To Boot or Not to Boot?

Terry Neal
To Boot or Not to Boot?
For the past thirty years I've spent most of my waking hours wade fishing the Lower Laguna Madre. Not until recently have I been able to do that without worrying about stingrays. I've worn some kind of protection ever since Paul Perrin hit the market with his original Walk & Wade products back in the 1980s, but not until recently has someone developed a boot and legging that is the real thing.

What lots of fishermen don't realize is how close they have come to being a statistic. If you're catching fish, the chances are very good you've got rays cruising around, checking out the action. They are very curious critters. The ForEverlast boot has taken the biggest part of the risk out of getting hit! I've heard all the excuses for not wearing themNONE are valid.

Dos & Don'ts

–Don't let the weight of the ForEverlast boots scare you off when you try them on in the store. Their buoyancy almost neutralizes them when you are wading.
–Buy a size larger than your normal shoe size for wet wading. I wear light nylon socks inside mine. Lots of folks wear neoprene socks which is also good. Go up two sizes with waders.
–I recommend leaving the top of the boots very loose, the zipper up about halfway, the Velcro strap very loose or even un-done. I also wear the top buckle strap very loose, adjusted all the way to the end.

If you have very large calves like I do, you might want to wear long pants tucked into the tops to keep from chaffing. Wearing the boot loose like this also allows you to get out of it just incase you get impossibly mired in soft mud. This has never happened to me but you never know.

Stingrays have a series of sensors located on their mouth that help them locate fish activity, fish feeding, fish fighting, schools of mullet, etc. Any time you find increased fish activity you will likely also find stingrays.

Stingrays as a rule are not aggressive. When you hear of someone getting hit by one, more than likely he (stingray) was only defending himself.

"Joe was just standing still," you say. Actually this is highly unlikely. More than likely Joe took a small step or at least shifted a foot. Stingrays, like to settle on the bottom, not bothering anyone. And, they are fond of the murky water at a wade fisherman's feet lying in wait for prey. Then some big blob tries to squash him and their natural reaction is to whip the tail to get the blob off.

The good old stingray shuffle has worked for years, but if you wade, you are pushing your luck. There are simply too many variables to rely on the shuffle method of protection.

What should you do if you get hit? Standard procedure recommended by doctors is to immediately flush the wound as well as you can. You want to soak the wound in HOT water as quickly as possible. A collapsible bucket works real good, taking water from the cooling system "tattletale" of an idling outboard motor.

Reaction to the hit will vary, some very painful, others not so bad. Regardless, your next action should be going to your local E.R. to get on antibiotic and to make sure all the barb is removed and wound gets properly cleaned.

Wade fishing is more popular in Texas than any other state. So naturally, Texas probably experiences more hits than any place in the world, so your doctors will know what to do. I can tell you stories from personal experience as well as from several customers, some good and others not so good. We just don't want it to happen again to anyone.

You can eliminate these problems if you wear protection. There are many products on the market but, personally, I favor the ForEverlast Ray-Guard wading boots with the shields attached. Lately I see more customers getting on the boat with some kind of protection. (Some good, some not so good in my opinion.) Bottom line here; if you can easily pierce the material that is supposed to protect you with little force from a sharp instrument, you are not going to be very well protected.

Everything offered here is from my own personal experience and from guiding wade fishermen for many years. Nothing here has been solicited nor have I been paid to say it.

Good fishing and safe wading,

Terry Neal Fishing Guide Port Mansfield, TX