Saturday, April 13, is opening day of the 2013 Pennsylvania trout fishing season. The state’s variety of pristine streams and rivers will be dotted with fishermen and women in pursuit of a prize catch, either by boat or on foot along the shoreline or wading. Wading might appear safer than boating, but slip-and-fall injuries, or even drowning, are real dangers even for the most experienced waders. Non-swimmers are even more at risk for injury, or even death.
It doesn’t have to ruin your fishing experience to take a few safety measures. A little common sense and education will go a long way toward ensuring that your fishing experience is fun, not dangerous.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission offers a number of safety suggestions on its web site at www.fishandboat.com. Here are a few:
• Buddy up. Lonesome waters might seem good for the soul, but having someone to help in case of emergency is more practical than going solo.
• Wear a life jacket. A life jacket isn’t only for the boat. If you are a wader, wearing a life jacket will keep you warm, and most of all, it will keep you from drowning.
• Use a wading stick.You can buy an official wading staff, or use an old ski pole or heavy stick. Cross the current facing upstream.
• Protect your feet. Old-school wading shoes and boots with felt soles are out, due to whirling disease,didymo (algae) and other communicable fish diseases and invasive aquatic organisms. Instead, wear rubber-soled, high-traction wading footwear.
• Just whistle. Use a whistle to call for help or let your buddy know your whereabouts.
• Move slowly. Take one step at a time. When the water is over the top of your feet, lift your feet up slightly and shuffle along the bottom.
If you do fall into the water, immediately bend your knees to trap air in your waders, and work your way slowly back to the shore. Have some extra dry clothes nearby. Hopefully, your fall won’t be serious and you can continue to fish.
Enjoy a safe trout fishing season!
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