I am starting a blog here about some of the many hunting and fishing misadventures I have experienced over the years that have led to me warning my friends when I plan to leave the house These incidents and disasters result from anything and everything, including bad judgment on my part, miscalculation, equipment failures, inadeguate preparation, forgetting gear. etc. The list can go on and on. Unlike the sportsman shows you see on TV, most of my outdoors activities end in failure and/or disaster.
My first entry is about an incident just last Thursday. I was fishing the beautiful Little North Fork of the Coer D'Alene River in Northern Idaho. I was trying to get to a spot on the other side of the river and I was using a staff, but still managed to slip in. The current was strong and immediately swept me into a deep pool with a strong eddy and rapidly filled up my waders. I got on my back and I was yelling for help, but nobody was in shouting distance. Either that or they thought, "another typical dumba$$." I kept swirling around in the eddy in the middle of this deep pool, nowhere near shore - I was panicking. That's when I yelled out "I'm gonna die!" This acted like a call to action for me. I calmed myself as best I could and got on my side. I almost let go of my rods, but I felt some way that this would be giving up. Plus, now that I was in the side stroke position, I could still hold the rods and swim. Since my waders were full, this was some of the hardest swimming I have ever done. I did finally make it to shore and laid exhausted still half in the water yelling "holy F@#$" over and over, until I was able to gather myself together.
When I got back to my truck and finally was able to start peeling off my waders, I emptied at least 4 gallons of water from them. Looking back, I was very fortunate to have previously had some swiftwater rescue training. Without it, I believe I wouldn't have made it. This isn't the first time I've fallen in the water and I don't believe it will be the last, due to my inherent clumsiness. The other unexpected swims are stories for another time. Of all my outdoors misadventures, there were several times when I thought " I could die," but this is the first time I was convinced I was going to die. Big difference, trust me!
Oh and to answer the callous, but funny question: "yeah, but did you catch any fish?" I can say that I hadn't to that point. It took me about an hour and half from the ordeal to get my self squared away mentally and physically. I was fortunate to have some extra clothes and it was a warm day. I did go back to fishing, but needless to say, I fished from shore. Eventually, I saw a rising fish and casted to it. I brought in a colorful 9 inch native cutthroat. The fishing was pretty slow for top water action, so that's all I got. For those of you that want to learn more about this river, here is an article.
LESSONS LEARNED: Before you say it, Yes, I am a dumba$$, but that is unlikely to change anytime soon. 1. Keep that wader belt tight!! I don't think it would have prevented my waders from filling up to have my belt tighter, but it could have slowed it down enough to give me more time. I did find that when the waders were full, they were neutral in buoyancy, meaning they weren't pulling me down, but they weren't helping me float either. The biggest problem was dragging all of that extra water weight when trying to swim to shore. 2. Wet wade if weather permits. 3. Don't underestimate any water. 4. Extra clothes. 5. Keep fighting!