Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Close Call Wading

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    19

    Default Close Call Wading

    I recently had a very close call while fishing on the Kenai/Middle. I'm writing this so others can learn from my mistakes as well as the things I did right.

    I was in the Dunes early on a submerged gravel bar which runs perpendicular to the main current; it had about a foot of water going over the top. There was one boat in the area fishing a due a couple hundred yards above. I was fishing off the end of the dune targeting fast deep water. Where I started fishing had a blue water bucket (deep) immediately below me, and the area immediately below the dune was blue water. I was focused on fishing and didn't appreciate that I had waded out 15 - 20 feet, and waded downstream. To get out I should have waded directly back up stream, and then gone backwards 15-20 to where I started. Instead, I wasn't thinking and turned around to walk out. That first step was into blue water and I was airborne.

    The enormity of the situation was immediately apparent: cold water, Kenai currents, no gravel bars, by myself, wearing waders and heavy clothes. I was pretty quickly taken downstream. While swimming furiously I was able to get myself downstream of the dune. There is current there but not nearly as much as in the main channel. I was able to backstroke and get myself back to the dune and my boat. Total time in water probably 2 minutes. But who knows - it felt like 2 hours. I probably went close to 150 feet (feet down, feet over to get behind the dune, and 50 feet upstream against the current).

    Key observations and take-aways.

    1. I didn't yell or make any noise until the final seconds. I don't know why, frankly. I consider myself a very good wader - 35 years of aggressive wading, and this was not the first time I had been in a pickle. I did yell in the final seconds before safety. I was probably 15 feet from the dune, but it was unclear whether I would make it. It was an emotional reaction more than anything - realizing after all the progress I had made I might still drown ... within feet of the dune and where my boat was parked (on the upstream side). I yelled and what was probably just a few seconds later my feet were on the ground below the dune. I looked upstream and that party was scrambling to get their boat in the water and come down.

    2. I had on a wading belt and it was cinched tight. After all of that time in the water I only had about an inch of water in the feet of my waders.

    3. You can't count on clear thinking under these circumstances. Unbelievably, I held onto my rod. It was obviously a really stupid decision that I can hardly fathom now. Key point is that in moments of high stress, you can't always count on rational thought.

    4. I did modified backstroke, which was more effective than breastroke, dog paddle, etc. You can get your legs going pretty good and use your arms. I had a raincoat on and it was cinched tight at the wrists and zipped up. That certainly mitigated water coming in the top of the waders.

    5. Even though I was making some bad decisions in the water, I didn't panic. I've been in high stress situations before and kept my wits as a general matter. I'm also in shape, and thank the lucky stars I had the physical capability to fight through the cold and current.

    5. For the future, I will wear my life vest while wading if I have a situation where the risk of a very bad outcome is high, such as blue water and no clear way out of the river if you go airborne.

    6. I will also do a quick analysis of the situation where I'm wading to determine what the strategy should be if I go airborne. I realize your mind doesn't work in the water and you should know ahead of time what to do if you are airborn. It could be that the best strategy is to go with the current rather than fighting against it. It would depend on the location.

    7. Be cognizant of your fishing style. I'm a shuffler. I move even without thinking, always looking to better my position for the sweet spot in the drift. If you're a shuffler you need to be extra careful that you don't shuffle your way into a dangerous situation.

    I hope others read this and reflect on their own practices. Stuff can happen instantly, and I'm lucky to be here to tell the story.

    Safe wading this fall!

  2. #2
    Member ergoman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    164

    Default

    Thanks, had a sketchy situation myself recently, applaud you for sharing.

  3. #3
    Member cod's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Kenai Peninsula, Ak.
    Posts
    2,012

    Default

    Grouse.... Just out of curiosity, what is your age if u don't mind me asking?
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

  4. #4
    Member kenaibow fan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    In a van down by the river
    Posts
    1,992

    Default

    Glad to hear your all right. I too had myself a good dunking this summer in a remote stream. It's funny how the rod makes it back safe and sound.......lol

  5. #5
    Member DRIFTER_016's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Yellowknife, NWT
    Posts
    3,244

    Default

    Been there done that and got the tee shirt!!!
    A wading belt is a very important piece of equipment.
    I have no issues being able to swim in my waders.
    Have had to do it a few times. Been quite a few years since the last dunking though.
    I'm slowing down in my old age.

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    19

    Default

    I'm 48. I run a couple of times a week and do other things to stay in shape. If I wasn't in shape I'm not sure I would have been able to push through the last 20 feet or so where it was agonizing to make any headway against the current.

    A key take-away that I didn't emphasize enough above is the importance of yelling for help right away. I've thought about why I didn't yell, and I think it gets to the core of your personality - are you someone who asks for help? If you're used to getting yourself out of trouble, that is probably your first instinct. That instinct could leave you dead in the water, and I think it's important to have it clear in your own mind what you will do in the first few seconds of a life-threatening situation.

  7. #7
    Member cod's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Kenai Peninsula, Ak.
    Posts
    2,012

    Default

    Thanks for that. Your posts brought back memories of good friend and honorary 'Mayor of the Kenai', Don Skidmore's disastrous dumping he took in his beloved waters. It is speculated he may have had a heart attack or stroke while in the water. At any rate, he floated by a friend of ours and as this friend made a scramble to his boat to save him, Don slid under, not to be found for months.
    So yeah, age matters.
    Thanks for posting your experience!
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

  8. #8
    Member 4merguide's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
    Posts
    8,947

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DRIFTER_016 View Post
    Been there done that and got the tee shirt!!!
    A wading belt is a very important piece of equipment.
    I have no issues being able to swim in my waders.
    Have had to do it a few times. Been quite a few years since the last dunking though.
    I'm slowing down in my old age.
    A few years ago I had to make a quick dash after my boat while it was still close to the launch. After years of wondering about all I've heard I found out the hard way about trying to swim in some heavy LaCross ankle fits. I've always been a very strong swimmer since childhood, and I made it "ok", but I found out right then that it sure was no easy chore... it most definitely surprised me.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  9. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    29

    Default

    Thanks for the warning/story.
    I stepped in a hole and went under last February while wade fishing the middle river and didn't think I would make it. Luckily river was really low and the deep spots were fairly short.
    It scared the **** out of me, and now I definitely wear a life vest if doing any sort of hardcore wading.

  10. #10
    Member Gerberman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Soldotna AK, Eugene, OR
    Posts
    591

    Default

    I never leave home without my life vest, even in the summer sockeye fishing, other people say, "think you are going to drown?" I say "No not with this on it will help me get back to shore" Anyone in my boat must have an inflatable life vest on, or they just will not be fishing with me.

  11. #11

    Default

    I recall a very similar situation in which I couldn't retrace my route upstream due to current and yelled to my fishing companion for help. He heard me but did not respond. A few minutes later after struggling and screaming for help I was swept downstream, submerged, and pulled myself out, cold and soaked in remote alaska. I expressed my displeasure with my companion's lack of responsiveness in no uncertain terms. But without anger. And he then failed to understand or accept the importance of assistance, even as a fishing partner. While fishing alone has increased risk, fishing with someone who won't help isn't any better.

    Sent from my SM-J320P using Tapatalk

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •