Swimming the Sound

After my encounter with the attacking red crab, I continued down the beach following the ebbing tide.

The basic approach on beach fishing is to cast more or less perpendicular to the beach, then at about 45-60 degrees, then roughly parallel to the beach. The theory is that with the fly swinging through the current, the three (or more) casts will have covered the area, and the multiple casts will have provided any fish or fishes with multiple looks at the same fly.

Then one moves down the beach in the direction of the tidal current.  Distance is typically around half the distance of the parallel cast.

Repeat the process from above as many times as needed to walk the entire beach and offering the fly (or flies if switching) along the way.

Of course, that sometimes means leaving the water and walking up to the logs at the top of the beach for a rest period or to switch flies, and often most important – heed nature’s call.

An important point.

People may wade up to their waists (or higher) in a stream, but in fishing the Sound one never goes deeper than one’s knees, and often not even that deep. First, searuns (if they’re around) are not that far out – so even casting from the beach itself can be productive. Second, this is big water with strong currents even close to shore and it can be dangerous if one is careless and thoughtless.

I was both.

Picture this. You’re facing the Sound casting your rod. Now you have to leave the water. How to do that?

Just like in crossing a stream or dealing with any moving water, one should turn to face the current. I’ve known to do that since the beginning of my fishing career in fresh water streams.

However, today (as I recognized I had done a few times recently), I started to turn downstream.  And that’s when I paid for my mistake.

I was in water only slightly below my knees. There was a current, but it didn’t feel as strong as I’ve experienced at Purdy.

Nonetheless, as I turned my balance wasn’t right – only one foot should move at a time with the other fully weighted.

I felt myself losing my balance – even being careful, the cobbled beaches have enough rocks that momentarily feeling a loss of balance can be common. Most times, one recovers, thanks the spirit of the Sound, and moves on.

Not this time – down I went. I had thought I’d catch myself only going in to my waist. But with the current I rolled in with with even my face submerging. There was a moment of temporary panic as I thought this shouldn’t be happening. I managed to hold onto my rod and came up into a kneeling position and panted for a minute or so. I knew I was lucky, but I could feel the water inside my waders.

The belt on the waders should have kept the water above my waist, but it was stretchy and with the rolling I guess it couldn’t keep a good seal. This was the most dangerous aspect of this, as enough water could flow into the legs to keep you down (another reason for not wading too deep in the Sound).

I then stood and made my way up to the nearest log. I was soaked. After some consideration of best choices (admittedly none were great), I took off my waders and drained the water in them, wrung out my shirt and pants (it was a deserted part of the beach so standing in my undershorts wasn’t a big deal). Emptied the water from my non waterproof pack – everything was soaked, including my iPhone (Fortunately I had my wallet and electronic key fob in a waterproof envelope).

After putting on my clothes, and then the wading boots (without the neoprene booties they were like wearing a giant’s shoes – my feet in wet socks slid around) and carried everything the roughly quarter mile back to the parking lot.

Arriving at home, I surveyed the damage:  cuts and scratches on my right hand (none serious); a few small dings on my fly rod’s blank (none serious); everything in my pack soaked (requiring a few days to dry out); fortunately – wallet and car fob are kept in a waterproof envelope and suffered no damage; but unfortunately, iphone was in wader’s pocket so cracked screen and water in charging port.

I replaced my iPhone 11 with a iPhone 14 the same day.

It may seem perverse, but I was glad no one was around to see any of this.  Mistakes like this can be embarrassing.

I came away with some lessons re-learned.

1. Never turn away from tidal current when entering or leaving the water.

2. Always be in a position of balance before moving and move only one foot at a time.

3. Ensure everything that isn’t waterproof is protected at all times; personally I’m going back to my waterproof pack.

Author: Tom

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