I own chest waders and I’ve used them on streams in Kentucky and West Virginia. They’re handy if you should get into water up to your waist and you want to keep dry.
But if you should unexpectedly and suddenly find no bottom beneath your feet, they could take you down.
And you could drown.
You’re fishing a pool at the foot of a rapids, and you keep wading a little farther out in order to plop your lure down in the far edge of the pool.
Then you discover that the bottom slopes away. Water pours over the top of the waders and fills them right down to the soles of your feet.
You may be an excellent swimmer. That won’t help you as the weight of the water, now up to your chin, drags you down. You look longingly at the shore just before your head goes under.
With the intermittent torrential downpours we’ve experienced so far this month, and with wade fishing a popular outdoors sport during this hot and humid August, stream flows can be unpredictable. You can fasten a sturdy belt around your waist just outside the waders to stop the flow of water from filling up the boot part.
You might be just dressed in tennis shoes and shorts when fast rising water can cause you to be swept off your feet in a deep pool at the foot of a rapids.
It happened to Hayley Lynch, a friend of mine who writes for Kentucky Afield magazine.
“I was scared,” she said. “I wanted out of that creek but struggling toward the bank was like swimming in quicksand. After 15 minutes, which seemed more like an hour, I stepped gratefully up onto the bank.”
She suggested a good pair of wader shoes to help stay on your feet on slippery rock bottoms.
“Old sneakers can work as long as they still have some tread on the soles, but shoes or boots made especially for wading do a better job of gripping the rocks.”
She said a wading staff can also keep an angler from slipping in a fast current. And it can provide testing the depth out ahead of you before taking that next step and perhaps finding a step-off. That would be cumbersome, though, if you’re fishing a rod and reel.
However, collapsible models are available which fold up and clip onto a belt.
There’s also a manually-inflated life jacket that lies flat against the body until needed. The wearer simply pulls the “ripcord” to quickly inflate it.
“Stream wading is a great way to beat the heat and catch some fish,” Lynch said. “But keep safety in mind. With the right equipment, you’ll keep your feet on the ground and your head above water.”
I had intended to give a report here on two 17-year-old high school students who are making their mark as bass fishermen.
They are Brady Howard and Nicholas Boggs. They fish bass tournaments under the banner of the Louisa Bass Club. I think they have been honored as Co-anglers of the Year.
Brady is the son of Chad Howard and the grandson of Scott Howard. I don’t have background information yet on Boggs.
I spoke with Chad and set up a conference interview by phone for 4 p.m. last Sunday.
For the past three weeks I have been busy nursing my wife Bonnie back to health. We weren’t paying attention as often as we should have to her Type 2 diabetes. It rose to a dangerous level that wound her up in the emergency room at King’s Daughters Medical Center.
Since then, I’ve been administering insulin shots as often as prescribed by her doctor, plus preparing meals that she can eat safely.
At 4 p.m. last Sunday there was no way I could do a phone interview – even have the time to answer the phone or call out and explain why I couldn’t.
When my senior mind gets too many things on it my faulty memory lobe doesn’t function properly. I didn’t think about the aborted interview again until Tuesday.
Chad Howard hasn’t returned my calls of apology. I can only assume that he thinks I’m a writer who doesn’t keep his word, that perhaps I wasn’t interested enough in the story to follow through on it.
That, of course, was not the case. I’m still hoping that I can write about the accomplishments of Brady and Nicholas on the tournament trail.
Reach G. SAM PIATT at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 932-3619.