Steelhead fishing is often done is cold or crappy weather unless you are lucky enough to squeeze in some summer fishing where falling in certainly isn't a big issue. However if it’s fall or winter you can expect bone chilling water and air temps that are so cold hitch hikers hold up pictures of thumbs. Falling in the river anytime can be horrible but in the cold it can even be dangerous. If you are camping and you fall in you need to take it very seriously. Here are the the things to remember.
Check Phone or non waterproof camera. The second after you pop up from falling in pull out your iPhone and check to see the damage. If it is an otter case pull it out of the case immediately. If it got wet do not try to turn it on, that will kill it right off the bat. If you are near your car go put it on the heater and dry it out as best as possible. However the best trick is to seal it in a bag of rice. I now always carry a bag of rice in my car for just this situation. 72 hours in a tightly sealed bag of rice will give it the best chance of survival as long as you never try to turn it on (that is the kiss of death). I have pulled phones off the bottom of rivers and lakes that have survived with this trick.
Change out of wet clothes. Always carry a change of clothes. Drain your waders quickly. Your wading belt will keep a lot of water above your waist so drop the suspenders and get out as much as you can. Quickly take off your top outer layer as it will be the wettest. Often times the base layers aren't too bad. Take your waders off and dry out the gore-tex on the inside as best as you can with a towel or anything you have kicking around. Swap out your pants to a good thick pair of fleece pants and you are nearly ready to go. You want the pants to be a thick pair as there will still be some moisture on the gore-tex so the extra thickness will keep you dry the rest of the day.
Waterproof socks. The worst part of falling in is that your neoprene booties will never dry out. The best trick you can do is carry a pair of waterproof socks. I use the Seal Skinz as they come up high on your leg, are comfortable and warm with merino wool liners and work like a hot damn.
Suit back up you are ready to rock. After you change out to a nice bulky fleece hoody, a new dry jacket if needed you will be warm, dry and comfortable for the rest of the day. I follow this process religiously and with a little planning before hand the only lingering effect of falling in will be a slightly bruised ego.
List of clothes to bring in case you fall in, click on each to see what I use.
- waterproof socks by Seal Skins (most important)
- base layer - merino wool 260 weight zip up by Icebreaker
- Fleece pants - Thick pair of Fjord fleece pants by simms
- Under Armour Storm ColdGear Fleece hoody