"A well-known fly-fishing expert and guide died yesterday
when he and a client fell into the waters off Edgartown,
Massachusetts. Kenneth Schwam, 46, was dragged under water
by a current and drowned off the Fuller Street Beach in Edgartown,
as he was attempting to return to shore," according to Edgartown
Police. "The unnamed client made it to shore and called police."
This is a very sad situation and one that may have been avoided.
For the better part of three years I've watched fly anglers
brave the surf in search of saltwater game fish. It utterly
amazes me. The risks that are taken just to get that line a
few more feet into the Atlantic is scary. I often wonder if
they really could learn to use that Spey rod well they wouldn't
even need to get there toes wet. Properly executed casts with
a Spey rod can shoot line more than 150 feet. You can't do that
with conventional spinning gear. I know you are saying, "Who
is he kidding." Well, I have seen Lefty and Nick do this many,
many times. It is all technique. Hey, I'm getting a little
off the topic here.
Wading precautions applies to all surf-fisherman, not just fly
anglers. Never, never, never under estimate the power of the
surf, especially undercurrents and in Florida our rip currents.
Rip currents are caused by water rushing down channels created
between sandbars only empty into a major channel leading back
to the sea. Old Salts refer to these as "holes". It is where
all the baitfish will be sucked along, while the predators wait
for the bait to coming flying by. Like a natural chum line.
An angler, or swimmer, can rarely swim against this current.
It's impossible to swim against. And, result in many deaths
each year. Remember the article on "Friend or Foe?" Respect
Let's talk a minute about waders. There are many brands and there
is a great range in prices. In Florida we use breathable waders.
Principally because the water is hot. Our surf temperatures can
be in the high 80s, so insulated waders are not a good idea.
In areas where the water is colder, (anything below 65F degrees
will cause hypothermia) insulated waders are used.
I personally don't like waders. All I can think about is this
large tube where water can collect and if enough goes in there,
well you figure it out. Most chest waders have suspenders. Yup,
to keep them up. Most chest waders come with a belt. I see
anglers out all the time, but without a belt. The principal
around having the belt is, if you fall in your legs will float,
because the belt keeps the water out, and the air and rubber
provides floatation. But if the upper part of your body is
heavier than your feet, the only part of you on top of the water
will be your feet. So that part I don't really understand.
The best advice is: BE CAREFUL! If you are going to wade fish,
don't let the water get higher than your thighs. And, if you
are going to hop across sandbars be sure you have a tide chart,
watch, and the common sense to return to the beach before the
tide comes in and traps you were you don't want to be.
A word from the LadyFisher here, she tells me the tide change
in the Pacific Northwest can be as much as 13 feet! And yes,
the tide currents set up channels there too. Fish are not
more important than your life. BE CAREFUL!
Practice Catch & Release and don't teach your trash to swim ~ Doug
~ Doug Sinclair
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to
Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters.
Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental.
Catch him on the web at
www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500.
Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.