Monday, April 9, 2012

Winter is over & fishing hazards are present everywhere

Winter is over.  The trees are just starting to open their buds into fresh juvenile leaves in assorted greens.  When the warm south wind takes over, I open my windows and welcome the smell of spring.  I look forward but also look back.
This last winter was great; lots of moisture to load the mountains with fresh water for the upcoming spring, summer and fall.  And lots of memories.  I realize how fortunate I am to have places I can fish throughout winter and friends with whom I can share those times and memories.  And, I did a few things I have never done before.
Kids at the ranch
We had some kids out at the ranch.  While the oldest boy was reeling in a monster trout, the youngest fell into the water.  Without thinking, I reached for him and realizing I couldn’t reach him, I went in after him.  He was never really in any danger, only the one which we all perceived.  And I know we should have been watching him closer but, he was having fun and his mom was watching him carefully. We all just got distracted for just a second.  In any event, in a jiffy, we got him and his teddy bear safely out of the water.
Now, I needed to get out of the water.  I was already so cold and water logged I could hardly move.  Just in case of an emergency, the ranch owner had installed a ladder to help if anyone did happen to fall in.  I could not see the ladder.  I could only see about a 24” circle just ahead of my face – everything else was non-existent. I guess that is what is called “tunnel vision” and I have never experienced anything like that before.  I asked where the ladder was.  Not realizing that we were facing one another, they told me it was on my left, but I still could not find it.  Finally, they realized the error and directed me to my right (ralf was so focused he doesn't remeber my holding onto him from shore with a long handle net pulling him to shore) .  And there it was; not more than two or three feet on my left.  I don’t think I was in the water more than two or three minutes but the effects were dramatic.  It took a lot of effort to climb out.  I struggled to the truck and started stripping off my clothes.  I realized my wallet, phone and everything else was totally waterlogged.

Be prepared for all emergencies
Fortunately, my friend and I have learned from past experience never to go fishing without a complete change of clothes.  I quickly changed and slowly started to warm up.  The little guy stopped crying and settled down with mama and grandpa comforting him.  All in all, other than the scare, we were all fine.
But there were some important lessons learned.  Don’t let kids near the water without constant supervision.  Make sure you have a rescue plan for all contingencies.  Have clothes, blankets, towels and teddy bears ready in case they are needed.  Most of all be safe and have fun.
That’s what I learned this winter: that accidents can happen to anyone at any time and we must all be cautious, careful and hopefully, prepared.
[I am reluctant to tell this story because, for us, it is a bit embarrassing.  It was one of our kids who fell in.  However, we will all gladly put up with whatever embarrassment and criticism we are subject to - and quite frankly, deserve - in the hope that the reader might just be a bit scared too and; because of that, be more cautious.  I think that’s well worth it.
It’s going to be a great spring and summer but in addition to all my other fishing, traveling, teaching, guiding and have a great deal of fun goals, I have added one: BE SAFE!
I hope you find yourself in nature and nature within yourself.


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