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November 1, 2021

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Team Guidesly

10 Tips to Stay Warm and Safe During Winter Fishing

10 Tips to Stay Warm and Safe During Winter Fishing

Fishing during the wintertime is underrated. Most anglers would probably prefer fishing during spring or fall, when the fish are active either because it’s spawning season or they’re preparing for winter. Despite the preference for fishing in other seasons, there are still benefits to fishing during the winter. Fish during this season are at the fattest as they’ve stored loads of food and energy in order to get by during winter. Because fish are less active, another benefit of fishing during this time is the need to move around fishing spots, even more than usual. But with all the benefits of fishing in winter, there are still some precautions needed to be taken. The two most important things to consider when heading out on a trip are not going alone and keeping warm. Frostbite is a real thing and according to the U.S. Coast Guard, January and February sees the most fishing-related accidents throughout the entire year. 

Ways to Keep You Safe and Warm While Catching Fish in the Cold

1. Put on Some Layers

This may be common sense to most, but we can never be too sure. Putting on layers of clothing will definitely keep you warm. It’s good to pay a lot of attention when layering your bodies’ extremities like hands, feet, and ears. Overdressing is key when winter fishing. Whether it be putting on two layers of socks, or wearing a heavy scarf, you can never have too much on. It’s also easier to take off clothing rather than braving through the cold.

2. Use the Right Material

Putting on layers upon layers of clothing will be for nothing if thin pieces of clothing are used. Most anglers recommend the use of wool-lined clothing. There are also many outdoors-type jackets made of out heavy wool on the inside. Some clothing brands even use a special material that provides extra warmth. Other than wool, fleece is also a very good material to use. Both wool and fleece are easier to dry as well.

3.  Go Out on Sunny Days

Normally the best weather to catch fish is on cloudy days. Most times when the sun shines, fish either move to deeper parts of the water or find shade in order to escape the heat. Sunny days are also times where fish are less active in finding prey. All of these drawbacks to fishing with the sun shining may as well be void as fish in the winter are less active in general. When fishing in very cold temperatures, it’s good to cling on to as much heat as possible. Wearing darker colors can even help soak up some more heat from the sun. 

4.  Use Hand Warmers

Though named that way, placing hand warmers in between your hands and mittens aren’t the only place you can keep them. Hand warmers can be used on the feet, the neck, and many other parts of the body. Other than using hand warmers, it’s good to stock up on them in general. Keeping a healthy supply in case of emergencies will prepare you for the worst. Though having a lot on board may be good, it’s best to be prudent in its usage. Excessively using them is also not ideal. 

5. Keep Dry

It goes without saying but cold water can be very dangerous. The most susceptible area to look out for will probably be the fishing rod. As much as possible it will be good to keep the handle dry. Shoes are also something to look out for as they’re not something that can dry easily when wet. In general, it’s good to be wary of the water. Keeping a towel to pat yourself dry is definitely necessary. As mentioned above, many winterized clothing made of wool or fleece is easier to dry.

6. Invest in Waterproofing

It’s good to buy some waterproof gear that will lessen the chances of cold water getting in contact with the body. Though a little more expensive than patting dry, Gore-Tex is probably the most famous outdoor, waterproof clothing people can buy. When trying not to break the bank, there are a lot of waterproofing sprays found online or in outdoor recreational specialty stores. Though not as consistent as clothing made specifically to be waterproof, they are still very effective. 

7. Get Away from the Water from Time to Time

Though winter, in general, is very cold, being surrounded by ice-cold water can be a very different experience, despite keeping as dry as possible. While out and about on a trip, it can be a good idea to head back onto land and heat up a bit, before heading on out again. Being able to go in and out of water is also good as weather changes can happen frequently. There could be times during a break that the weather turns unfavorable, and sad as it may be, enough to cut the trip short. 

8. Learn How to Make Fire

Obviously, fire isn’t meant to be made onboard a boat. Learning how to make one can be very useful in case of emergencies. Fishing can be very spontaneous, and many times anglers are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Even keeping a small lighter is a good enough measure to keep sure that a heat source will always be available on-hand whenever possible.

9. Eat and Drink Hot Food

It’s always a good idea to bring a lot of food when out on a fishing trip. This sport consumes a lot of energy while being out in the open sea for hours at a time. In the winter it is good to bring hot food like soup or drinks like hot chocolate or coffee, to keep the body both warm and energized. Bringing hot beverages is great but never forget to stock up on plain water.

10. Never Go Out Alone

As mentioned before, fishing during winter can be both fruitful and dangerous. One slip can see an angler out in cold water, with layers upon layers of clothing, without anyone to help them. In terms of decision-making, having an extra person gives a 2nd thought when deciding important things like when to leave, or when to keep going. Having a friend on board, responsible for each other’s safety is something most anglers should have.

Winter Is No Joke

Like with fishing in any other season, safety is the number one priority. The cold is definitely the biggest obstacle to fishing during winter, but a prepared angler braves through it with ease. Of course, other than keeping warm, things like notifying other people of your location, having a phone on hand, and other things will help prevent unwanted scenarios. In the end, a great angler isn’t the one who catches the biggest fish, but the one who is most prepared.