night time safety

Fishing at night is possibly one of the most exciting and exhilarating pastimes. To be able to cast a fly in the dark when surrounded by trees and other undergrowth can be very rewarding - especially when the cast lands correctly and a fish takes. However, before any joy can be taken from this pastime it is necessary to consider several things, and I don't mean which line and fly!

Safety when angling is of utmost importance and fishing at night is no exception. One stumble in the dark, and a night being exposed to all the elements is not one any reasonable person would look forward to. With this in mind it is worth considering how you are going to travel about. Walking from pool to pool can be made much simpler with a torch. I'm not talking about some huge 1 million-candle power thing but a torch that fits neatly into a pocket giving a good light to see where you are going. I know many anglers feel confident in where they are going but who knows what as been done to the riverbank during the close season. So at torch is a must. When you are fishing a smaller penlight torch for tying flies onto leader and sorting out tangles is fine. Remember to see is everything.

When wading many anglers like to feel their way along the riverbed with their feet. This is fine if the riverbed is solid rock but when the riverbed is gravel, which can shift during winter floods it is not such a good idea. This brings us on to the topic of safety in the water. I personally use an inflatable fishing vest. It allows me to carry around all I need and at the same time could help me if I were to fall or slip when wading. My fishing vest inflates within 2 or 3 seconds and has a self-righting device. So should I be knocked out, then my face will be out of the water. These jackets can be quite expensive but when you realise the price of life the cost is unimportant. Wading at night is always
but an inflatable fishing vest, although it should not give you a false sense of safety, does mean you can concentrate a little bit more on your fishing and not having to worry if the next step you take will be your last!

The best advice for those fishing a new beat for the first time is to take a little time out once you arrive at the water to study it and, if you are lucky enough to be there during the day, take mental notes of the riverbed using Polaroid's. At least then you will have some idea of the riverbed and also where the fish may lie.

Lastly, fly-fishing at night can be hazardous once you have got yourself into position and are ready to cast. You have just tied on the latest big lure and are preparing to whip it back and forth around your ears. A big lure such as this, with a weight forward line, travelling at 60 to 70 miles per hour could easily catch an ear or eye and the shear shock and weight of the line can unbalance you in moving water. Therefore, wear a hat. It would get flipped off, fall in the river, and you are none the worse for wear - except for a wet head.

When wading any river it is essential to make a note of the river level. Not just from a fishing point of view but from a safety point of view. Fishing a river in its lower beats might mean you don't know of any rainfall further up the valley. A heavy storm at the head of a river could raise the river level considerably and a sudden flash flood could mean you are in trouble - so noting river height from both aspects is important.

These notes are merely meant as a guideline to help you make your fishing safer and thus more enjoyable. Remember - if you are not sure then don't do it, one slip can mean the difference between a lifetimes holiday and disaster.