Orvis: Understanding the risk of cold water

Make no mistake prolonged exposure to cold water can kill you.

Back 15 years or more I was wade guiding 2 anglers on Beaver tailwater, on an 70F degree late spring day. The novice of the pair was requiring more attention than his more experienced buddy, so he was left unattended longer than normal. I figured while he was happily catching fish there wasn’t too many problems, when the rate slowed I waded downstream, to find an angler barely able to talk, through chattering teeth and visibly shaking.

“Ive got a hole in my waders, maybe bigger than I thought.” I basically had to drag this guy to the warm sunny gravel 20 feet away and strip him down, fetching a towel and some dry clothing from my vehicle.

It was a startling lesson for a guide that even at low flows, tranquil tailwaters can catch out the unwary.

Drew Price, writing for Orvis Master Class, has an excellent article on the risks of cold water fly fishing. It’s written for spring time freestones, but remember the White River tailwaters are under 60F for most of the year, even when the banks are in 100F heat

Orvis Pro Tips: Understanding the Risks of Cold Water Can Save Your Life