.  Being short on cash I picked up a cheap pair of stocking foot waders at a flea market.  I went down to the river, put on the waders over the sneakers I was wearing.  No one had told me I needed boots.  I waded out and after about 30 feet.  I slipped and found myself floating feet first with my butt bouncing off rocks downstream in the spring run-off, my sneakers sticking out of the legs of the waders.  I was lucky the current pushed me toward a gravel bar and I was able to stop my ride toward a deep pool, and crawl out. With my fishing rod, but no nightcrawlers.   There was a bridge about 50 yards downstream from me.  I climbed up the bank crossed the bridge to the other side and walked back to my car.  Dripping water all the way.

 That didn't stop me from wading streams. I brought boot foot waders and converted an old ski pole into a wading stick. Once I got into fly fishing, and had a real job, brought myself, good stocking foot waders and boots to go with them.  Kept the ski pole for the wading stick.

  These days after three knee replacements and one hip replacement, my sense of balance isn't what it use to be.  I don't wade streams any more.  I will wade along the shores of some lakes but that's it.

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there is literally 1 spot that i will wade, and only in late spring thru summer.  i don't wear waders.  whatever boots i wear to work (construction)  the previous pair are  my fishin shoes.  after that, whatever pants i'm wearing that day.  i only wade a 30 section to walk from a waterfall to an island.   you guys can laugh all you want to, but there are 2 reasons i don't wade:

 

12920410_1145670738817710_72273174564837

 

BullShark.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

 

i know the chances are super slim,  but i don't care. the shark attacks that inspired jaws happened 16 miles inland, in new jersey.  bullsharks have been found almost everywhere.  they've been found in illinois, minesota, and wisconsin in the mississippi and also in the st lawrence.  we've had whales come up the bay into the delaware, and then into the christiana as far as wilmington.  i actually got to see one once. nah, i'm on the nope train when it comes to wading. 

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I love wading, nothing beats being in a river in the middle of Summer, but I stick to smaller, slow moving rivers that are not too deep and at low summertime flows.  

 

As a kid I probably cheated death more than a handful of times wading the Susquehanna below Conowingo dam, and getting swept down river because they opened the turbines and I couldn't see the flashing red light.

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Hi John  ?

 

Upstate N  Y has plenty of those " Swept away & presumed drowned. " Power company dams. They get a few guys every year.  They would raise the river about a foot for several minutes. Then you committed suicide.

The fall salmon run was a killer time. Of people not aware of the water change. 

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16 minutes ago, cyclops2 said:

Hi John  ?

 

Upstate N  Y has plenty of those " Swept away & presumed drowned. " Power company dams. They get a few guys every year.  They would raise the river about a foot for several minutes. Then you committed suicide.

The fall salmon run was a killer time. Of people not aware of the water change. 

Yup... Leto island is an area that is famous for that. Every year some one... Often several "someones" drown there because they did not hear the siren or see the flashing lights on the dam, or were sure they could fish "for just a few minutes more".  NO...when the siren goes off, you have about 5 minutes total to get out of the water and up the bank. When they open the gates, the water can rise between 5 and 12 feet very quickly. If you are still in the water, you are either going to drown, or at the very best, be swept downstream and into the lake...if you get that far without being battered to death on the rocks. As the movie said....Stupid is a stupid does.

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This is exactly why you where a wading belt. I’m 14 and nearly drowned over the summer in the Provo. Scariest experience I have ever had. 

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17 minutes ago, Greyson said:

This is exactly why you where a wading belt. I’m 14 and nearly drowned over the summer in the Provo. Scariest experience I have ever had. 

Not sure I understand what you are saying....a wading belt will not help you if you are swept off your feet by fast current.  Wading belts are great for keeping water from going over the top of your waders and filling them up. You will stay dryer, but a belt makes no difference if you are knocked off your feet. If you should be able to regain your feet (not likely in that kind of current), it will be easier for you to get up on shore, but while in the water it does not matter if your waders are full of water or not, as the water in your waders is neutrally buoyant while you are in the water. It is only when you try to get out on shore that the water weight becomes a problem.

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I haven’t waded much in streams or small rivers, but waded the st Johns many times. As long as you dont put fish on a stringer , you’ll be ok. I went alone a lot , Which I wouldn’t do now…

 

More people drown here surf fishing. I nearly did  when I was a teen. The fish weren’t biting , so I waded out to neck deep water to cast. Got swept off my feet by a sudden undertow, and suddenly was fighting for my life. I had never heard of relaxing  and going with it until you were out of it. I swam against it , with one hand still clutching my rod. I did go somewhat sideways, which got me to the edge of it and I escaped. I went and sat on the beach for awhile and pondered how close it was…

One guy nearly drowned when he got stuck in a coastal  mud flat and the tide came in . He just had his nose out of the water when someone saw him and rescued him at the last minute… 

 

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I really have panicked in stuck mud. I finally sat down in the water. Leaned backwards. Pulled 1 foot out. Then the other.  I have had enough close call in waders. I now only wear old pair of shoes with laces left very loose. And the huge life jacket.

I also carry the cell phone in a zip lock waterproof bag in the top right pocket. Ican always reach that if needed.  I only fish where there is good cell tower use.

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I’ve done a whole lot of wading, even for a living as a trout guide, and never been in a bad situation. You can have all kind of things that you think might save you, I prefer to use my brain and stay out of these scenarios 

 

we wade/swim some backwaters with no cell service whatsoever so you don’t go alone in case of broken legs or something 

 

wading in winter is a lot like ladders or roofs, slipping and falling is not an option 

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Do a lot of wading myself. Before I really knew what I was doing I got swept off my feet a couple times. Subsequently found the USGS water data site which gives stream current flow and height data. You can use that to gauge whether or not you should even be in the water or how far in the water you should be.

 

Other lessons learned, don't try to walk thru the inside bend of a stream. That's where the silt and muck settles and you may sink a foot plus.....if you wade in late winter/early spring watch out for floating ice shelfs. I had one kiss my leg as I was scrambling out of it's way. Also large patches of floating weeds that have broken away from the bottom can knock you down. 

 

Like TnRiver46 said, use your head and try not to put yourself in a bad position. Altho that kinds goes for everything....

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When I was doing a lot of wading for smallmouth on the Shenandoah, I always took precautions.  #1 Know your water. I memorized a 3 mile stretch of river where I knew every ledge, channel, drop and pool.  I would stick to that water when I was out in winter or if the river was raging with high flow.  #2 Have the right gear.  I wore neoprene stocking foot waders and had felt bottomed boots.  The waders were buoyant and would actually help in keeping me afloat if I got swept.  They kept me somewhat warm in the winter even with ice chunks bouncing off me.  #3 And maybe the most important…..never panic.  I’ve been swept many times for different reasons and I never panicked even when it took me a 1/2 mile of floating before I could get a foothold and out of the river.  I had a close friend come with me in summer and he pulled out solid rubber waders with built in heavy rubber boots, the kind you would wear on a crabbing boat and I told him in very stern terms to stay no deeper than his waist.  Long story short, he got swept, those waders filled with water and he nearly drowned before I could get to him.  

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On 12/5/2021 at 3:39 PM, cheezyridr said:

there is literally 1 spot that i will wade, and only in late spring thru summer.  i don't wear waders.  whatever boots i wear to work (construction)  the previous pair are  my fishin shoes.  after that, whatever pants i'm wearing that day.  i only wade a 30 section to walk from a waterfall to an island.   you guys can laugh all you want to, but there are 2 reasons i don't wade:

 

12920410_1145670738817710_72273174564837

 

 

Where I grew up we heard a rumor a hunter died crossing a shallow pond when a snapper got his achilles. 

Always sounded like a horrible way to go

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Snappers ? Big ones ?  Linden, N J creek that ran under the 4 track Pennsylvania main R R lines. Watched a massive 3 to 4 footer crawling over the shallows. Hair stood up all over me. Us kids waded  up & down that same stretch all the time. I stayed out of walking thru those road tunnels after seeing that big one on the move. 

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22 hours ago, Kirt Howe said:

Not sure I understand what you are saying....a wading belt will not help you if you are swept off your feet by fast current.  Wading belts are great for keeping water from going over the top of your waders and filling them up. You will stay dryer, but a belt makes no difference if you are knocked off your feet. If you should be able to regain your feet (not likely in that kind of current), it will be easier for you to get up on shore, but while in the water it does not matter if your waders are full of water or not, as the water in your waders is neutrally buoyant while you are in the water. It is only when you try to get out on shore that the water weight becomes 

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Wading belts MIGHT not do anything  to prevent  Your feet from filling up with water.  I used 5 MM  foam thick waders. The air in the foam will always be down there . ready to float my legs up to the surface. I actually would bob in a upright  position in deep enough water. I actually slipped & fell off of a high rock. Went completely under. Only a wet ring on the top  inside of the foam waders. Never used a belt.  They were the type that fit almost like a wet suit.  Loose enough that I could roll them off under water with holding my breath if needed.

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Cold and water is nothing to disregard.  I am a very seasoned outdoors person and have spent many nights in sub zero degree temperatures climbing, camping and backpacking.  Water is a different animal.  I never underestimate it and am always prepared for the worst.  I have zero desire to become a statistic.  @cyclops2 I am glad you made it out and it seems as though your preparation and wits paid off.  

As far as the wading belt deal, yes it does help somewhat but not that much really.  I have tested trying to fill up my waders with and without a belt and it is pretty hard to do, especially if you have a jacket on.  Water will push the waders tight against your body and they create some major flotation, even the breathable ones.  If your waders do fill up, usually it happens because of a leak if at all the key is to not panic.  You aren't going to be drug to the bottom but it does make moving outside of the water more difficult.  In cold weather I wouldn't hesitate for a second to cut my waders off if necessary.

I have been getting into more cold water river fishing and I may end up going with a dry suit so I know that I will be safe for whatever conditions I encounter.  

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We have had some very serious conditions OVERCOMED.  If you wade.  Avoid all of the ones we posted.

 

The sneakiest danger to me is sinking into very soft mud.  

 

Very panicked wading situation ? 

 I am walking along a very low wood single track train bridge on a curve .  6' over a tiny creek. OWWWW

I have slipped 1 leg all the way up to my left thigh between 2 ties. I am doing everything to wiggle free. STUCK I take a rest. to calm down. Then realize I am in the boonies. I suddenly panic as I see the very SHINEY rail tracks around me. I am NOT going to be run over by a crushing locomotive OR a unmanned end of a train backing up. 

I was free in less than a minute. Panic is good when needed.    :happy-127:

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