It’s Ok to Ask for Help on the Water

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Wading across swift high water safely is best done with a partner. Photo: Louis Cahill

A lot of fly fisherman of both sexes get a little hesitant when it comes to holding hands or locking arms with people that aren’t kin.

If you don’t suffer from Haphephobia, then don’t act like it when you’re wading in and around trout water that’s challenging to navigate, in remote areas off the beaten path or during cold weather. Making the mistake of trying to do everything on your own when you know darn well you need assistance can turn out to be a very dumb decision and put you in harms way. One that can quickly ruin a days fishing or even an entire trip. It’s very important to always be willing to accept a helping hand when the outdoors puts safety at risk. The majority of us enjoy fly fishing with company, and when we’re fortunate enough to have it, we should always stick together and be ready to help one another out when the need arises.

Last year steelhead fishing in the Northeast during single digit temperatures, I found out first hand how important it can be to wade high water with a partner. Wading across the deep fast river, the current lifted my feet off the bottom unexpectedly, and I quickly plunged into the 32 degree water. My buddy Murphy Kane following right behind me, saved the day when he immediately grabbed my chest pack like a ninja and lifting me up. He did it so quick in fact, I some how managed to walk away without any water making it down into my waders. I had my Simms ProDry Gore-Tex Jacket zipped all the way up, velcro cuffs strapped down tight around my wrists and my wading belt cinched tight around the outside of my jacket and waders. These precautions were meant to keep me extra warm in the freezing temperatures but ironically, they also ended up providing me with a surprisingly water tight seal. Not indefinitely of course, but water tight enough to handle a quick dunking without causing catastrophic failure and soaking me to the bone. Just minutes later, I was able to return the favor when Murphy lost his balance and almost went down himself. If either of us would have tried to be tough guys and wade on our own, both of us would have been making a trip back to the truck and lodging to completely change out our gear. Think about this next time you’re out and find yourself in a similar situation. Be safe and accept the help of your fellow comrade when you need it. Sticking close to one another will also be helpful for netting each others fish and strategizing on the water.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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6 thoughts on “It’s Ok to Ask for Help on the Water

  1. I had this same experience just a few months ago fishing with my mother. She was fishing next to a really deep hole with fast current. She was about waist deep and there was a drop off. She went to turn around and the current pulled her towards the deep hole. She fell backwards and at first started laughing. It was pretty funny until the current held her in the deep run and she couldn’t move right on her own. She was kind of sitting in the water with just her head and feet near the surface. What made it get more sketchy is she started sinking. I moved in and grabbed her arm trying not to get sucked in the current myself. I got her out ok. She wasn’t very wet as well. It does seem if you have multiple layers on, chest waders and a good jacket it takes awhile for the waders to fille up with water. She just had a little water in the waders but nothing lower than her thigh. I was glad I was there. I’m not sure what she would have done if she sank and went under.

  2. I can tell you that being a 140 pound guy this is a life saver. Two guys crossing the river in tandem is much safer than single. Not only to keep you dry but safe. A cold water dump could be life threatening. You owe it to your friends and family to stay safe.
    Too many guys are afraid of looking stupid so they dont ask for help and in turn often look more stupid because they fall in the river or other potential threatening items occur.
    Had a friend who was too macho to wear a harness fall from a treestand and ended up in the hospital with serious injuries.

  3. I am of small stature and on the other side of being considered youthful, but am still adventurous and always looking for good water so when I am out fishing my fishing pals, all much larger than I and half my age, help me through the high and rough water, I greatly appreciate it and always let them know, for without them I surely would go down and miss some awesome fishing opportunities.

  4. Now in my late sixties, and still often fish alone, I have made myself an unbreakable rule – if the water even looks too deep (over mid-thigh), or too fast, it almost certainly is, so I don’t even try to wade it alone.
    I have no problem asking for help if someone is around, and have never had anything but willing assistance. Indeed the older I get the less I have to ask for assistance, it is usually offered – and gratefully accepted.

  5. Yup. No sense in killing yourself because you’re too damn prideful to ask for some help. Besides, holding your buddy’s hand isn’t that bad….

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