Cold weather and fishing, some love it, some hate it, but it can be a great time to catch some big bass. I love it! But it is not for the faint of heart. You have to dress to stay warm and still be comfortable. And you have to remember the dangers that this time of year presents. Prep is everything this time of year.
First, let’s start off with you need to prep yourself. This is where you can make or break a good day of fishing. Let’s start with clothing. Everything starts with a good base layer, the same as if you are hunting. Depending on how cold it will be, there are two choices to go with. A base layer or a thermal layer. Both have a moisture-wicking property which quickly wicks, or moves, sweat away from your skin, pulling the moisture through the fabric’s fibers. Once on the fabric’s outer surface, the moisture dries away quickly.
Moisture-wicking, as we know from summer fishing, helps keep your skin dry, allowing you to feel more comfortable. The sweat evaporating from your skin helps cool your body, which means keeping your skin dry so you don’t get sweaty chills. And when it is cold, the chills can ruin a day of fishing.
Thermals are a type of base layer, but not all base layers are thermals. Both types provide moisture-wicking, but the big difference between base layers and thermal layers is that thermal fabrics provide more warmth. And in the winter, when people think of layers of clothing, they think of warming up.
The purpose of a moisture-wicking layer is to remove sweat, not add warmth. For me, it is a combination of both, a good base with a thermal layer over them. This allows your skin to breathe and stay dry while holding the heat in. And from there, you add layers of warmth.
2)Secondly, and very importantly, one thing that doesn’t work well is having bulky layers. As the sun comes out and starts to warm you up, you need to be able to remove layers. You don’t want to remove a big layer that removes too much protection and leaves you cold. A smaller layer at a time allows you to remain comfortable and continue to enjoy your day of fishing.
3)The outer most layer can be just as important. This is the layer that will cut the wind, and it doesn’t have to be much to be a cutting cold wind. One thing I have found that works great is rain gear for that last layer. It cuts the wind and keeps you dry without being too heavy. And it also allows you to remove a layer under it and put it back on if you are too hot.
4)Fourthly is your extremities, your feet, your hands, and your head. You need special socks to keep your feet warm without overheating them, a fine line for sure. Thermal socks or wool socks? Every person is different as to their comfort with each fabric. But the main thing is to find what will keep your feet comfortable. Nothing will ruin a day of fishing like cold feet.
5)Your head is the area where the most heat escapes from your body. There are many types of hats that do the job. From a stocking hat or beanie to a trapper hat, everyone has a style they like. Just pick one that fits you. I like to wear a hat with a brim and put a beanie or stocking hat over it. Keeps my head covered and ears warm and allows me make adjustments, and the sun off my eyes.
6)The hands can be just as important. And there are many types on the market now. Some people prefer a full glove, some fingerless, and some a mixture of both. I love the Fish Monkey brand of gloves year round. My favorite is the Wooly for winter as I prefer to use half finger, but the Wooly Long offers the full fingers. Or there is the Task Fleece Fishing Glove. The main thing is to keep your hands warm and have fun!
7)And there is mental prep. Don’t laugh. We all know what it is to get ready for summer fishing, we know how to dress and deal with the heat. Winter fishing is no different. We need to be mentally prepared to deal with the cold, the slow fishing, and having less time to get it done. Changing baits in the cold is different, as your fingers are exposed to the cold. You have to be mentally prepared to deal with it all.
8)Lastly, we need to do some prepping of our gear. Make sure your line is in good condition. While it is important to keep a good check on your line all the time, now is really important. Cold weather can have an adverse effect on frayed line, causing it to break quicker. And you need to make sure to put on a line conditioner to keep your line supple. I chose Reelsnot for all my lines. And it is especially great in the winter as it helps shed water which in turn means less ice forming on the line. As the air temperatures hover around the freezing mark, it is also important to make sure to spray some on the eyes of your rod. Every thing to help.
Winter fishing can be a great time to find a monster bass. And a great time to find a personal best. But it is not for those faint of heart. It will be cold, the fishing can be very slow, and it can be so much fun. You just have to be prepared for everything that goes with winter fishing. And begin with the basics of staying warm and line prep! Stay warm and have fun!