There May Be a Test
If you're a beginner or an old hand it's time to
listen up since the beginning of the summer angling
season will soon be upon us. Some of your skills may
be rusty, some things you may have forgotten, and
some things you may have never learned. Now is your
chance for redemption before you find yourself with
rod in hand and not a clue as to what or how you
should approach a certain situation.
By Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona
While you may have spent some time in wet rubber
pants back at the beginning of your life let's
face it; you did not learn to walk on algae
overed bowling balls while waist deep in
cold running water!
We humans are basically dry land animals, thus
wading, except in a mud puddle, is not an
activity that is a natural part of our
biological makeup. Unlike most mammals we
walk on two legs rather than four, and this
automatically decreases our stability. Our
two legs are rather thick increasing the
resistance that we encounter when attempting
to push them through a dense substance like
water. Water weights 8.3 pounds per gallon,
and when it comes rushing at us in its attempt
to get to the sea it considers us an obstacle
to be pushed aside, knocked over, washed away,
or a combination of all of the above. Given
the right circumstances it can easily accomplish
An old fishing guide once passed along this
sage advice: "Fish are supposed to be cold
and wet, fishermen are supposed to be warm
and dry." My experience tells met that any
water that is cold enough for wild trout is
too cold for a civilized human to be swimming
in, especially when encased in rubber pants
with feet! Except for the entertainment value
that you will afford your friends swimming in
waders has very little redeeming social value.
Thus, if you want to avoid being cold and wet
and the source of entertainment for your angling
buddies I would suggest that you seriously consider
the following admonishments.
First, buy waders with felt soles, and when
necessary add cleats. Wet rubber is no match
for algae covered rocks, and a fall may bruise
more than your ego.
Second, buy a wading staff and use it. A wading
staff gives you the benefit of an extra leg, and
unless you are unusual I would wager that you
currently only have two. A tripod is more stable
than a bipod, and when wading in running water
stability is good.
Third, get a wading belt and cinch it up tight
around your middle. If you have ever tried to
walk in waders that are full of water you know
the value of a wader belt. While you may not
always avoid a quick dip while wading a wader
belt will keep a lot of that icy cold fluid
that weights 8.3 pounds per gallon from
filling your waders.
The most important thing is to know your limits.
I have been fishing for longer than many of you
are old and I have yet to see a fish that was
worth taking a risk that might get me wet or
cost me my life. If you are uncertain that you
can do it safely don't try. By walking away you
may live to fish another day.
HATS, SUNGLASSES, LONG SLEEVED SHIRTS, AND SUNSCREEN
Buy them and use them.
We all enjoy a warm sunny day, but Old Sol is not
necessarily your friend. Given half a chance it
will fry your hide; blind your eyes, ruin your
trip, and shorten your life. The key is, 'don't
make yourself a victim.'
A good hat should shade your eyes, ears and neck.
While the traditional wide brimmed cowboy type
hat may make you look dashing when the wind comes
up it may cause you to go dashing up and down the
stream trying to catch the darn thing. If it fits
so tightly that it cannot blow off it will be most
uncomfortable, and those neat chin straps are great
if you like to be chocked. A more practical solution
is a baseball type hat with a long bill and some
type of addition that covers the neck and ears. My
old Norwegian Fishing Hat that I purchased from
Orvis over 40 years ago is the best thing that I
have ever found, but many of the hats used by salt
water anglers offer similar features.
Polarized sunglasses are a must, not just for
seeing fish before they see you, but to protect
your eyes from the glare of the sun. You only
have one pair of eyes, unless you are like my
mother who had eyes in the back of her head.
Given the reality that you only have two eyes
it seems logical that you do what you can to
protect them, and a good pair of Polarized
sunglasses is just what the doctor ordered.
Long-sleeved shirts and sunscreen go together
like cold water and trout. A long-sleeved shirt
or blouse, depending on your gender, is essential
to protect your arms from the sun. You can roll
up the sleeves to get a little sun and then they
can be rolled down before your skin turns a bright
shade of red. Can't do that with short sleeves.
Sunscreen should be liberally applied to
everything that is not covered or that is
exposed to reflected sunlight. That includes
your face and hands. Even if you are wearing
a hat the sun reflecting off the water is
still capable of burning your unprotected
face. Sunscreen should be waterproof, have
the necessary ingredients to protect your
skin from UV rays, and be applied liberally
and often. If you need motivation to do this
consider the fact that skin cancer is one of
the most difficult types of cancer to cure,
and being diagnosed with cancer can really
ruin your day.
One additional item should be lip balm.
Lips are subject to sunburn and sunburned
lips can really make for a miserable time.
Buy some with UV protection and use it
I hope you took notes because there will be
a test, and it will come the next time you
head out to your favorite fishing hole. If
you come home dry and without a sunburn you
should get an A! ~ Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona
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