Winter comfort leads to more fish
Winter fishing can yield some of the best fishing of the year, but in order to enjoy your day on the water, it pays to be prepared for the weather. One of the most important factors for an enjoyable and safe day on the water is clothing.
Being an avid winter angler, I have tried about every type of cold-weather clothing you can imagine. I’ve tried coveralls, insulated bibs, parkas, mittens, battery powered heated gloves and several other gimmicks. Most work to fight the cold, but not all of them work best for me. Though coveralls or a heavy parka are warm, I find them too restrictive to be comfortable while fishing. I prefer several layers of lighter gear.
To keep my feet comfortable, I like a pair of heavy wool socks and a pair of insulated boots. I prefer light to medium insulation in my boots with some type of waterproofing. Snow boots and heavily insulated boots have proven too cumbersome for me to operate the boat and maneuver about the deck.
I like a heavy pair of jeans under a pair of fleece sweatpants, beneath rain suit bibs. Then for the upper body I use a long-sleeve undershirt (usually a turtleneck) followed by a crew neck sweatshirt. The next piece of clothing I find important is a pullover wind shirt. This is crucial to cut the wind, especially when running down the lake. On top of this I wear a hooded sweatshirt covered by a hooded jacket. An important advantage to such layering is the ability to shed layers as the day warms.
A stocking cap or full-face, knitted mask are a must. I like the full-face, turkey-hunting hood myself. The hooded mask with sunglasses to protect your eyes from wind and cold work well, however a full faced helmet is a good item to keep handy.
Gloves are an ongoing challenge for me. I have some hunters mittens with a fold-over finger covering that works well, but sometimes even with these my fingers tend to get quite cold especially when handling fish. In this case I use brown jersey gloves for fishing. They are fairly inexpensive so I keep several pairs
in the boat for when they get wet. I switch to a heavy pair of insulated gloves when running the boat. Also disposable hand warmers inside the gloves help, although I rarely use them. Just try different options until you find what works best for you. One problem I find when fishing with gloves is that they are all hook magnets. I still haven’t come up with a solution for this. Just have patience.
I stronly advise a full life jacket not only for flotation but it also serves
as a wind barrier. Also important is a bag with dry clothes such as: sweats, socks, stocking cap, a towel and extra gloves. Hopefully you won’t need these extra clothes, but in case of an emergency they can save yours or someone else’s life.
Dressing properly can not only make your winter outing more comfortable, it can increase your chances of catching more fish. Don’t let cold weather stop you from having some of the best fishing of the year.