Ontario Fishing Network
Staying Warm when Cold Weather Fishing
In autumn and winter anglers should ensure they are properly dressed for cold weather conditions. I'm astounded, and slightly envious, of the anglers I see wearing jeans who are able to fish the entire day in cold temperatures. Although they tough it out, I'm confident they would be more comfortable if outfitted with proper clothing and were dressed in layers. Choosing the right clothing, along with accessories that will help keep you warm, is an important consideration when heading out fishing because if you're not comfortable, you're not mentally focused and you'll miss fish - it's that simple.
The fact that damp clothes cause one to loose heat raises an important note regarding outdoor clothing. Clothes containing cotton should be avoided, as this material will absorb moisture instead of wicking it. Many can relate to the chill feeling caused by damp clothing against the skin, and how quickly it can cool you down. Instead of cotton, look for inner layer clothes containing polyester, silk and wool blends.
A mid layer is the next part of the layering system. They provide insulation, while still wicking moisture away from the body. Fleece, wool, polyester and other synthetic blends are mainstay fabrics for these clothes. Mids come in various thicknesses, or weights, depending on the amount of insulation required. They are often classified as light, mid and heavy-weight. In some cases it's better to wear two sets of mid-weight layers instead of one heavy-weight to give you more layering options to regulate your temperatures.
The outer layer of your system provides protection from wind and rain. High-end outer layers (often featuring Gore-Tex) will also breathe, allowing the moisture that's trapped inside your clothes to escape, but preventing outside moisture from getting in. Also keep in mind that layering clothing doesn't just apply to shirts, jackets and pants. You should ensure you take precautions to wear socks, mitts or gloves, and hats that all will wick moisture, insulate, and block wind and water. Discussing proper boots for cold weather conditions is a separate article on its own, but do yourself a favour and invest in quality boots. Your feet will thank you.
As an added bonus, suits do an excellent job blocking wind and rain. I have found the most difficult part of wearing these suits is not wearing too many layers when I'm active at the start of a fishing excursion. Otherwise, I find I quickly overheat and need to shed layers. The best approach I've found for late open water fishing and ice fishing, is to wear only a light inner layer under the suit when I'm moving around (launching the boat, setting up rods, drilling ice holes, etc), but once I'm stationary for a while, I add on mid-layers to ensure I have enough insulation.
Bring Extra Clothes
Another simple, but effective, way to stay warm is to ingest hot drinks and meals. A small portable stove and pot is a great accessory to prepare warm meals on a daylong ice fishing outing. A mid-afternoon snack of hearty soup or chili will boost blood sugar levels and add warmth to your body's core. Similarly, carrying a thermos full of hot-chocolate, coffee or herbal tea will help keep you warm. It is also important to ensure you stay hydrated when outdoors; dehydration will undermine many of your body's natural functions to stay warm, so drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
Having the proper clothing is crucial to comfort and safety when cold weather fishing. Not only will using a layering system and bringing some portable heating options keep you cozy while fishing, but staying comfortable keeps you mentally alert and ready to set the hook. If you're chilled and frustrated at being cold, you will simply not be as alert when fishing, inevitably equating to lost fish.
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Staying Warm when Cold Weather Fishing
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