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MISSION JIGS

Winter/Cold Water Safety

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Not trying to preach here, just a friendly reminder. I know several of us will be out and about when the real "cold" gets here and we start chase'n those cold water smallies, and striped bass and the rest of the cold water targets. Please remember to keep that life jacket on even while your fishing (I have a bad habit of take'n it off when I set the boat down) I keep it on in the winter all day (unless I have a brain fart) Also keep a change of warm clothes with you just in case the unexpected happens. Most of the time in the winter I never see another boat all day which is a good thing but God forbid if something was to happen I could be in a world of hurt. And if you can get a buddy to go along the better it is.... that way you can make fun of him when you out fish him and he can laugh at you "IF" you were to go in and he saves your hide. Just thought I would bring this up because I have been close to going in and been alone when it happened. Please be safe, your family needs you and you have many more trips of rip'n lips. A few minutes of prep will last a lifetime. Tight lines men, it's come'n soon.

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Great advice. I also want to add that you need to have a plan on how your going to get back in the boat before you fall in. Seconds do count when your in water temps around the freezing point and the shock of that cold water will slow your thinking process down. I have a trim switch on my motor and could step on the cavitation plate and trim the motor and myself up. I also have a swim platform and ladder on my new boat at the back. If I do fall in, I'm heading to the stern of the boat as quickly as possible.

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Great thread and great advice. I actually was very worried about this last winter. My old C Skiff has no ladder on the back or much of anything to stand on. So I looked around for something portable I could bring with me when fishing alone. I ended up buying one of these for about $50. I take it with me when I go out alone.post-31-1385217582836_thumb.jpg

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All very good advise guys, I used to jump out of my bass boat and swim in a big cove when I was about 20, it was very hard to get back in the boat after I was done. Now think about trying to do that when the water is bitter cold and you are bundled up in heavy clothes to the point your mobility is very limited, would be very hard without having a good game plan. The only other thing I would like to suggest is having some sort of a fire starter (just in case) you had to build a fire on the lake bank to stay warm or as a signal fire. if your boat was dead in the water, and you had to wait it out for help.

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Great advice. I also want to add that you need to have a plan on how your going to get back in the boat before you fall in. Seconds do count when your in water temps around the freezing point and the shock of that cold water will slow your thinking process down. I have a trim switch on my motor and could step on the cavitation plate and trim the motor and myself up. I also have a swim platform and ladder on my new boat at the back. If I do fall in, I'm heading to the stern of the boat as quickly as possible.

Very good advice, when I duck hunted I always got back in the boat by step'n up on the cavitation plate. I have been in some cold water with waders full of water No time to think, and you better be ready to react lucky for me the water was just deep enough for a dunk and I could stand up. Did watch a buddy of mine disappear in the Little T while duck hunt'n watched him walk back towards me after going after a wood duck turned my head then looked back and only seen a hat floating. He come up gasping for air in chest deep water. Just takes 1 second to be in a bad way.

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Same here, I came out of a boat on the Holston a few years back, 47 degree water don't take long to get cold, but it takes a long time to get warm.

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Boat flipped in Lake Moultrie a few years ago. Water temp was 55 or so. They made it about 3 hours before hypothermia got two of them. It is real and it will kill.

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I was with one of my buddies from the Fire Hall about 4-5 years ago on the Clinch River, first day of spring, spitting snow with a 10-12 mph "breeze" in the middle of summer that water is 55-58°, Todd flipped his kayak right below the island at the weir dam and we had to paddle back to the ramp at Millers Island, by the time we got back he was in pretty bad shape, his hands had stayed in the position where he was gripping his paddle. Luckily being a fireman at a VFD as well he had his bunker gear in the truck....He stripped down right there in the parking lot and put his fire gear on, if it was not for that and being in physical shape I'm sure we would have made the news. Great time to catch some good fish when it gets cold but it's a whole new ball game with hazards we don't think about sometimes. Thanks for stick'n this post.

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Preventing Hypothermia:

 

The end of the warmer weather doesn't have to mean the end of boating. Many boaters find that fall and even mild winter days are uncrowded and beautiful out on the water. But though the air may be pleasant, the water will be colder, and cold water kills. Many drowning deaths are caused by hypothermia - abnormally low body temperature -- not by water in the lungs.

 

Cold water robs the body of heat 25-30 times faster than air. When someone falls overboard, their core temperature begins to drop within 10-15 minutes. And the water doesn't have to be icy - it just has to be colder than you are to cause hypothermia.

 

The more energy someone spends after going overboard, the more quickly his or her body temperature drops, reducing their survival time. Wearing a life jacket adds to survival time in the water, not only by minimizing motion needed to keep afloat, but also by helping insulate the body.

 

If you suddenly find yourself in the water, don't panic because flailing around causes your body to lose heat a lot more quickly. Heads, necks, sides of the chest and groins are the body "hot spots" that lose heat most quickly and need to be protected the most.

 

The best way to prevent hypothermia is to stay in the boat, but should you fall overboard, these tips can help you survive:

    [*]Don't take off your clothes. Instead, button, buckle, zip and tighten collars, cuffs, shoes and hoods. If possible, cover your head- in cold water about half of heat loss comes from the head.

    [*]Devote all your efforts to getting out of the water. Act quickly before you lose full use of your hands. Board a boat, raft, or anything floating. Turn a capsized boat over and climb in; remember most boats will support you even when full of water. If you can't right the boat, climb on top of it.

    [*]Don't try to swim, unless it is to reach a nearby boat, another person or a floating object you can climb or lean on. By releasing warm water between your clothing and your body and sending "warm" blood to your extremities, swimming can cut your survival time by as much as 50 percent.

    [*]Even if it's painful, remain as still as possible. Intense shivering and severe pain in cold water are natural body reflexes. These will not kill you, but heat loss will.

    [*]If you're with other people, huddle together for warmth. Otherwise, hold your knees to your chest to protect your trunk from heat loss and clasp your arms around your calves.

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Just another tip, If I'm fishing alone I always have a heavy rope tied onto a cleat, just make sure that it's long enough to reach to the back cleat, but short enough not to reach the engine/prop. I leave it tied on ALL the time even during running. If I was to fall out of the boat and couldn't get up by the cavitation plate then I can reach up easily and tie it to the back cleat and use it as step to get back in. Practiced it this summer, just to be sure cleats would hold and worked great. Being able to use your legs to get you up is easier than trying to pull your body out with just upper body strength.

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If you have room in your boat, put a towel and some dry clothes in a waterproof bag. Sweatshirt, sweatpants, socks, etc... If you or a passenger falls into the drink, you'll have something dry to put on. If you don't have room in your boat, keep some gear in your car.

 

+1 on wearing a life vest at all times in cool/cold weather. Not only will it help keep you afloat, it provides extra insulation around your boy core.

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I pulled two drowning victims out, sadly both too late.

First one was 1968, Lake Quitman, Texas. Wife and I fished that small (800) acre lake a lot and slept I the back of our pickup. Constable knew us well. He tapped side of pickup camper after midnight and asked me to help find a body as his rescue boat was too wide to get in shallow, thick flooded timber and I had a narrow, 13' long original Skeeter. We found the guy, hung by his pants leg on his own trot line.

 

Second, and I hope the last, was in 1974 when I was guiding on Sam Rayburn. Again, I got the call way after dark. Cold front had blown on and some folks on Hwy147 bridge saw a boat go down trying to get back. Northwest wind had several miles to build up some big rollers by the time they reached that bridge. This time it was because I had a bigger boat than most. Most of us guides were using 16' Skeeters, Raycraft or similar. I had just changed up to a 17' Newman with high side and a deep gull wing hull. Again, too late. Both guys drowned and we didn't find them for a few days.

 

Believe me, seeing and touching a drowning victim will instill in you a strong respect for the dangers we usually don't realize. From 45 years ago, I still feel my gut wrench when thinking about it.

 

Even so, and being careful, I had a close one in 1983. Had a little 12' flat bottom to float an eight mike stretch of Village Creek between two road crossings in Texas' Big Thicket. It's a thick, wild swampland bottom and nowhere to go between roads. Had floated it several times, always in the winter. Cold, dreary day, stood up to stretch my legs just at the wrong time as my trolling motor hung on a log a few inches underwater. Log had enough give that boat's momentum and the current flexed it downstream a little, but then it snapped back just enough to flip me out. Instantly soaked and shocked by the cold water and already several feet down current of the hung-up boat. Luck was with me tho, and there were enough overhanging limbs I could pull from one to the next along the bank and got back to the transom and drug, flopped back in. Now really cold and scared by realization of how close that was. Plus I had another two or three hours of one-way only, downstream to the bridge crossing where my wife was to pick me up.

 

Too shallow and too many logs to run the motor much, but I cranked it and jumped a bunch. Finally got to the takeout and got a fire going. I wound up getting a bad ear infection from that water in my nose and ears and had several treatments for it, including antibiotics and ear lavages. Lavage is not to be experienced again; it's worse than a root canal.

 

Moral of my stories: absolutely be aware that cold water will do you in, especially if there's current and cold weather. Wear a life jacket. Have an emergency plan. Realize that it happens in seconds.

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Thanks for the tips. I always wear an inflatable PFD & pack a spare change of warm clothes once the water dips below 65 degrees.

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My tip--- clip/tie a pealess whistle on your pfd where it is out of the way, but easy to reach while in the water.  When you are in the water and cold, it is hard to yell and someone way off may not recognize a yell. The shrill sound of a whistle gets everybody's  attention, even from far away. 

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My tip--- clip/tie a pealess whistle on your pfd where it is out of the way, but easy to reach while in the water. When you are in the water and cold, it is hard to yell and someone way off may not recognize a yell. The shrill sound of a whistle gets everybody's attention, even from far away.

great idea
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I have a buddy who recommended some cold weather gear that you guys may want to check out. There is a video on the website (idigear.com) that shows this stuff will actually float you if you fall in. My buddy hasn't had his suit long but is pretty impressed by it so far. The brand mane is Artic Armor. I was considering purchasing some. Has anyone else tried this cold weather gear. Would be some nice insurance if you fell in the water.

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Same here, I came out of a boat on the Holston a few years back, 47 degree water don't take long to get cold, but it takes a long time to get warm.

Takes about a half second for your breath to go and the shocking realization hit that you might be in trouble.

Bought a canoe on sale dau after Christmas one year. The next day brother in law and I went up above Walland and put into the Little River after leaving takeout pickup several miles downstream. Figured a few hour float. What we didn't figure on was the dunking that occurred when we tipped only a half mile or so into it. Boy, what a chilly ride from then on! And even with pickup heater blasting, still cold. Got back to Steve's house and hot tub - never has hot water felt better. As the saying goes, chilled to the bone; you know it when you get there.

 

Just be safe and aware in cold water and cold weather.

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Just another tip, If I'm fishing alone I always have a heavy rope tied onto a cleat, just make sure that it's long enough to reach to the back cleat, but short enough not to reach the engine/prop. I leave it tied on ALL the time even during running. If I was to fall out of the boat and couldn't get up by the cavitation plate then I can reach up easily and tie it to the back cleat and use it as step to get back in. Practiced it this summer, just to be sure cleats would hold and worked great. Being able to use your legs to get you up is easier than trying to pull your body out with just upper body strength.

in the winter i tie my launch rope with the "loop" end that goes on my truck bumper to where it is a few feet in the water off the cleat to where i can put my foot in the loop to help get back up in the boat

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