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Crutches or not, fishing is doable with help from friends

by: David Coulson 12/10/2012

The following was published in the Explorer Section of the Fort Collins Coloradoan on Sunday, December 9.

Sometimes we donít realize what have until we lose it.  Iíve always taken walking for granted. While being on crutches is a temporary situation, it has changed my perspective on mobility. 

Simple daily activities, such as my daily shower, are now minor projects.  The short walk from the parking lot to the office feels like a trek.  Trips to stores, especially busy ones, are exhausting adventures. 

I now have a greater appreciation for efforts to remove barriers for those with disabilities.  While doors are not serious barriers to me, automatic doors make things a lot easier.  Further, curb cuts are easier to negotiate than curbs.  And Iím a bit envious of handicap parking spaces as Iím gimping across parking lots.

My fishing success over Thanksgiving motivated me to try it again, this time with a fly rod.  I just needed to figure out where, as Cody and Bill agreed to join me and provide support, both figuratively and literally. Given the abundance of waters in the area, I didnít figure it would be  much of an issue to find somewhere to go. Not so.

Float tubes are out as cold water dictates waders.  But they wonít fit over my air cast and, even if they would, there is the problem of wearing fins.  Iím sure trying to kick in them wouldnít be good for my tweaked ankle. 

A kayak might work, but mine isnít dry, so the wader issue crops up again.  Not to mention I swim only slightly better than a rock. Thus, the risk of falling off with a cast on my leg just doesnít seem like a good idea.

I donít have a boat.  Maybe I could talk Matt into taking his out, but we typically fish standing.  Given Iím having enough problems staying upright with crutches on level, solid ground, trying it on a rocking platform would be challenging to say the least, so Iíll pass on that option for now.  

No issue, there is plenty of shore fishing to be had.  All I need is to be able to get to the waterís edge with crutches.  That eliminates any shore with steep drop offs, rocky shore lines, heavy brush, or other such obstacles.  Further, it would be good if the shore is firm enough to support crutches without sinking in. And, of course, wading isnít an option. Further, handicap access areas are of no use right now as most are built to give access to the water when the reservoirs are full, so most handicap structures are high and dry at this time.  And the final constraint is the water should be fairly close to the parking area.  Long hikes arenít an option.

Ultimately, I decided that we should give Wellington #4 a try as it has plenty of gentle shore line and, if full, the shore had the potential to be firm.  Plus, it has been recently stocked so catching should be good.  If conditions werenít right there, I figured we could swing over to Douglas and fish off the boat ramp, or head back to town and maybe fish City Park. 

Turns out we ended up fishing both Wellington #4 and Douglas. The bad news is Wellingtonís shore is muddy.  Dealing with mud isnít a lot of fun ever, but even less so with crutches.  The good news is I found that I can fly fish fairly effectively while on crutches and even managed to hold my own on the catching front, landing a perch, bluegill, and several trout.  Just shows that where thereís a will, thereís a way to overcome oneís adversities, especially with a little help from friends.


Bill fly fishing Wellington #4
One of my "crutch" fish from Douglas
Blog content © David Coulson
Member comments
lewdog, CO   12/10/2012 10:08:34 AM
I feel ya on all that above. I busted my tib/fib last year and it can be brutal doing easy stuff. Glad to hear you got out to fish open water again this year.
JKaboom, CO   12/13/2012 8:42:37 AM
So you didn't need to have Bud make you a rod holder afterall LOL. Good deal that you're still getting out :)
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO   12/13/2012 12:43:04 PM
The process isn't all bad getting to the water, and two crutches under one arm works while casting, what is really need is a beer kookie mounted on the crutches, as carrying a drink is near impossible.
Lone Ranger, CO   12/27/2012 8:46:58 PM
You also proved you can work a couple of weekends ago at BPS for C.A.S.T. and we appreciate the fine article also! Hope you continue your recovery and have a great New Year!
David Coulson
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