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Safety first

May 21, 2014

When you think of dangerous sports, you might think of mountain climbing or skydiving, maybe even hunting, but fishing is not likely to come to mind. In reality, all the above activities are very safe, statistically and practically, when properly practiced. Each sport has its own protocols, customs, precautions, established rules and guidelines; ignore any of them at your peril. You can get in trouble fishing just as easily as in any other outdoor activity.

I don’t fish more carelessly than others, but I do fish more than most and likely harder. I’ve trekked long distances in the dark, walked slippery cobbles, fished cold-water conditions and made my share of boneheaded moves. So I’ve been hooked, submerged and taken hard falls more times than I want to admit. When you get your fishing outfit, it’s not likely to have a safely manual with it. Allow me to make a few suggestions. When it comes to bad things, you don’t want to learn by experience. Alas, “experience keeps a dear school, but a fool will learn in no other.”

The excitement of rising fish or ideal conditions can cloud one’s judgment. Sometimes we are so focused on fishing that we forget to think about safety. For example, you hear thunder rumbling in from the west, fish are rising in a pre-storm frenzy… do you leave the stream and seek safe shelter?... or consider just one more cast, one more fish? The fact that I am writing this only means that I have been lucky, not necessarily smart. But the largest trout ever bred, isn’t worth one fisher dead. Avoid lightening. Get out of the water earlier, not later, and seek shelter.