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Thread: Cold weather fishing - a few reminders

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Blacksburg, VA (for now)

    Default Cold weather fishing - a few reminders

    The sad news coming from the Big O this week prompted me to go back thru some of my notes for preparing for events in cold weather. Many of the doods on here fish year-round so thought some of these might serve as a good reminder of some basic do's and don't's.

    - Rule number one has been/is/always will be wear your PFD. Keep the kill switch lanyard connected when the big motor is running. Traditional PFDs aren't conducive to moving around, casting, etc. Take a look at the inflatable lines of PFDs. Many options out there, some of which are reasonable priced.

    - It's all about layers. One of the [many] lessons I picked up while on active duty was the functionality of layering in cold weather. A good base layer for heat retention. A good wind layer for those days when the hawk is up. Something waterproof to keep the spray and waves off of you. As the day warms doff a layer to match the conditions. Multiple layers is way more effective than that massive, single layer jacket or coat.

    - Hydration is as important in cold wx as it is in extreme heat. Your body consumes a lot of water to generate heat. You can avert skin issues (cracking, scaling) by taking in plenty of water. We all reach for that hot drink (mine is coffee) when it's cold. We need to keep a water bottle close by, take a sip often.

    - If the weather is going to be sketchy let someone know you're going out. Tell them where you're going, how long you expect to be out. Make sure your cel phone is charged before you go out.

    - Keep a spare set of clothes on board during cold wx months. It happens to all of us so be prepared. A quick change into dry clothes can help stave off the onset of hypothermia. Keep your spare clothes in a waterproof bag or tote so they stay dray while stored in your sled.

    - Keep the deck clear. Cold weather fishing can sometimes be a process of trial and error so we have every rod we own on the deck. Not so hard to manage when it's warm - we're not encumbered by bulky clothes. Keep the deck clear of stuff you don't really need. Take a few seconds before/after making a run to eliminate trip hazards. Another hazard to keep an eye for here is ice on the gunnels. Spray and water from the fish we [hopefully] catch will freeze on the gunnels. The gel coat is slick enuff when it's dry. It's especially so when it's wet or icy.

    - Bring your common sense. Some days it's just best to stay inside. Painful as that is for us, we need to be smart enuff to allow common sense to prevail. No fish is worth injury or a life. Err on the side of safety.

    Nothing new here, doods. We've read or done these things many times. Don't become a statistic.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Carroll County


    Great post 31!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    warrenton, virginia


    Great reminder Brian. Thanks. I might also add, that as a tournament director, I do all I can to make sure everyone stays safe and follows the rules of safe tournament / boating practices. That said, even though you sign a waiver to fish my tournament, you are not "obligated or required" to fish that particular day. If any of you feel it is an unsafe do not have to participate. I am not forcing you to do anything YOU do not want to do. If you have pre-paid for the tournament, I will gladly refund your entry fee. Wear your life vest, use the kill switch and be safe to return to fish another day.
    2013 Frog Only Tournament Winner
    2010 Tie for VA-Outdoors Angler of the Year
    2009 Caroline County Rotary Club Tournament Winner
    2007 Tuesday Night Classic Champions
    "Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011


    I'll add one here that has helped me. When you get all layered up as Brian recommended, your shoulders get to be a pinch point for all the clothes and makes it cumbersome to use your arms effectively. Have a heavy something handy for when you're running, and get a good warm sleeveless vest for your non-running outer layer. Makes it much easier to have dexterity in your arms for casting.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011


    There are actual health benefits from drinking very warm to hot water, so a hot liquid can be simply hot water.

    I keep an Ozark Trail water bottle filled with warm water. Yeti works fine too but expect to pay 40 more dollars for Yeti stamped on the side.
    Thank God For Rednecks

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Montclair Va


    All great reminders. Stay safe and keep your body in shape so you can indeed enjoy the great outdoors reqardless of the season.
    1st Place VA East FOMNTT Potomac River 2006, VA East FOMNTT Big Bag 2006, VAO Frog Only Tournament Winner 2011

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Mechanicsville, VA


    Great post 31. One thing I will recommend for a base layer is UA Cold Gear. That stuff retains your heat well. I will wear the tops and bottom, a pair of jeans, a thin sweatshirt and a hoodie, then my Red Head insulated parka and bibs (Bone Dry). The Red Head socks are very warm also. A UA head cover and a thick neck gator gets it done for me. Also I recently purchased a pair of windproof gloves from Cabelas. They have the open fingers but also a mitten that you can pin out of the way when fishing and flip over your fingers when running. They are currently on sale for $24. Fishing in the cold is tough but can be a lot of fun if your prepared to handle the cold.

    2004 Fishers of Men VA-East Division Champions

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Message me


    Not always easy because not everyone can enjoy cold weather fishing but you should always try to have someone with you when you go out. I know I have and a few others have gone out many of times by ourselves. I always try to make sure I do everything Brian had mentioned above, but there always can be the oh crap factor. Can't say I never had a close call. But had thought about it afterwards. What would have happend if it did. Have never had to use it thank the good lord, but if you ever go over those layered cloths will get extremely heavy. get yourself to big motor get on and use lift button to get you back up in boat. At that point getting in dry cloths and warmth is essential. Be safe and enjoy
    2017 Ironman winner

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010


    Might want to consider carrying two PFD's. I'm not sure I want to put my life in the hands of a small, very cold and compressed, CO2 cartridge should I go over and be unresponsive. The inflatable PFD's will require a certain level of cognizance in order to inflate should the auto-inflate mechanism fail. That said, it's also not real comfortable to fish in a full size Type III PFD. It might not be a bad idea to operate (or ride as a co) the big motor at speed with full a sized Type III PFD, and when on deck fishing (if alone or with partner) with the more convenient and maneuverable inflatable PFD.

    Just remember, those clothes you wear are awfully heavy when water-logged, and may impact the buoyancy rating of the PFD you are wearing.

    Below taken From -

    How Do We Calculate Weight in Water?
    Approximately 80% of the human body is water, thus will not weigh you down (has no weight) in water. Additionally, bodies on average have 15% fat, which is lighter than water. There are other factors that play a part, such as lung size, clothing and whether the water is calm or rough, but those two are the major factors. In general, the more physically fit you are (the less fat on your body), the more buoyancy you will need.

    Let’s do the math on a 125 lb and 200 lb person.

    125 lbs X 80% water = 100 lbs of water.
    125 lbs X 15% fat = 15 lbs of fat.
    125 lbs minus 100 lbs of water minus 15 lbs of fat leaves 10 lbs.

    Meaning, a typical 125 lb person weighs 10 lbs in the water. Thus a TYPE III vest rated at minimum 15.5 lbs will be more than adequate. A lean person might have only 10% (12.5 lbs of fat), thus weighing 12.5 lbs in the water. Once again, the TYPE III vest will be fine.

    200 lbs X 80% water = 160 lbs of water.
    200 lbs X 15% fat = 30 lbs of fat.
    200 lbs minus 160 lbs of water minus 30 lbs of fat leaves 10 lbs.

    Meaning, a typical 200 lb person weighs 10 lbs in the water. Thus a TYPE III vest rated at minimum 15.5 lbs will be more than adequate. A lean person might have only 10% (20 lbs of fat), thus weighing an additional 10 lbs in the water and needing a higher buoyancy of 20 lbs.

    To check the buoyancy of your PFD in the water, relax your body and let your head tilt back. Make sure your PFD keeps your chin above water and you can breathe easily.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Springfield, VA


    Great advice Brian. I would like to add two things. I see a lot of guys who just run their wrist through a loop in the kill-switch cord or wrap it around their leg. If you are thrown overboard, it will most likely come off and be lost. Then if you do get back in the boat, you will not be able to start the motor. Most PFD's have a ring for this purpose and most kill-switch cords have a snap. Used them!

    Secondly, especially if you are old and fat like many of us. What you weigh in the water isn't as important as what you weigh getting out of the water. If you cannot do a pull up of twice your body weight in near freezing weather and your boat does not have a permanent folding boarding ladder, GET ONE!

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