On Saturday in my local area, an angler went missing after he fell into the Slippery Rock Creek in McConnells Mill State Park. Officials & search crews are still searching for him. The high water & rain have made for conditions that are impossible for divers to search for him consistently, as the stream is approximately 2 1/2 feet higher than it's normal high flows for this time of year.
All this rain has made streams burst at their seams & made fishing difficult. Still, the conditions are not going to keep die hard anglers away from the water, so I ask that you please consider a few things when you're near the water. First, the high water may be deceivingly slow flowing & deep. Areas that you know well will have changed (sometimes dramatically) because of the high volume of water. These changes to the stream bed can cause water to flow differently than you're past experiences have showed you. As a result, you can quickly be taken off guard by the change of water flow. Plus - & I can't emphasize this enough - you must NEVER under-estimate the power & force of moving water!!! I don't care if you're the strongest person in the world - moving water is stronger than you are & you should treat it with respect. Water accidents usually happen very quickly, giving you little time to react. The best way to prevent a water accident is to use common sense & think about what you're doing before you do it. Also, if you're fishing alone, let someone familiar with the area know where you will be & when you'll be there.
The PA Fish & Boat Commission has pointers for wading safely. Among them are:
- Wear a life jacket
- Use a wading staff
- Carry a whistle with you
- Shuffle your feet carefully
- Take one step at a time
To read more about wading safety, click HERE.
Our thoughts & prayers are with the missing angler's family & loved ones & for the safety of those brave men & women who are conducting the search. Hopefully, you will practice safety when you go fishing & will take time to think about the moves you will make in & around the water. Remember, if you don't have to wade to get to the fish - then don't get in the water at all. Let's all put safety first. We don't want to read anymore tragic stories like the one mentioned above.