As the weather turns colder, participants in many outdoor summer activities start moving indoors or turn their attention to other winter sports. However, if your favourite activity is fishing, the good news is that you can continue to participate in it year-round. Granted, you have to make some modifications to your summer technique. You need to wear warm clothing, and perhaps a fishing face mask, to endure the cold. In many cases, you have to cut a hole in the ice to reach the fish with your line.
Nevertheless, in some respects, winter fishing can be even more rewarding than in the summer. Freshwater species are more likely to group up during this season, so your catch can be better. There is also less competition for a good spot because many other fishers have given up for the season or turned their attention toward hunting instead. Here are some ideas for making a winter excursion safe, fun, and productive.
What Do You Wear When Fishing in the Winter?
Exposure to cold temperatures can result in serious medical conditions, such as frostbite or hypothermia. Your clothing and outerwear are your first line of defence against these. Therefore, it is critically important that you plan your outfit carefully to ensure adequate protection.
Because the temperature can fluctuate widely over the course of the day, you should dress in several different layers that you can remove or put on as needed. Your outermost layer should be heavy and insulated to provide heat. Ideally, it should also be waterproof or at least accommodate waders that you put over the top. The base layer, i.e., that which is closest to your skin, should be made of warm, breathable material. This is important because if your base layer doesn't breathe, it can become soaked with your perspiration, which makes you feel colder. In between the base layer and heavy layer, you should have at least one mid-layer made up of something like sweatpants and a long-sleeved hoodie for extra warmth.
However, it is not only the cold and wind from which you need to protect yourself but the sun as well. Most people don't think about sunburn when planning a winter fishing trip, but if the sun is out at the time, the reflection off the water or the ice can be more intense than you expect. Depending on the conditions, you may be at risk for both sunburn and windburn, but a fishing face mask helps protect against both. Sunglasses not only protect your eyes from the glare but help you see into the water better and deflect any errant fishhooks. These should be standard fishing gear for winter or summer alike.
What Are Some Other Helpful Winter Fishing Tips?
Safety should be your first priority when fishing during the winter. In addition to dressing appropriately, be sure to check the weather forecast beforehand to avoid any winter storms or other dangerous conditions. You should plan your travel route, location, and return time and provide these to a friend or family member. That way, someone can send help if you do get into trouble.
In the winter, fish are more active in the late morning through the afternoon. Therefore, you don't have to get up early as you would for a summer fishing trip. This also puts you on the water during the warmest part of the day.
When you choose a spot to fish, look for one on the northern bank of the water. This area is typically warmer because of the more southerly position of the sun in the sky.
Be sure to clean and lubricate your equipment before you go so that it is ready for you. Cold weather can take a greater toll on equipment that is not already in good working order.