For the hardcore angler, there is no such thing as “fishing season” because we never stop as long as there is open water. Winter trout fishing can be great fun, but you need to dress properly. It’s easy to do. Here are a few tips to keep you fishing through the cold months.
By dressing in layers you can keep your core body temperature warm. As the temperature changes through the day you can add or shed layers. Start with a good base. I’m a big fan of wool. I think it’s more comfortable than synthetics, and it’s warm. For the coldest days I will use a synthetic base with a wool base over it. Next you’ll add your middle layer for insulation. Depending on how cold it is you may use a couple middle layers. Goose down is a good insulator, and is a great layering piece because it is compressible. The down sweater from Patagonia is a classic. If you need another mid-layer, add a fleece jacket. The last layer is your shell. It keeps you dry and blocks the wind. The Simms Guide Jacket is one of the best out there.
Most body heat escapes through your head, so it’s important to wear a hat to keep that locks in that warmth. Additionally, your facial extremities, the nose and ears, need to be covered. If you have a little nose and ears that don’t stick out far you might be ok. I have a big Pinocchio nose and ears that stick out at a 90 degree angle, so I wear a wool ski mask (balaclava) that covers my whole head and neck.
3. Protect Your Hands
This is where it gets tricky. How do you keep your hands covered and warm when you’re using them to fish? It’s not easy. I use two pairs of gloves. The first pair are wool fingerless gloves. They’re fingerless so I can tie flies on and remove hooks, and wool because they’ll keep my hands warm even if they get wet. The next pair are convertible mittens. I’m not gonna lie, it takes some practice to get used to fishing with these on. However, your day probably won’t last long if you don’t have them. I take the convertible gloves off and on, but I always keep the wool gloves on. You can also use those little hand warmer packets. They can come in handy if you get yourself in trouble. I always bring them in case of emergency.
If I do everything else right, my feet are usually what do me in. They’re not like your hands where you can take them out and rub them together and blow on them. Short of layering a couple socks there’s not much else you can do. I like Fox River socks, and they’re made here in Iowa. This year I think I’ll try the foot warmer packets.
Other than dressing well, my other advice is to bring a warm beverage. I always fill my Stanley mug with hot coffee. A nip of Iowa’s Templeton Rye whiskey can help warm you up as well.