It’s been said before that if you can find somebody who fishes in winter then you have found a true fanatic. ‘Fanatic’ doesn’t even come close to describe anybody who prescribes to that kind of madness! Winter fishing is not for the faint of heart but the rewards can be well worth the effort. Fishing, particularly anchoring up and bait fishing, can be fairly sedentary at times. The fastest route to an early end to the day is to succumb to the cold so with that in mind I would like to walk you through my top five tips for winter fishing and hopefully they will prolong your day on the water and enhance your experience.
- Tsangpo – I use the Tsangpo suit but I will spare you all an image of me wearing it! A good baselayer will add many hours to your day on the water. This suit is soft, it’s stretchy, it’s fleecy and it keeps me warm. I’d be lost (and very cold) without it. The two way zipper design is a stroke of genius too, you’ll know what I mean when you need it! This piece of kit really makes a day on the water a whole lot more comfortable.
- Cold feet – isn’t this the reason a lot of people back out of a lot of things? The Tsangpo suit can be complimented perfectly with the Tsangpo socks! Double up your protection with the Nova boots. Lined with a thermal layer and coupled with the socks they will go a long way towards keeping your feet warm on those days designed to make toes drop off!
- Cold hands – this is usually what kills me; frozen fingers. I am loath to wear gloves when I am fishing. I’m yet to find a pair that offer me the dexterity I need for making rigs, baiting hooks, tying knots, etc. The Current mitts are a great solution to this problem. They keep my hands warm with their windproof outer and fleece lined inner when I am paddling but they allow me to expose my fingers for more finesse work when fishing. This gives me the best of both worlds and for backup I keep a gel handwarmer in each pocket of my PFD.
- Mind your head – with the highest rate of heat loss from the body occurring form the neck upwards it makes sense to keep your head and neck covered up. Once again, the Tsangpo comes to the rescue with a fleece lined beanie hat. This would probably fit on underneath a helmet if I needed to wear one but I’m not aggressive with my fishing style just yet! I also wear a scarf, a token from a visit to the Middle East. It’s light, covers my face in multiple layers to trap heat and it has the extra advantage of concealing my identity if I catch nothing.
- Cuppa – the ability to be able to fire up a brew is the kind of thing that can keep you going for another few hours. I carry a small petrol stove and brew kit and the inner warmth that this provides cannot be underestimated. Brewing requires landing on the shore because hot stoves on plastic kayaks is just asking for trouble. A flask is also a great alternative to a stove but I have tainted the few I have by using them to keep frozen bait frozen. Besides, the tea always tastes ‘funny’ from a flask.
- Heated seats – this one is for the trip home. It is an absolute luxury but one that I look forward to when fishing in winter. A quick flip of the switch and you are as warm as can be within minutes of starting the long drive home.
We all have our own little tricks for keeping warmer during the cooler months of the year and this is what has worked for me for the past couple of winters. Failing that you could always stay at home by the fire but where’s the fun in that?