Danger in the Backcountry – Steps to Stay Safe on Your Fishing Trip

Fishing in the backcountry is normally a pretty mellow affair. That said, there are plenty of variables that can turn any trip into an emergency situation. The prepared prevail when things take a turn for the worst. 

These are some of the things that guides at Lazy J Bar O Outfitters are prepared for on every trip. If you’re planning your own backcountry fishing adventure, taking a few simple precautions can save you a ton of trouble on your next trip.

Training 101 – Take the time to train before your trip. A few hours of hands on course development can literally save lives. Start with a simple first aid and CPR certification course to build confidence and learn critical skills. Move on to wilderness first aid and swift water rescue courses to take a deeper dive. Learning the art of a z-drag or splint in the wilderness puts you in the lead on your trip. 

These skills don’t come easy and are hard earned through the courses but they are well worth the sweat equity. Swift water rescue is especially physical and requires learning how to subdue and rescue resisting people in live and stressful situations. 

Lightening is Serious – I’ve led several fly fishing trips where lightening was an issue. Eager anglers often overlook the greater concern and fish through approaching lightening. Do not make this mistake. States like Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona are especially prone to lightning strikes during the monsoon rain season. Avoiding lightning is simple, get off the water and stop fishing. Storms typically pass over in an hour or two. Jump into the woods, hunker down, eat some snacks and ride out the storm.

Backup Plan – Take a big safety net along for the worst-case scenarios. Having a tracker and an insurance plan can save your life and future finances. For the crew at Lazy J Bar O Outiftters, Garmin InReach systems provide easy remote communications and emergency assistance. Personal locator beacons have saved thousands of lives as well. Today’s satellite systems allow for regular messaging across most of the world and the beacons emit an emergency signal that is widely recognized.

Watch out for Bears – Bears are always a topic of conversation but a simple injury or infection is far more dangerous. Use bear proof food containers, keep a clean camp and keep your eye out for any potential encounters. Keep some bear spray handy just in case as well. Guns are great for the practiced and experienced but spray casts a wider net and is more effective for those of us who are not quick draws. Floating makes it easier to spot bears and avoid encounters. Check the banks before pulling over and your odds of missing a chance meeting are pretty good.


Summer adventures with Lazy J Bar O Outfitters include guided fly fishing, drop float trips and progressive horseback trips in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. Check out LazyJBarO.com/Summer. If you’d like to know more, send us a message or call us at 406-932-5687.