Rescuers pay price of foolishness

By Peter Shutt - South Canterbury | Saturday, 10 January 2009

I'M not going to get into an argument about whether tourists should take out insurance to cover the cost of their rescue, but would just note that my real concern is seldom spoken of the emotional cost that must accrue with the family of every rescuer who puts his/her life on the line or spends time to rescue someone who is being less than sensible in their on-water activity.

How might one define "sensible?" That's difficult, but a jetboat death where radio reporters suggested the craft was exceeding the 5 knot speed restriction might be less than sensible, and two adults without life jackets taking a toy blowup boat filled with beer bottles on to a lake is another that springs to mind.
After witnessing the discoloured water in the Rangitata River over Christmas, I would suggest that rafting without life jackets was also an avoidable risk.
It's the SAR people I feel sorry for, along with the disruption of their Christmas holiday activities.* * * * *
There are any number of nymph-fishing strike indicators available, but one of the easiest to attach (and probably the cheapest), is wool yarn.
I favour wool yarn because it is easily moved along the leader, to approximate a distance about 1.5 times the depth of the water I wish the nymph to work.
It's an ideal method for spring creeks and small streams.
The size of the yarn can be whatever you feel is necessary to ensure you can see it. Normally, a well teased piece of yarn about four centimetres length will be ideal. When doubled and snagged with a running knot it can be trimmed and teased to look like a colourful small smudge on the water.
Some commercial indicators are extremely colourful and therefore easy to see, but they can land heavily upon the water and in turn create an intrusion in the world of a wily trout. The trout is spooked and your chance of a good catch is lost.
Coarse textured yarn works best. Use a floatant fluid or paste to dress the indicator and keep a close eye on its drift within the feedlane.
Colour choice is unimportant, although white mixes with the natural foam on the water and makes it harder to observe. Light red or yellow works well.
The purpose of using an indicator is to see when a fish is mouthing the nymph. Unless you recognise that activity, the fish will have tasted the nymph and turned away. It's likely you will see a white flash as the fish turns, but never feel a bite.
When the indicator diverts from the natural drift path through the pool, or stops abruptly, it's time to lift the rod tip without delay, and set the hook. You know that with a dry fly you have to wait until the fish has started his return to the depths before striking, but with a nymph, the moment of truth is the moment when the indicator stops abruptly.
But now you are asking how to tie the yarn indicator to the leader? Just form a small (four centimetre diameter) circle in the leader at the point you want the indicator to be. Then, while holding the circle in your left hand push a couple of centimetres of the adjacent (butt end) line up through the circle to form a vertical loop. Thread the indicator yarn through the new loop that has appeared above the circular piece and slowly draw both ends of the leader taut. The indicator yarn should be snagged underneath the top loop, and against the bottom circle.
To move the yarn to another position, just push the loop through to release the yarn and reform the circle and loop at the new position.* * * * *
Oregon State University scientists report the highest number of juvenile Chinook salmon seen since sampling began a decade ago. The water is said to be the coldest reported since 1955, and it's thought this has drawn more biomass into the water.
"The huge cold water influx in the ocean has produced a biomass situation not seen on this scale in years," say the scientists.* * * * *
Water has been at the centre of a number of deaths over the holiday period, and in some of the instances I have read, the cause has been something that has made an instantaneous reaction necessary if avoidance is to occur. That places a lot of reliance upon reaction time and provides no space for inattention.
There are regulations for all boating waters, and like the road code, they are there to ensure safe boating.
Your experience might not be in question it's what someone else does that causes the accident. Yeah, right! Can you really claim to know the regulations and always abide by them?
Of course not. We all fail occasionally, but the wearing of life jackets and observing the passing and speed regulations, along with knowledge of areas of the lake that are set aside for special activities are first essentials for a happy holiday. Relying on an instantaneous reaction to avoid hitting another water user is not a good policy.
I have just returned from Central Otago, where boats and jetski enthusiasts should be well aware of recent water accidents. But I'm not convinced when I see small craft on a very rough lake or a powerful jet ski racing between water skiers.