Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre
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Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre

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Wading Safe -  A guide to wading safely

There are a few basic rules for ensuring your personal safety when fishing. When wading most hazards are usually created by over-reaching yourself and taking unnecessary risks. here we present for you a detailed breakdown of how to avoid the dangers associated with wading.

Wading allows you to get access to places that are denied the less adventurous but beware of getting into trouble by being too ambitious.

Fishing on your own is good fun but in an emergency you may need help so it is always safer to fish with a friend. Both of you benefit from the added security of someone to help if things get out of hand. - never fish alone on remote streams.

Safety Gear - can include a PFD (Personal Flotation Device). The very latest in PFD's are comfortable and camouflaged to to make sure they can be worn all day, even through the heat of summer. A whistle hanging from your vest on a zinger (retractable cord) is a great back up in case you go in or roll an ankle. They are also good for communicating with friends or other fly fishers.

Wading Boots- These have recently undergone a revolution with good quality felt soled wading boots with in reach of most anglers. Some have cleats or spikes or screw in studs. The way in which felt sole boots grip to slippery rocks could be likened to the way in which a fly walks up a window! The felt soles are replaceable meaning they can last you for ten years or more of fishing. They also provide great ankle support.

Wading Staff- Use a stick, ski pole or a commercially designed wading staff when wading. Ski poles are lightweight, strong and make a great staff. You can make your own on the stream bank with a piece of hardwood from one of the many gum trees that line our rivers. Don't use softer woods like willow as they will flex and/or snap making them useless for this purpose.

Use the staff upstream as a third leg to steady yourself and prop off while you move one foot forward. Shuffle your feet so that they bury into the slippery stones, before shifting you weight onto it and moving the back foot up. Get each step secure before moving the next foot.

Collapsible wading staffs are terrific, they come in a packed holster and when the staff is extracted it locks together like a tent pole, it having an internal spring through the middle of it.

Other - When wading make careful note of how you track your way out to your spot as you will also need to make your way back. Never venture too deep into fast flowing water. Remembering it is easy to wade downstream into a good spot in fast/deep water but getting back up can cause all sorts of problems. If in doubt, don't do it.

Also be aware that river levels can change quickly at times. Be aware of sticks, logs and other debris drifting on the water's surface. A sure sign that the water is on its way up. Notorious rivers like the Tumut can rise rapidly and dangerously. if you are within earshot of the power station you may hear a siren warning of a rapid rise in levels. Even the Goulburn can rise rapidly while you are wading. Always have an exit strategy.

Lightweight chest waders such as the modern breathables are safer than thigh boots only if you don't wade in too far. The deeper you wade the more buoyant you become, loosening the grip of your boots on the bottom. Chest waders don't "Pull you down" as previously thought. If you do go over in these waders bending your knees will trap air in the legs that will help to support your lower body.

If you do lose your footing, stay on your back, bend your knees out in front of you and drift with the current. You should stay afloat. If you cannot swim or are not confident then you do need a PFD. Email us for more details.

Angle yourself slowly to the shore - do not try to swim against the current as you will quickly exhaust yourself. Stay away from strainers of branches, snags and trees, they are very serious hazards as the weight of the flowing water can easily push you under such obtrusions leaving you trapped and unable to escape. Also in mountain streams be careful of searching the bottom out with your feet. Foot entrapment is the way most people drown in this type of water. This occurs when the victim gets a foot caught in between rocks and the weight/force of the current pushes them over and they are unable to get out. It is better to remain on you back and drift to safer water where possible.

Don't let any of this deter you from wading, just be aware that there are risks and dangers involved that can be avoided with a bit of forethought. Understanding, and more importantly respecting water, is the most fundamental thing that we as anglers must come to appreciate.

-Antony, David and Geoff.



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