Many anglers enjoy wading streams in the summertime. It can be a great method to access fish that might otherwise not be available to you from the bank. Here are some common sense safety rules that can help wading be a safe method of fishing.
Losing ones balance while wading can be deadly. The best method of moving around in a stream is to slide your feet slowly along the bottom. If your foot bumps into an obstruction, slowly maneuver around it. This will help you find sharp drop off points and not to trip over rocks. The most sure-fire method of finding drop offs is to bring a wading stick. A wading stick is simply a stick that you carry with you to test the depth of the water before you step into it. Don't use your fishing rod to test the depth of the water. You might run the risk of breaking your expensive rod by using it like this.
While wading you should not be carrying items in your hands (other than a wading stick). You need to use your arms for balance. Carry as little equipment as you can. A light backpack, one fishing rod, and your wading stick is the optimum amount of equipment to bring with you.
Every wader has a maximum depth of water that he feels comfortable with. Remember that just because your waders come up to your chest doesn't mean that you can wade in water that is that deep. You never want to go in water higher than the lower part of your chest. If you do, you run the risk of your waders becoming "swamped", which is when the water level becomes higher than your waders and quickly rushes in and fills them. If this begins to happen to you, quickly locate the side of the stream, roll on your back, and swing your legs up into the air. This will cause the water to rush out of the waders, allowing you to remove them. One thing that you will find is that once your waders become swamped you will be able to move around as long as the water is up to your belly. If the water is deeper than that, you really should be wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). This will literally keep your head above the water. You might think that wearing a PFD is inconvenient, but it is one of those things that if you need it, you absolutely have to have it. You should get into the habit of wearing one if you wade in deeper waters. There are PFD's that are more comfortable. These are called Sospenders because they look like suspenders. They are designed to fill with air when they get wet. They "explode" very quickly so the wearer will have his head kept above the water in an emergency situation.
The depth of water that is safe becomes shallower as the speed of the water increases. Simply put, the faster the water is traveling the more dangerous it is. Remember a "common sense" rule about water speed; if the water looks like it is running too fast to safely wade, it most likely is. Just because your waders fit you up to your chest doesn't mean that you can wade in water that is that deep.
Always remember to concentrate on your footing. Do not become distracted while you are moving from place to place.
There are many types of waders on the market. Neoprene waders are very hot in the summertime. The flip side of this is that they will keep you warm in the winter. The best feature about these is that they are form-fitting. They actually hold to your body. This prevents them from becoming quickly swamped like the older style of waders. This is a great safety feature, especially in the winter.
Wading can be a very safe and enjoyable activity. Just remember these common sense rules and enjoy fishing this for the rest of the summer.