G. Sam Piatt
PDT Outdoors Columnist
You can tighten a belt around your waist outside your chest-waders and that will prevent them from filling quickly all the way should you step into water deep enough to top the waders.
That might save your life. Maybe not.
When you suddenly find no bottom beneath your feet, those heavy and bulky waders could take you down.
I woke from a dream – nightmare, really – the other morning in which I had been wading Kinniconick Creek, casting for smallmouth. I suddenly hit a step-off into water that must have been eight or nine feet deep.
My waders quickly filled, from my chest right down to my soles.
I’ve been a good swimmer all my life, but I could not for the life of me
get my head back above the surface. It was a frustrating, frightening experience as I realized I was going to drown. I guess, in dreams like this, we always wake just before we actually die.
With the unusual intermittent amounts of torrential downpours we’ve had so far this summer, and with wade-fishing a popular outdoor activity among anglers during the usually hot and humid days of August, streams can be unpredictable.
Swiftly rising water can cause strong currents that can sweep the angler of his or her feet and send them floundering into a deep pool at the foot of the riffle.
One of the safest things you can do to enjoy wade-fishing is leave the bulky, hot waders at home.
Hayley Lynch, a writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, had a frightening experiences on a Kentucky stream. And she wasn’t even wearing waders. But heavy rains upstream suddenly surged the water level and she found herself neck-deep.
“I was scared,” she said. “I wanted out of that creek, but struggling toward the bank was like swimming in quicksand. After 15 minutes that seemed like an hour, I stepped gratefully up onto the bank.”
She suggested a pair of good wader shoes to help stay on your feet on slippery rock bottoms.
“Old sneakers can work, as long as they still possess some tread. But shoes or boots made specifically for wading do a better job of gripping rocks and keeping anglers from slipping,” she said.
“And a wading staff can also help anglers keep their footing in fast current, as well as allowing them to test the depth of the stream before taking their next step. Collapsible models are available that fold up and clip onto a belt.”
There’s also a manually-inflated life jacket that lies flat against the body. Wearers must pull a cord to inflate it when they need it.
“I can tell you from experience that when you strap it on, you’re going to forget you have it on,” said Sgt. John Anderson, boating education coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
“Stream wading is a great way to beat the heat and catch some fish this summer,” Lynch said. “But keep safety in mind. With the right equipment and information, you’ll keep your feet on the ground and your head above water.”
I saw on the visitation ledger at Reed Funeral Home last week the name of my friend, Carrol Blevins. Like me he had come to offer his condolences to the family of our old mutual friend, Paul Holbrook, who died last week.
And Ron Lemon, who goes to church where I go, had brought me a message from John Dixon up in Gallipolis, where Ron and his wife, Jean Ann, lived before moving to the South Shore area some years ago.
Carrol, John, Paul and I all worked together at the Hooker Chemical plant in South Shore during the 1960s.
Anyway, the message to me from John Dixon via Ron Lemon was: “Ask Sam Piatt if he remembers the snake.”
And indeed I do.
Carrol, John and I were on a September squirrel hunt in the hills on Schultz Creek, about seven miles south of South Shore. John and Carrol, hunting out ahead of me, shot a rattlesnake that was 54 inches long and weighed six pounds, dead. It had 16 rattles on its tail end.
Down in Florida, alligators are coming out on land to chase down people’s pets, and even going for the legs of a few people.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is offering hunters a no-cost, three-hour alligator hunting class in preparation for the state’s upcoming alligator season.
Classes will include information on preparing for an alligator hunt, hunting techniques and safety, harvesting and processing, caring for your alligator hide, and alligator hunting rules and regulations.
The FWC recommends the class for anyone who is curious about alligator hunting or plans to participate in the hunt, but has no experience hunting alligators. The class is not mandatory for licensed hunters.
For more information, visit MyFWC.com/gators and click “Statewide Hunts.”
It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to be kind to others.
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (606) 932-3619 or [email protected]