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Does float fishing without a PFD = Death?

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June 25, 2009

Does float fishing without a PFD = Death?

By Tim Romano

I've been fishing from my raft the past three weekends here in Colorado and let me tell you there hasn't been a whole ton of fishing. It's pretty much been a whitewater bonanza. The highest water I've seen here in a long, long time. We've seen and heard of numerous boats flipping in normally easy rapids. To be perfectly honest it's been a bit scary at times. That's why when I read this piece in the Denver Post about a man...

...drowning on one of my favorite stretches of water I had to read it again.

There's no way he drown there I thought to myself... How? Then I re-read it. He wasn't equipped with a life jacket and he was wearing waders. Call me callous, but if you can't respect the river - there's no way in hell it's going to respect you. Not wearing a life jacket is plain stupidity. Especially during high water. I feel for this guy and think it's a tragedy, but if you don't want to have the river scoured by a gentleman of the likes above don't be an idiot - put on a PFD.

Did this man pay the ultimate price for being careless? Perhaps he forgot his life jacket at home. I'll tell you one thing, if he showed up in to get in my boat without a PFD - I would never have let him ride. What would you do?

TR

Comments (28)

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from KingFisher907 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

common sense is fairly uncommon these days...

I agree with you Tim, I would never have let him in the boat with a PFD...if not for his own safety, then for the safety of my wallet...

in this day and age of litigious goofballs, Id be wary of a lawsuit...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from KingFisher907 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

typo...I meant to say, I wouldve never let him aboard WITHOUT a PFD...not ever, not even once...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckeye wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

He would not be allowed on my boat either. I feel bad for the man and his family but that is just plain stupid.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from thatguy wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

You know my two cents on it after nearly swimming Seidel's suck-hole over Mother's Day weekend... Lucky none of the others in my boat were wearing waders that day.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from idahooutdoors wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

People should use common sense, but there is definitely a lack of it these days. People show up in droves to float our whitewater every spring, and treat it like an amusement park ride, surprised more don't drown... I do hate when they pass laws on such things to try and save lives, I still think it should be an individual choice to take risks, broad sweeping laws trying to save one group that end up hindering another are all to common......

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I'm on the water several times a week. I kayak, canoe, boat, john boat, belly boat, wade and wet wade. I have flipped canoes, kayaks, fell out of bass boats and john boats and have punctures my belly boats on several occasions. I have fallen into ice cold water with waders and even once this spring was knocked down my an ice flow that snuck up on me in a river. Someday I might me the guy you read about drowning because I do not wear a life vest in any manner while fishing and it is the last thing I'll reach for while in peril. I think it's a leftover macho thing from my younger days. I am smarter than that but in the back of my mind I still hear the words, "just swim to shore dummy". I know. Not too smart but I understand where other guys are coming from.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

He probably got a little too comfortable with his surroundings. I don't mess around on the water, PFD only comes off when the lake is cal enough and we aren't moving. Otherwise I've got it on. It's not for lack of knowing how to swim, but you never know what may knock you over the head or how your body reacts to the cold cold water that'll get ya.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big O wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

It's been said for thousands of years. The Sea(water of anykind) is a deadly misstress, and she'll kill you at any given oppertunity.
NO JACKET, NO RIDE !

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I'll admit I don't wear one all of the time. On a small lake in the summer, it's more likely to be on my seat than on my person. You need to exercise your own judgement. In high water or in cold water conditions, I'll wear one even when wading a relatively small stream.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ranger2 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

Sad. Too bad such fleeting and brief moments of poor decision have such devastating and eternal effects. Like you all have stated, people just don't use their heads like they need to. I never go out on the water without a life jacket, or anyone who rides with me. Why do you think they call it a LIFE jacket?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

He was a former educator and an avid outdoorsman?

All of the education and experience in the world doesn't matter unless one takes all of the neccessary precautions associated with the great outdoors.

What message does that send to his children?

Cast all safety measures away?

I don't get it ...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I met a game worden as I came out of my favorite duck marsh, which I have hunted for over 40 years, one December morning a few seasons ago. I was paddling my 18 foot grummen, with my lab, 4 doz dekes, 3 paddles and various and sundry other gear. I let him check my gun, my shells and stuff. He said to me, I'll let you go this time but you need a pfd. He said that you don't have to wear it, but you have to have it in the boat. Sorry guys, there are times and places for certain gear, but the nanny state is plainly overreaching. I'm more likely to get a heart attack because of all the gear I'm carrying than I am to drown in that swamp. Please save me from all the people who are trying to save me from myself. I've survived many near death experiances, most of them have been of my own making, cut me some slack on the laws for my own good.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

In PA not having one in the boat is the ONE UNFORGIVABLE OFFENSE that you WILL be cited for. I don't really have a problem with it. The only time I got ticked off was when I was camping with my in-laws and was going to take my wife and daughter out in their canoe. We had vests (though not our own as we hadn't brought our boat) and my daughter fit well in the stated weight range for hers and it seemed to me to fit pretty damned well. I'm about to shove off when the CO who watched from 30 yards away as I unloaded the canoe and got ready says from behind me "you shove off and I'm going to have to cite you" and proceeded to tell me that in his opinion the vest was too big for her and that essentially she might as well not be wearing one. That apparently translated into as far as he was concerned she wasn't wearing one and could not go out on the lake and that he'd call out the launch if I did. Generally speaking I'm all for respecting the LEO's you encounter and for the most part that has worked both ways. The combination of him watching us go through the trouble (she was wearing the vest when we got out of the truck), then the fact that it was based on his opinion, not the listed size, and it was a calm day in July royally pissed me off. I had to tell my 10 year old competitive swimmer that sorry kid, no boating this weekend. As her parent who was technically in the right anyway, my judgement was completely dismissed. Only the fact that my wife and daughter were there and that losing my temper at an LEO isn't the kind of thing either of them need to see allowed me to keep my calm. Overall I'm ok with the rule and most times the Conservation officers I've run into have been good guys, but I can't help but feel that this particular officer went out of his way to ruin my day and waited so it was as inconvenient as humanly possible.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sue Melus wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

Any suggestions on a good brand or model to be used while wade fishing? I think I need to buy one for my husband. He won't want to wear it though, because it will get in the way of his fishing vest.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I got to thinking about this article and a survey came to mind.

In 1986 the survey stated, that 7 out of 10 people that was in a serious head on car crash survived,if they had their seat belts on.

Now, I'm a gambling man, and I win most of the time when the odds are in my favor.
So,I started wearing a seat belt BEFORE they made the law.

I want to live as long as I can,I still take chances, but I don't play around when the odds aren't in my favor. That would be selfish of me,to cheat my kids out of having their father around to enjoy their lives,and their children.

If I'm ever in a head-on car crash,hopefully,I'll be one of the 7-that survives.

Life is to short to be so stupid!

I'm also the guy that pauses a little longer at stop signs, so my driving teens know what a stop sign really "feels" like!

So likewise,if my children or someone elses for that matter,sees me with a PFD on ...GOOD!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from seadog wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I can't imagine going without a PDF on whitewater.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from aragonnapoles wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

To Sue Melus,you can buy any brand of PFDs if is USCG aproved.I think any face up is better.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from vtbluegrass wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

On open water I generally don't wear mine unless its very cold or very rough and then usually only under power. Anytime a hard currents or rapids are envolved I wear it while in a boat. I never have and never will wear a pfd while wade fishing. While wading though I do have a brain that knows my capabilities if water gets to deep, fast, or any combination there of I will turn around and find a better path or return to shore.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 175rltw wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

we all gotta eat, why is everybody trying to put that guy out of work? Seriously, we spend so much time and effort on hunter and firearms safety, and often neglect other basics, and common sense. I approach each situation and evaluate it on an individual basis, to the extent that sometimes I don't go out on the water. There are times when a PFD is uneccesary, and there are times when it would be a joke to think that it will keep you alive. I highly reccomend taking an honest appraisal of your outing, and then taking whateber is the responsible, and sensible course of action.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from timromano wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

sue,

where's your hubby wading? It sounds serious. I know patagonia used to make a vest that doubled as a fishing vest. Perhaps you can find one somewhere.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fflutterffly wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

Lee Wulffs famous 'jumping off the bridge with waders on into the river' to prove they don't drag you down just never made me 100% confident. It's impossible to believe that the mere balance of pressure mitigates the physic that if it's heavier than water...you sink! PDF or die.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big Mike wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

PFD in the boat = the law + common sense

Class IV or V = PFD on.

I almost never put one on while fishing, but have them accessible, along with a Life Bag.

I know it's easy to go overboard (bad pun) on safety after an accident, especially one ending in tragedy; but who really wears a PFD on the average fishing float in normal class I-III water?

Whitewater is a completely different story.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FloridaHunter1226 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I can only hope that this serves as a wake up call for those who do not wear PFD.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dwaynez wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I think we have all experienced some sort of close call on the water, why take the chance of being caught in a tough spot without the proper gear.

You only have 1 life and if you get caught without it and you are alone you may not survive that close call, You could hit your head and we cout of it, that flotation devise could save your life.

I always wear one because you never know what can happen.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JKSMITH wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

Floating without a PDF equals suicide. I know that I have survived a spill or two because of my PDF. I also carry a throwable PDF and I've used it to rescue a swamped fisherman. A good PDF will also provide some margin of insulation after your unplanned swim.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elmer Fudd wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I don't see where it says he was wearing waders. Waders and whitewater without PFD is quite different than whitewater rafting without PFD.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from timromano wrote 4 years 41 weeks ago

I read it in another local article on the guy. He was waring waders though... A

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from cmcculloch wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

I recommend an inflatable PFD - small in size, there when you need it but don't get in the way. Just jerk the handle to inflate it when you fall in. For wade fishing I like these better than the automatic ones that inflate when they get wet. Too easy to blow the $20 CO2 cartridge with a false alarm.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from idahooutdoors wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

People should use common sense, but there is definitely a lack of it these days. People show up in droves to float our whitewater every spring, and treat it like an amusement park ride, surprised more don't drown... I do hate when they pass laws on such things to try and save lives, I still think it should be an individual choice to take risks, broad sweeping laws trying to save one group that end up hindering another are all to common......

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I met a game worden as I came out of my favorite duck marsh, which I have hunted for over 40 years, one December morning a few seasons ago. I was paddling my 18 foot grummen, with my lab, 4 doz dekes, 3 paddles and various and sundry other gear. I let him check my gun, my shells and stuff. He said to me, I'll let you go this time but you need a pfd. He said that you don't have to wear it, but you have to have it in the boat. Sorry guys, there are times and places for certain gear, but the nanny state is plainly overreaching. I'm more likely to get a heart attack because of all the gear I'm carrying than I am to drown in that swamp. Please save me from all the people who are trying to save me from myself. I've survived many near death experiances, most of them have been of my own making, cut me some slack on the laws for my own good.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

In PA not having one in the boat is the ONE UNFORGIVABLE OFFENSE that you WILL be cited for. I don't really have a problem with it. The only time I got ticked off was when I was camping with my in-laws and was going to take my wife and daughter out in their canoe. We had vests (though not our own as we hadn't brought our boat) and my daughter fit well in the stated weight range for hers and it seemed to me to fit pretty damned well. I'm about to shove off when the CO who watched from 30 yards away as I unloaded the canoe and got ready says from behind me "you shove off and I'm going to have to cite you" and proceeded to tell me that in his opinion the vest was too big for her and that essentially she might as well not be wearing one. That apparently translated into as far as he was concerned she wasn't wearing one and could not go out on the lake and that he'd call out the launch if I did. Generally speaking I'm all for respecting the LEO's you encounter and for the most part that has worked both ways. The combination of him watching us go through the trouble (she was wearing the vest when we got out of the truck), then the fact that it was based on his opinion, not the listed size, and it was a calm day in July royally pissed me off. I had to tell my 10 year old competitive swimmer that sorry kid, no boating this weekend. As her parent who was technically in the right anyway, my judgement was completely dismissed. Only the fact that my wife and daughter were there and that losing my temper at an LEO isn't the kind of thing either of them need to see allowed me to keep my calm. Overall I'm ok with the rule and most times the Conservation officers I've run into have been good guys, but I can't help but feel that this particular officer went out of his way to ruin my day and waited so it was as inconvenient as humanly possible.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from KingFisher907 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

common sense is fairly uncommon these days...

I agree with you Tim, I would never have let him in the boat with a PFD...if not for his own safety, then for the safety of my wallet...

in this day and age of litigious goofballs, Id be wary of a lawsuit...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from KingFisher907 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

typo...I meant to say, I wouldve never let him aboard WITHOUT a PFD...not ever, not even once...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckeye wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

He would not be allowed on my boat either. I feel bad for the man and his family but that is just plain stupid.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from thatguy wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

You know my two cents on it after nearly swimming Seidel's suck-hole over Mother's Day weekend... Lucky none of the others in my boat were wearing waders that day.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I'm on the water several times a week. I kayak, canoe, boat, john boat, belly boat, wade and wet wade. I have flipped canoes, kayaks, fell out of bass boats and john boats and have punctures my belly boats on several occasions. I have fallen into ice cold water with waders and even once this spring was knocked down my an ice flow that snuck up on me in a river. Someday I might me the guy you read about drowning because I do not wear a life vest in any manner while fishing and it is the last thing I'll reach for while in peril. I think it's a leftover macho thing from my younger days. I am smarter than that but in the back of my mind I still hear the words, "just swim to shore dummy". I know. Not too smart but I understand where other guys are coming from.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

He probably got a little too comfortable with his surroundings. I don't mess around on the water, PFD only comes off when the lake is cal enough and we aren't moving. Otherwise I've got it on. It's not for lack of knowing how to swim, but you never know what may knock you over the head or how your body reacts to the cold cold water that'll get ya.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big O wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

It's been said for thousands of years. The Sea(water of anykind) is a deadly misstress, and she'll kill you at any given oppertunity.
NO JACKET, NO RIDE !

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I'll admit I don't wear one all of the time. On a small lake in the summer, it's more likely to be on my seat than on my person. You need to exercise your own judgement. In high water or in cold water conditions, I'll wear one even when wading a relatively small stream.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ranger2 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

Sad. Too bad such fleeting and brief moments of poor decision have such devastating and eternal effects. Like you all have stated, people just don't use their heads like they need to. I never go out on the water without a life jacket, or anyone who rides with me. Why do you think they call it a LIFE jacket?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

He was a former educator and an avid outdoorsman?

All of the education and experience in the world doesn't matter unless one takes all of the neccessary precautions associated with the great outdoors.

What message does that send to his children?

Cast all safety measures away?

I don't get it ...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sue Melus wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

Any suggestions on a good brand or model to be used while wade fishing? I think I need to buy one for my husband. He won't want to wear it though, because it will get in the way of his fishing vest.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2Poppa wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I got to thinking about this article and a survey came to mind.

In 1986 the survey stated, that 7 out of 10 people that was in a serious head on car crash survived,if they had their seat belts on.

Now, I'm a gambling man, and I win most of the time when the odds are in my favor.
So,I started wearing a seat belt BEFORE they made the law.

I want to live as long as I can,I still take chances, but I don't play around when the odds aren't in my favor. That would be selfish of me,to cheat my kids out of having their father around to enjoy their lives,and their children.

If I'm ever in a head-on car crash,hopefully,I'll be one of the 7-that survives.

Life is to short to be so stupid!

I'm also the guy that pauses a little longer at stop signs, so my driving teens know what a stop sign really "feels" like!

So likewise,if my children or someone elses for that matter,sees me with a PFD on ...GOOD!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from seadog wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I can't imagine going without a PDF on whitewater.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from aragonnapoles wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

To Sue Melus,you can buy any brand of PFDs if is USCG aproved.I think any face up is better.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from vtbluegrass wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

On open water I generally don't wear mine unless its very cold or very rough and then usually only under power. Anytime a hard currents or rapids are envolved I wear it while in a boat. I never have and never will wear a pfd while wade fishing. While wading though I do have a brain that knows my capabilities if water gets to deep, fast, or any combination there of I will turn around and find a better path or return to shore.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 175rltw wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

we all gotta eat, why is everybody trying to put that guy out of work? Seriously, we spend so much time and effort on hunter and firearms safety, and often neglect other basics, and common sense. I approach each situation and evaluate it on an individual basis, to the extent that sometimes I don't go out on the water. There are times when a PFD is uneccesary, and there are times when it would be a joke to think that it will keep you alive. I highly reccomend taking an honest appraisal of your outing, and then taking whateber is the responsible, and sensible course of action.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from timromano wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

sue,

where's your hubby wading? It sounds serious. I know patagonia used to make a vest that doubled as a fishing vest. Perhaps you can find one somewhere.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fflutterffly wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

Lee Wulffs famous 'jumping off the bridge with waders on into the river' to prove they don't drag you down just never made me 100% confident. It's impossible to believe that the mere balance of pressure mitigates the physic that if it's heavier than water...you sink! PDF or die.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big Mike wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

PFD in the boat = the law + common sense

Class IV or V = PFD on.

I almost never put one on while fishing, but have them accessible, along with a Life Bag.

I know it's easy to go overboard (bad pun) on safety after an accident, especially one ending in tragedy; but who really wears a PFD on the average fishing float in normal class I-III water?

Whitewater is a completely different story.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FloridaHunter1226 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I can only hope that this serves as a wake up call for those who do not wear PFD.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dwaynez wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I think we have all experienced some sort of close call on the water, why take the chance of being caught in a tough spot without the proper gear.

You only have 1 life and if you get caught without it and you are alone you may not survive that close call, You could hit your head and we cout of it, that flotation devise could save your life.

I always wear one because you never know what can happen.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JKSMITH wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

Floating without a PDF equals suicide. I know that I have survived a spill or two because of my PDF. I also carry a throwable PDF and I've used it to rescue a swamped fisherman. A good PDF will also provide some margin of insulation after your unplanned swim.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elmer Fudd wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I don't see where it says he was wearing waders. Waders and whitewater without PFD is quite different than whitewater rafting without PFD.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from timromano wrote 4 years 41 weeks ago

I read it in another local article on the guy. He was waring waders though... A

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from cmcculloch wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

I recommend an inflatable PFD - small in size, there when you need it but don't get in the way. Just jerk the handle to inflate it when you fall in. For wade fishing I like these better than the automatic ones that inflate when they get wet. Too easy to blow the $20 CO2 cartridge with a false alarm.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

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