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How to Perform a Live Bait Rescue

One of the skills of becoming a better rescuer is being familiar with the technique called "Live Bait Rescue" and how to use this blow-away harness, or quick release harness, on our PFDs. Live Bait Rescue is an extremely valuable rescue skill and often may be in fact better or more appropriate than just standing on the bank with a throw bag.

The first step is making sure that our PFD is threaded properly. And there are a couple of different ways that we can thread this, including using the metal tri-glide and going straight through the plastic buckle. There are certain situations where it would be better to increase that friction with the tri-glide and other situations where we may want to reduce the friction and just go straight through the plastic.

Another key point in Live Bait Rescue is making sure that our positioning is correct. Our positioning should be with the rescuer who's going to enter into the water, should be upstream of our actual anchor point. The distance between rescuer and anchor point should be approximately the same distance as we believe that our subject is going to be away from shore.

The third part of Live Bait Rescue is the proper hand positioning that the rescuer is going to put on our subject. What we would like to do is grab on to their in-river shoulder by our shore-side hand. So we're reaching across to grab their inside shoulder. From there, we may reach back with our upstream arm to be able to grab the rope. So now our body is put in a very good ferry position, parallel to our line, to put less force on our anchor point as we pendulum into shore.


Live Bait Rescue is an extremely valuable rescue skill. In certain applications, it may be considerably more effective than just standing on the bank with a throw bag. When I see someone set up with Live Bait downstream, that may in fact give me a little bit more confidence that if I were to get stuck somewhere, let's say in a hole or hydraulic, that I have more likelihood of securely getting rescued and pulled out from there than just having people throw rope from shore.


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