Ask a thousand people how they want to die and 995 people will say, “peacefully in my sleep” as the preferred method of departure. From that predictable point the various ways one can bite the bullet are endless. Each individual harbors personal death preferences and for me, death by drowning is extremely low on my desired ways of walking toward the light.
When I first started fly fishing I wore the full blown chest waders because that’s what you do when you become a fly fisher-er-man-woman-whatever. Despite the fact a touch of girly came out in me and I thought those overall waders made my ass look like the state of Texas, I did love the river freedoms they afforded. I went from a dirt bank dweller to a water rat with no boundaries.
The problem, for me, or maybe I should label it for what it was—the temptation—with chest waders was the ability to wade out to that one spot. You know the one, that if you can just get to there you can roll cast back to the bank, around the hanging tree and to that one rising trout. I’m sure this is a me thing and others don’t suffer from such temptations. The sort of fishing weakness that leaves a good set of common sense guidelines back at the truck. It didn’t take long to figure out I wasn’t Jesus and couldn’t actually defy water, command water, and I certainly couldn’t walk on water.
I discovered that unlike my Fly Fishing Mentor or other more stout guys around, weighing in at a buck 35 (that’s right, I wrote my weight, I’m also tall, but weight is the only measurements I’m parting with today) doesn’t exactly weigh me down like everyone else if there’s any sort of current. I’m sure there’s some physics involved here, a mathematical formula that would explain why Rebecca + River divided by Wade Depth x Current=Certain Death Swirl.
I had my fair share of ‘oh shit, I’m gonna die’ moments. It didn’t take that long to put two and two together to realize my personal red zone. The threshold between safety and danger Will Robinson !! was my hip area. I can wade all day long with water swooshing between my legs, but take those one or two temptation steps into a current that puts my hips under water and it’s like a freight train pushing against me and underwater arms pulling me out for a lets talk about dead meeting.
The breaking point was on the S.F. of the Boise River. A beautiful June afternoon when the river was still high ( I know! I know! No lectures nessassary, I swear, I learned my lesson) and the fish were rising all around me. Temptation was doing a good job of luring me into the red zone or maybe it wasn’t temptation that time. I think I’d rather blame the trout that was rising behind a rock and I couldn’t get a good drift into his honey hole. I blame the fish (written like a true addict, push blame) for those few extra steps that would have lined my fly up just right. Two extra steps, freight train pushing against my stomach and whooosh…..sucked out into the current and down the river.
Obviously I lived, but not without getting spit back out on the wrong side of the river, drenched, frozen, exhausted, stranded and hyperventilating like a fish tossed on the riverbank. Two hours. Two long ass hours I laid on the other side of the river sunning myself and pondering the meaning of life. Rescue came in the form of two Fly guys, one black lab and a drift boat. Mortification would be an understatement here, but I took the safe passage, quietly said my grateful Thank You and went home.
The next day I did what anyone who has a second chance at life should do. I admitted my weaknesses in the face of temptation, embraced my responsibility and made the step to remove the catalyst of my downfall. If you’re an alcoholic, you remove the booze, if you’re a smoker, you throw away the cigarettes, if you’re a gambler you stay away from casinos. I was consistantly guilty of stepping one foot too far while wading, so I threw away the chest waders and purchased a set of hip waders. I call that restriction by choice removal.
My name is Rebecca and I am weak,
full of temptations and a textbook
addict in the face of Trout pursuit.
P.S. I have not participated in a single death swirl since my hip wader purchase. When I’m not wearing waders, I adhere to a strict 4 inches above the knee rule. Clearly I’m back in the ‘die peacefully in my sleep’ fold.