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Fishing is fun, no doubt about it. There are many ways to do it. Many people fish from a boat, others fish from the shoreline, and some wade. Wading can be dangerous, especially if you can’t swim. Remember, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States. You can protect yourself by wading safely. These tips should help you be safe when you wade.


Watch Your Step!Never fish alone. In an emergency, having someone around who can help is always best.

Wear a life jacket. WEAR IT! Life jackets float. You don’t. Many styles have pockets where you can put your fishing stuff. A life jacket will also help keep you warm.

Use a wading stick or staff. An old ski pole works well. A heavy stick will work, too. Some tackle stores even sell wading staffs.

Footwear is important. In the past, wading shoes and boots with felt soles were recommended. However, with the introduction of whirling disease, didymo (algae) and other communicable fish diseases and invasive aquatic organisms, this type of footwear should not be used. Instead, rubber-soled footwear is recommended with many new, high-traction versions made specifically for wading available.

Carry a whistle. You can use the whistle to call for help. You can also use the whistle to tell your fishing buddy where you are.

If you are wading with a staff, cross the current facing upstream. Lean on the staff as if it were a third leg.

Shuffle your feet. When in water over the top of your feet, don’t pick up your feet. Lift them up just a little and shuffle along the bottom.

Take one step at a time. It isn’t a race, so go slowly. You will scare fewer fish that way, too.

Waders and hip boots will not “pull you down,” as many people think. If you fall in, immediately bend your knees to trap air in your waders.

Stay on your back with your feet downstream and your knees bent. Work your way slowly to shore. Don’t panic. Your life jacket will keep you afloat. If you don’t know how to swim, you should learn. It’s your best protection when you are on or near the water.

Lastly, have some extra dry clothes. A dry sweatshirt and sweat pants sure feel good after you have taken a swim. Besides, if you have clothes to change in to, you can keep fishing!