Wading gets you to where the fish are, especially if you don't have a boat. Plus, there's nothing quite like the feel of currents wrapping around the legs and the rush of water in the ears to bring a sense of connection to the river. Shuffling around a river bottom with a strong current, however, takes practice and a dose of caution. Rivers, like people, have their own personalities. Some are practically wadable with just bare feet while others are treacherously rocky and slippery. If you know your destination well, you'll be able to bring the right gear and take some of the risk out of wading. Here are some pointers:
- Sturdy wading boots with felt or carpet are invaluable for traction and foot protection. Use spikes or add-on chains for slick rivers.
- Wear a wading belt cinched tightly around the waist during crossings to keep water out of your waders and you off the river bottom should you slip.
- Something to keep in mind: Big people can wade in deeper and swifter water than little people. Big folks' added weight helps keep their feet planted in deep water.
- Lock arms or hold hands with your fishing buddy to gain extra stability in fast or deep crossings. This is a good technique for the little people to remember.
- Use a stick or wading staff for support.
- Walking against the current in deep or swift water is difficult and throws off your balance.
- Move across and slightly downstream so that you are moving with the current. If done correctly, the current actually helps move your legs into position.
- Feel around with your foot before committing all your weight to the next step. This helps prevent incidents with nasty rocks.
- Act like a fish and take advantage of the eddies behind rocks or logs to rest or fish from.
- On hot days, dump all your gear and waders into a dry bag and swim to fishing holes.
And remember: Tighten your wading belt!