On the Fly column: Prepare for accidents on the river
December 21, 2016
Besides a merry and bright season this year, I especially want to wish you a safe one. There's a terrific bumper sticker I've been seeing lately, "Safety 3rd," but getting hurt on the water (or anywhere else, for that matter) is no joke. Injury in fishing is rare, but if you spend over a certain number of days on the water in a year, you're going to hurt yourself. A little simple pre-planning goes a long way to making these inconveniences a bit more bearable.
The first thing to watch out for is the classic hook in your skin. Heads, thumbs, even eyes take their share of hooks over a fishing career. The number one thing to prevent serious injury is de-barbing your fly. Every single time, before it is fished. Work it out if you can, or just leave it in and head to the hospital. (Do you know where the closest hospital is and how to get there?) Sunglasses are the obvious and easiest choice for protection of your eyes, plus seeing fish and reducing glare isn't a bad thing, either.
Carry a first-aid kit in your vehicle or boat, and take yours when any knucklehead friends (who don't have the wisdom that you do) decide to take you fishing. It needs latex gloves, bandages, sports tape, antiseptic and antibacterial wipes, wraps, gauze, EpiPens, a ton of Band-Aids, pain relievers, antihistamines, sunblock and so on. A piece of hard candy in your kit might save a diabetic a trip to the hospital, and a blanket or dry change of clothes in your vehicle (or boat) all winter long is a real difference maker if you go for a dip unintentionally. When was the last time you took a CPR and first-aid class? It might be time for a refresher.
Many folks with heart conditions are buying their own defibrillators these days and so are fishing guides. Ask any paramedic, a defibrillator in the backcountry is the difference between life and death in some situations. They are easy to use, lightweight, and can even be found inspected and reconditioned for discount prices.
When fishing (backcountry skiing, hiking) alone, let someone know where you are headed. At least they'll know where to start looking for you when you don't show up for dinner. It is absolutely critical to keep an eye out in the winter, as ice dams can break loose above you and catch you by surprise. Keep looking upstream and get the heck out of the way when you see one of these things coming. Safety may be a bit boring, but sooner or later something is going to happen that wakes you up. I hope when it does, you're prepared with a safety first mentality. We at Taylor Creek wish all of you the happiest of new fishing years.
This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at (970) 927-4374 or taylorcreek.com.