Hard lessons learned & saving Motorola [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Hard lessons learned & saving Motorola

07-27-2002, 02:36 PM
I took a spill early this past spring in the Fortson hole on the Stilly :o . A cold slap in the face on safe wading which I took to heart. Having a 14 YO son wishing to take up the fly-rod, I made a point in trying to emphasize the hazards while instilling safe techniques to wading. They paid dividends yesterday.

I sent the young man on his way yesterday armed with his new 5 wt. and the Motorola Talkabout radio with instructions to stay off the Skagit River and only fish Diobsud Creek (both nearby). He obeyed my wishes, thankfully, and had a chilling wakeup of his own. He spilled big time.

About an hour into his fishing I radioed to check on his performance with the new rod. No answer. I radioed several more times, allowing a time lapse for him to shift from the rod activity to addressing my calls. No answer. I made quick tracks to his last known whereabouts and found my young man soaking wet, but well. He had fallen in to his chin level while negotiating an off-camber rock. The radio was the loser. While talking to him to ascertain his condition and dilemma he fell in again. Recovering he took several more steps then he did it again. Clutz came to mind as I laughed off the tension I felt.

Well the lesson learned was the necessity to keep that waist belt cinched TIGHT, a position he now allows possibly saved his life (and one in which he complained constantly beforehand). He's a true believer now.

We walked home discussing wading technique, emphasizing the need to take smaller steps and the need to settle one's feet slowly to feel the bottom before shifting weight to the foot and continuing. We are both looking at the possibility of including wading staffs to our compliment of fishing gear.

The young man is fine and better for his experience. The Motorola is likewise fine after drying out overnight (the speaker, being of pressed paper design was waterlogged and wouldn't vibrate correctly for sound output).

I guess that was the last ritual to his fly-fishing indoctrination - baptism under fire :eyecrazy: .

Teach'em well, my friends. NO shortcuts.


old man
07-27-2002, 06:31 PM
It's a good thing that he fell in and got wet. Because of all of the good luck that he's been having lately when I see him tomorrow I was going to throw him in. :razz: I hope you and him don't take this seriously. :D .

I'm glad he's all right. Did he fall in the Skagit or the creek by your house.

07-27-2002, 08:20 PM
Many of us down here carry cell phones in zip lock bags for the same reason. Lots of river, but not lots of people. Not had to use the phone for me, but have had one occation to do a 911 for someone else.

Water is nutral, it doesn't care ... and that's what makes "hydrolics" (sp?) so darn dangerous.

Other than the dunking; we'll all get there once or twice a year, walking away is a great "wake up" call. Give the Lad my best my friend.

(Ask Jim Jones: up last week for several days of fishing. 3 feet of water and boom! Kind of interesting to only see his silly hat, white chin-whisker above water. Had the good sense to hold onto his rod. )

07-27-2002, 08:44 PM
Funny thing, although he got soaked (and the radio, flies, etc.) his new rod stayed high and dry:chuckle: . Now that's keeping things in perspective, not that the water would hurt it. Now when I slipped in the Fortson hole, I too keep my rod dry but the hand with my pipe, you guessed it, went under. Didn't matter since all my tobacco, likewise, took a bath.

Yeah the ziplocks... After we dried out the radio we THEN put it in a ziplock. What's that about barn doors and the cow? The radio works just fine while zipped up and that is where his will stay when fishing.

Jim, he spilled in the creek in a nice and deep hole under the Highway 20 bridge. Fortunately there is little current there. He's just fine and ready for tomorrow morning's trip to the secret lake - see ya there.


07-27-2002, 09:41 PM
Use the freezer bag zip locks. Much heavier plastic and much better seal.

Been there (replaced cell phone) and done that.

07-27-2002, 09:52 PM
We've been there once or twice a year???? Man, you must be a clutz to fall in that many times a year. :hehe: I usually have one every 2-4 years. :D But last one was about 2 years ago, so I'm due for another. Was fishing the upper Hoh, slipped off the shelf I was standing on into 8' of water. Submerged then bobbed back up. Nice thing about neopremes, even full of water they'll keep you bouyant. Well, except in a nasty hydraulic, especially in class 4/5 type water (have helped fish dead people out of rivers who have been sucked under in hydraulics with class III/V life jackets on). When the water wants you, it can have you, even with high bouyancy life jackets.

But onto my story, slipped into the Hoh. Knowing my neopremes would float me I held my rod up with one hand, and swam with the other to the deep bank. Put rod up on shore and hauled myself out. Was borderline warm (at least sun was shining) but the water was ICE cold. Made for an interesting rest of day on the oars.

If you have the motorola's, I'd highly suggest spending the money for the waterproof bags. They actually protect the radio from the water, and are still usable without having to pull out of bag and turn on. Nice little contraptions. I have them for my old motorola's, but don't know if they have them for the family radios.

07-27-2002, 10:49 PM
Well guys, I got hip to the zip locks when I found the radio not working. I posted about the radios because they are handy for keeping in touch and that if submerged try pulling out the batteries and drying out the radio before giving them last rites.

Really, though, the post's intent was to engage others into discussing wading safety and the lot. Obviously my accident at Fortson proves that even knowledgeable fishers take spills, etc. Does anyone have any other ideas or stories which illustrate safety issues for wading? What about those inflatable PFD's, anyone use them while wading? Are there unique issues when using wading staffs?

There have been those who have not been as fortunate this summer as my son and I; maybe reviewing such issues as wading safety would serve us all well.



John Desjardins
07-27-2002, 11:33 PM
WS, you are right about the need to discuss wading safety. In my experience the manuver that causes the most spectacular falls is turning around to get back to the bank I that I entered the water from. As soon my body gets broadside to the current a swimming we go. A close second is stepping too deep into the water.

What I've learned is that there are river sections that I shouldn't think of wading. I base that judgement on 3 factors, water depth, water velocity, and bottom conditions. If 2 of those factors make me nervous its time to stop and reevaluate how to get where I want to go. If all 3 make me nervous its probably too late and I'm going swimming. :(

The local wally world had stearns life vests ( the fishermans model with pockets for gear) on sale last week for $11. Its cheap insurance.

07-27-2002, 11:41 PM
Have one old vest that has a built in inflateable yoke; worked well the one time I really needed it (dumb, stupid, etc., move on my part ... glad it was in the summer).

Have seen several advertisements for a inflateable suspender type of rig. Anyone used one of these?

07-28-2002, 12:59 AM

Yes those three factors are all serious players, but are there more? I remember back in the very early '70s fishing the White River (?) in Vermont and coming to a place that I knew had fish that was being overlooked by the other fisherman. Watch me trump this crowd I thought as I waded out to fish. Indeed I caught two smallmouths from this spot then decided to find another spot. The current wouldn't let me turn around and go back so I looked ahead in the flow only to find out why the others didn't fish here - I was on an underwater point, to go forward was to go swimming. There was nothing left to do but panic which I did for awhile until an oldtimer with a single piece rod came along and gave me the end of his rod to pull me off. Lesson learned the hard way (and one I've pointed out to my son). Don't wade in if you don't know the way out. And don't count on backtracking against the current. He's taught himself about off-cambered rocks and slime.

And I have one of those Stearns' PFD vests which I use when boating. Hmmmm...


Those Sospenders look cool but I hear they really protrude. Living so far up the river I seldom get down to civilization and have failed to actually check them out in person. I guess this should go towards the head of my to-do list.


John Desjardins
07-28-2002, 12:10 PM
WS, your right about there being more factors in falling. Thinking about it I'd add several more things that can cause falls. Sudden drop offs are one. A guide drowned on Nantucket after stepping off one a couple of months ago. Changes in flow or bottom conditions are another that should be added.

Most of the streams I fish are tannin colored and I find that if there more than waist deep I'm wading by feel. This is one situation where having little kids helps. Years of shuffling through the family room barefoot in the dark trying to avoid the Legos (boy it hurts to get one in the arch of your foot) reinforce the slow motions needed to avoid falling.

I'm sure someone here has SOSpenders and can comment on them. For now I'm going to use the Stearns PFD when in iffy territory. If nothing else it will keep me from wading too deep.

old man
07-28-2002, 12:12 PM
The closest place that I have foud them in our area is Western Marine,down on the Everett waterfront. Down by the Navy base. Those are the SOS suspenders.