Saturday, October 25, 2014

When Wading, Discretion is the Better Part of Valor

A back view picture of Doug Stewart  balancing himself in fast water rapids on the Deschutes River while fly fishing for steelhead
Doug Fly Fishing Fast Water
Throughout my fishing career I have been close to the brink of disaster many times but I was very lucky. I used these situations as learning experiences. However, one time I got a good lesson from the Deschutes River that reminded me I wasn’t indispensable. 

I was fishing a short run called the Ledge Hole, so named because you had to wade over large boulders up to your waist to reach a wide ledge. You needed to anchor your body against the current as you made your casts. It could be tenuous depending on the height of the river, but nonetheless I waded out and started casting my old standby, the Max Canyon. After only a few casts I was into a good-sized steelhead of at least 15 pounds. It took off downriver, and as I began to retreat to the bank, I suddenly slipped and started drifting downriver with my fish. Luckily, my wading belt was tightly secured, and it created an air pocket inside my waders which helped me keep afloat. 

As I struggled to restrain the fish, a stark realization emerged. I was nearing a series of rapids and had to make a split second decision, break the fish off or ride the rapids out to land it. For a moment I had some reservations, but I quickly realized that taking a chance might cost me my life. I tightened the drag and broke the fish off knowing that it was better to be safe than sorry.

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