Fishing in Cape Streams is synonymous with falling in. The old actors adage "break a leg" has been replaced by my fathers comment "hope you fall in the water", which more often that not happens. Mostly, falling in the water is a spectacular but undignified event, and because falls can be so creative, I have decided to try and categorise them. In all cases, the effect of falling in is two fold. One, the fish don't like it and bolt, and secondly a wet fisherman is not necessarily an efficient one
The overbalancing pirouette.
This classic maneuver is usually caused by too much forward speed. You step onto the rock you want to stand on, but your momentum carries you forward. However the deep pool in front of you means you cant keep going and so you try and turn around to go back, you cant so keep spinning. You execute the perfect pirouette but end up in the pool in front face first after going full circle. You realise there was a suitable rock just under the water, because your knee just found it.
The triple forward stumble.
You have just made a wide jump, and again have excess momentum. This time there is a rock in front of you, and you head for it. It required a bit more movement so you keep going to the next one. Out of the corner of your eye you see fish darting away. You get to the next one, which is just a little to far to one side, and ...... sploosh! Your pants start leaking blood in the shin area
The stuck foot slow motion fall
This is the most common one. You have spotted a fish and keep your eye on it while stepping forward, but the spot was a little deeper than you expected, but not to worry. You bring you next foot forward, but it wedges between two rocks, so you slowly fall to the side, watching the water coming up to face. You unwedge yourself and frantically dash downstream to collect your spilled gear
The wobbly rock face plant.
A familiar scenario, the big flat rock you just stood on is actually pointy underneath and you are in serious trouble. You aren't really falling yet, but your arms are windmilling like crazy, trying to get you to fly but it is not working. Eventually after what seems like an age, gravity wins and you you start going forward, slowly at first, but gathering sufficient momentum so that the water gives your face a good smack. It takes a while to get up and you wish you had a snorkel. The advantage of this fall is that your cuss words are muffled.
Fast water, foot wash dunker.
You have a narrow channel of water to cross, that is just too wide for one jump. All the water in the stream goes through here into a pool below and there is one high rock in the current. A quick dash across is required and you know you need to step a little upstream of that rock to hit it, as the water is fast.
The current is hopelessly underestimated and your foot is washed completely past it, and you follow your foot into the deep pool. In this case, no one is spared the cuss words that erupt when your head clears the water and you start stroking downstream to get your rod and hat.
The back step and upside down turtle.
Sometimes you want to move a little back, usually to execute a fantastic cast under a low hanging branch that will impress your partner. You step back and lose your balance, which is usually followed by another step back, and possible another. At times you could end up at the start of the beat before you lose you balance, which you inevitably will. You fall on your back, and invariably can't get up, you are on your back with your arms and legs waving about in the air, your rod floating downstream. The more your struggle to get up the more you look like an upside down turtle, especially if you have a big rucksack on.
The only impressing you do now, is the sound of your partners laughter, impressing itself on your brain.
Edging close to the bank around a deep pool, while trying to keep your family jewels dry you rely a bit too much on some handy vegetation. Either you are too heavy or the branch too weak, but the result is the same. A crisp 'crack' and your jewels and the rest of you are under water, rod in one hand and a branch in the other.
This one is special to streams or rivers with big smooth rocks. You are standing on a sloping rock just like the others you have stood on all day, and for some bizarre reason gravity grabs your feet and shoots them forward down the rock. It is so fast you land smack on your coccyx so hard you hear three cracks, the first is your coccyx breaking, and the second the pain exploding into your brain. Because you just reacted and tried to get your hands down to slow your descent the rod in your right hand took some of of the impact, and the breaking butt section was the third crack. This is an extremely painful maneuver and is not recommended for the novice faller. It is also extremely painful to watch.
Drown and across.
This is reserved for bigger streams or rivers and is a good reason to tie your hat on with a chin strap. You are usually waist high or deeper, and after making a cast towards the other bank you do a little misstep, only to find that the current is strong and that it is deeper than you are.
Proceeding to float downstream with your hat as the only indicator, your line snags on something, causing you to swing like a wet across the current to the other side.
This is best performed in front of a crowd.
The bank-slide nut cracker
Eddie Gerber described how he decided to bum slide down a gentle bank into the river. Halfway down his one leg went through a loop created by a tree root. This caused a sudden stop, with most of the stopping power being transferred from his family jewels. It would have gone a bit smoother if he were able to plunge the hurting bits in the cool water, but unfortunately he was trapped. He couldn't go up or down, as there was nothing convenient to pull himself up with and gravity kept in the grip of the root. Eventually some squirming and tricky maneuvers allowed him to free himself, but the lesson has been learned. Check for obstacles before sliding down an embankment.
Drew Kennedy's favourite fall is the splits. You are stepping from one slippery rock to the other and have slightly over-reach your forward foot. The result is that it keeps sliding forward, and at the same time you rear foot starts sliding backwards. You know you are in trouble when the seam of your pants start to groan, just before they rip.
Don't be deceived by rocks that appear flat. Sometimes they have just enough slope to get you sliding very slowly into the water. Eddie Gerber realised that lifting a foot to try and walk uphill results in an ungainly moonwalk that just gets you deeper. In vain you start to use your hands as oars, and as you get deeper its starts to look like a geniune doggy-paddle. There is no way out of this dilemma, so just go with the flow and start swimming.
Look at my new non-slip boots prat-fall.
Everyone knows that showing off while fishing is a sure way to invite trouble. Daryll Lampert says that the easiest way to fall is to show your fishing buddy how much grip your new boots have. You are sure to push the envelope just enough to reach critical mass whereby you become gravity's bitch.
This fall can also happen during a 'look-at-me-I-have-a-fish' moment.
Loose Rock & Roll.
This a slighhtly different take on the moonwalk, and usually happens when trying the exit the river up a gravelly bank. Every step forward sends you foot shooting back like you are trying to walk on marbles. Your steps keep getting faster until your body starts moving forward without your legs and you end up sliding down the slope in the push-up position. This is great for spectators, except those directly behind you.
All of the above maneuvers have been tested by me personally, except for the drown and across which was invented and field tested by Korrie Broos.
Mitigating measures are to use a wading staff and/or wading boots with good grip.