When you are on the water, wader safety is crucial. More than two thousand people drown in rivers in North America every year. 60% of the people that die in rivers are swept away and drowned. The other 40% are trapped under logs or undercuts and die. The lack of understanding of your environment, your equipment, your own ability, and poor decision making. 90% of the injuries on rivers happens within 10 feet of the shoreline. And yes, It can happen to YOU.
For many, fishing transcends mere recreation and rises almost to the level of religion. Streams are impressive to behold. They run fast, sometimes over merciless terrain. And even in the heat of summer, the water can remain ice cold.
Choose the correct wader boot for the situation
Stocking foot waders require a separate boot that you lace on the outside of your waders. This setup gives you the best feel of the rocks and river bed and provides maximum dexterity for wading and hiking. The drawback is if you get caught in rocks and mud, it’s more difficult to free yourself and get out of your waders.
Bootfoot waders gives you a better chance to escape from an entrapment as well as provide more warmth than stocking foot waders. The downside is that they make walking a bit more hazardous because they don’t fit quite as well.
Use a wading belt and a wading staff
If you are to fall into the water, these belts are your defense against water filling your waders. If you fall into the water without a wading belt there is a risk that water fills up your waders which will make it almost impossible to swim or get out of the water without help. Some waders comes with two belts which allow you to have one around your waist and then put one on your chest if you are crossing or fishing in high water.
A wading staff can get you out of troubling situations if you get in too deep. If the current is strong you can use it for support and balance. Using these two fairly inexpensive pieces of equipment when you are on the water increases your wader safety dramatically.
Choose a safe wading path
When it comes to safety, good decision making is often key. And this is especially true when wading. If you are going to cross a river, try looking for the slowest moving area which is often the most shallow one. Try to estimate how fast the current is going and how deep the water is before getting in. When you are crossing you always want to use the current to your advantage and move diagonally. Using a cap and polarized glasses will help you see the bottom and make wading easier overall.
When you move over rocks shuffle your feet along. In order to do that, you have to find space in between the rocks. If there is a larger boulder, don’t attempt to step over it and go around it instead. The reason for that is that if you keep your feet close to the bottom you got more stability. Another reason is that the top water is fast and the closer you get to the bottom the slower it gets. You won’t have nearly the torque on your foot but if you raise it up really high, that water will try to sweep it.
One of the dangerous situations that can arise while wading is when you hook a fish. Sometimes they put up a heck of a fight and you will have to move along the river trying to land it. It’s fun to catch fish and the excitement makes it easy to lose sight of your surroundings. So try to keep your head calm and think twice before you take your next step.