Dressing For Cold Weather Fishing

By Capt. Steve Chaconas

In cold weather months dressing for fishing conditions is complicated. Finding the right layers can make or break a winter's day on the water.

From the bottom up, cold feet can throw cold water on the best-laid cold weather fishing plans. Showing up in 35-degree weather with sandals always receives a second look ... 'Really, you really do wear TEVAs in the winter!?' Here's the "how and why" on sandals keeping feet warm. It’s all about circulation. Warm body-core-blood never reaches most sock layered feet, which are jammed into shoes for a tight fit. They create a tourniquet blockade preventing toes from benefiting from the body's natural heating system.

Foot Protection

Loosening straps on open-toed Teva sandals provides room for specially prepared feet. Start with a silk sock, followed by a thin wool sock, and the outermost layer is a SealSkinz Chillblocker waterproof sock. The first layer allows a bit of insulation, the second a bit of warmth and the outer layer keeps the elements, precipitation and air chill at bay. Keeping feet warm is a participation effort! The sandal system only works when the wearer takes note of toes feeling the chill ... an occasional toe wiggling sends a surge of warm blood to toes and allows cold blood to return to the furnace!

Hand Protection

For hands ... Grabber hand warmers activated to occasionally warm hands. For gloves, there are two: to keep the wind chill off skin new Sveltz gloves from the makers of SealSkinz are just enough to keep hands away from cold reels and rods, providing a good grip with rubber gripper dots on the hand surface. For the coldest conditions, SealSkinz Chillblocker gloves free hands from the cold grip of winter. Another tip ... pull fingers from the gloves and keep in the palm of the gloves and allow them to work free in the "mitten" of the glove until circulation takes over.

Outer Layers

After that, a good Gore-Tex rain suit is the perfect outer shell. For pants, Wrangler makes a great fleece lined jean. Under that, a thin pair of long johns. Preferably a wicking synthetic, especially in the upper body layer. Redington's REDILAYER, a fast wicking material with anti microbial odor resistance, adds more airflow without an air about you. This piece zips up to cover the neck area…again a key to staying warm. Toss in a decent hoodie and a light layer over that. Top it off with a stocking cap to cover the ears and some grey-lensed Polarized Plus Maui Jim sunglasses to protect eyes from winter's glare! Add a bit of sunscreen and Chapstick and if it's still too cold, you should probably be home on the couch watching ball games.

Stay Hydrated

It's important to point out that dehydration can also occur in the winter. Drinking water throughout the day can prevent dehydration as well as contribute to keeping warm! Cut back on caffeine as it acts as a diuretic, and can contribute to the drying out!

Winter fishing is special as I received my first national exposure 20 years ago fishing a Silver Buddy. In addition to clothing, this time of year has many layers; friends, great fishing and a fondness for the season that helped me gain national recognition for what I do! A brief respite until my new Skeeter arrives, then it's back to work!