Hypothermia in the blistering heat [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Hypothermia in the blistering heat

07-26-2001, 07:36 AM
Recent cool water has proven to be a good lesson for wet waders on Monomoy. Last weekend, despite the heat, it seemed all of us who were without waders suffered from various degrees of hypothermia in the middle of the day, sweltering heat.

The symptoms were:

- no sensation of cold, but
- chattering teeth and shivering
- cramping in the calves and thighs (for me anyway)
- only comfortable when another pod of cows approached ;)

Looking back at the days I've wet waded in the past, I would have to say that any extended time in the water has been uncomfortable after a while. This applies to experiences out west as well as on the east coast.

Other negative experiences include strange stinging organisms.

The advantages include mobility and safety, the ability to swim if caught on a bar, etc.

By paying the extra $$ for a pair of the coolmax fast dry under garments the level of comfort while wet wading was significantly improved. I do not think this will help the body sustain it's normal temperature level but it sure makes a huge difference in comfort.

After a discussion with the #1 wet wading dude on Cape Cod, John Morin, I've decided that I will limit my wading without waders to shallow water excursions or those requiring very short intervals in the water, and will wear my breathables for all other situations even in high heat if extensive wading is required.

07-26-2001, 08:16 AM
That was amazing how we all felt that way. I can't wait till Striblue reads this and makes fun of us. It makes me think that the investment into breathables may be worth it. Not till next year I don't think.


07-26-2001, 08:55 AM
I noticed some dramatic (to my senses) water temp variations whilst wet wading at the rip last time. Other factors on a really hot day could include dehydration and/or salt-loss. I had a pretty scary moment back in March at CXI when I got so engrossed with the action I forgot to drink water. I suddendly felt like death, broke out in a cold sweat and just about managed to stagger back to the skiff. After a good long drink and 15 minutes I felt fine but it was pretty scary at the time.

07-26-2001, 09:33 AM
The thermodynamics of a 98 degree human standing thigh deep in 60-70 degree water are overwhelming...Direct contact with cooling water is 25 times more powerful than typical wind-chill effects...legs acting like a set of large cooling radiators...body with a limited amount of energy available before the heat lost becomes "critical"...
(Ever try sleeping on an unheated water bed on a 99 degree August night with only sheets between you and the cool mattress? You WILL wake up quite cold and looking for a place to warm up...) Giant heat sink!
I used to dive in the frigid waters around Cape Anne wearing a "dry suit"...friends in wet suits with blue lips would be quite spent by mid-day and would fall asleep at dinner...the heat transfer had been so great and their bodies had spent so much energy trying to stay warm that they were exhausted and quite done in. One brewski and it was lights out.
The onset of hypothermia is serious and needs to be treated immediately because it will only get worse and will quickly render you with pronounced deminished capacity...and may even get you on the front page of the Globe...film at 11 ! Anything between you and the water will reduct heat loss. I wonder when we will start seeing seals wearing the latest Orvis line?! Wade warm...wade safe!

07-26-2001, 09:52 AM
I have been wearing just shorts under my breathables and have had no problems. In fact the coolness of the water feels nice through the waders. What have other people been wearing? I know when I go to the Salmon River in October I have to wear flease.

07-26-2001, 10:39 AM
I had my boat out Monomoy on monday (avoided the crowds). The temperature sensor on my fishfinder was in the mid 50's most of the day. I did not get into the water more than knee deep and then only on a flooding warm sand bar.

07-26-2001, 10:52 AM
Saturday was interesting for me to say the least. I was not cold yet my teeth were chattering and my knees were knocking. I kept thinking "Hypothermia sets in hard when your core body temperature drops by 4 degrees". I swear that I was close to the 4 degree mark. A thin guy like me has a favorable surface to volume ratio for heat exchange.

I never felt that I was in danger since a warm beach was merely 100 yards away. However, next time I am flats fishing I will bring my waders. If I am flats fishing there is a higher probability that I will be in waist deep water all day and it appears that waders make life more enjoyable.

Nick, if and when you are in the market for some breatheables let me know. I would be happy to check the LL Bean outlet here in NH (5 minutes from my house) for something in your size. At any given time they have a fair number of pairs of gore-tex waders for 30-40% off catalog prices.


07-26-2001, 11:08 AM
Craig, I almost always wade with breathables out there. In fact I've only done the wet wade thing three or four times. It's one of those lessons I keep learning over and over so I thought it would be good to post and discuss.

I usually carry a 25 oz bottle of water per person for a 1/2 day outing. This time out I only grabbed a partially full small bottle in a rush at the causeway. I usually take a long time at the causeway to prep, force of habit from taking people out when you really can't forget anything. Ed always rides me pretty good about that, and this was no exception so I grabbed and went. Not worth it, I'll take the next shuttle from now on.

I was managing the hydration pretty well with a few ounces until that ran out, then I had a sensation of nausea and cramped up pretty good from all the walking. At one point I had no choice but to sit down... unfortunately I had to do that in water that was thigh deep, making me submerge up to my armpits sitting to work out the cramp, further dropping my body temp, etc.

As Mike says the savings grace is the proximity to shore but that feels like a marathon with the surging tide under those physical conditions.

The good news is the greenheads took one look at me and didn't want none of that as I walked back to the boat. ;)

07-26-2001, 12:59 PM
When you are sight fishing, how deep are people going? I find it extremely difficult to see fish if I am in water that is above my knees.

07-26-2001, 01:21 PM
Visibility depends on a number of factors including sun, wind and time of day; the presence of fish in real shallow water depends on the spot and the phase of the tide, etc. Sometimes working the shallows doesn't pay off, other times it does.

Some areas, although quite deep, are well worth staking out due to the number of fish using the 'lane'. It's true some big fish bravely rove about in knee deep water but these encounters are fewer. I find it tempting and pleasant to just work the real shallow rovers but for each one of those pods there are 20 in more difficult water to fish, hence the attraction for the latter. That's where the waders come in.

That being said, the 40" I caught a couple weeks back was a shallow rover and the other two it swimming with it were not much smaller. A pair in the 30-35" class had just passed before these showed up, all in super s-k-i-n-n-y water.

The area's flats are a true gift to the striper angler.

07-26-2001, 04:02 PM
Wet wading is ok with me as long as you don't plan to spend the whole day in the water... or wade crotch high... I have spent all day on North monomoy wet wading and taking breaks and also generally not wading above my knees except for short half hour intervals or for getting to a certain place... but for moving long dstances comfotably on hot days in sand... I will still choose wet wading.barefoot.