Late Season Tricks for Staying Warm
By: Mark Romanack
This late season musky was an accidental catch on Lake St. Clair while the author targeted walleye in January. With the right clothing it’s never too cold to enjoy a day on the water.
It doesn’t matter if you hit the hard water or search out open water fishing opportunities, staying warm this winter is critical to fishing success.
Thankfully modern fishing clothing does an outstanding job of keeping the elements at bay. The latest generation of cold weather suits are not only warm and weatherproof, they are lightweight, flexible and many even offer critically important floatation should a day of fishing suddenly turn into an ice water dunking.
For more than a dozen years, both Jake and I have depended on Striker Brands to keep us comfortable in all types of winter weather. Unlike other brands that take the “one suit serves all” approach, Striker produces five different cold weather suits including the Climate, Hardware, Predator, Trekker and the new Apex. Each of these suits features varying amounts of insulation and floatation material designed to provide warmth and protection for different fishing situations.
For example, the guy who ice fishes by hole hopping without a shelter is going to love the ultra warm features of the Climate and also Hardwater suits. These suits are like wearing a shelter in that they are warm and weatherproof in the most extreme conditions.
The guy who is more mobile and combines a snow machine or quad with a flip shelter is going to find the Predator suit is warm enough for traveling to and from fishing spots, yet comfortable enough to wear all day long in the shelter. “I love my Predator jacket for getting to and from my fishing spots,” says Jake Romanack of Fishing 411 TV. “The second I get inside my flip shelter and start the propane heater, the Predator jacket comes off and I can fish in comfort just wearing a hoodie and the bibs.”
Anglers who fish the first and last ice will appreciate the lightweight warmth of the Trekker suit. Open water anglers who fish late into the fall and also immediately following ice out will also find the Trekker is the ideal combination of warmth and weatherproof.
The new Apex suit is taking cold weather fishing gear to a whole new level of comfort. The Apex is not only the lightest and most weatherproof suit in the Striker Brands line up, thanks to some technology borrowed from NASA this new line up of cold weather clothing sets a whole new standard for lightweight warmth.
The Apex is built by combining PrimaLoft insulation to Aerogel a NASA developed insulation material that is 95% air and considered to be the lightest and most efficient insulation on the planet! The end result is the lightest, warmest and most waterproof suit that Striker has ever produced and it also features the floatation anglers have come to expect.
For many years the Striker Predator suit has been Jake Romanack’s “go to” choice for both hard water and late season open water fishing adventures.
Until recently both Jake and I have preferred the Predator suit. Now with the introduction of the Apex, we will be upgrading to this impressive cold weather gear. It’s hard to argue that lighter and warmer is something both hard water and open water fishermen can get behind.
A base layer that passes moisture onto outer layers is a critical piece of gear when it comes to staying warm in bitter cold. Merino wool or polyester fleece make the best base layers. Our best advice is to tread lightly when selecting base layers. Many are so thick they restrict a person’s movements creating fatigue in the process.
A light to medium weight base layer is plenty of warmth if you layer properly. Over top of that base layer a polyester hoodie is tough to beat as the next layer. Polyester breaths nicely and lets body moisture escape to the outer clothing layer.
Ice out is one of the author’s favorite times to be on the water, especially for species like brown trout. Don’t let the beautiful sunshine fool you, on this particular day the author was very glad to have his Predator suit.
COLD WEATHER GLOVES
Cold weather fishing calls for a number of different glove types. Getting to the fishing spot requires a warm glove that provides enough dexterity to drive a boat, UTV, ATV or snow machine. For years we have depended on the Predator Gloves to get us to the fish warm and dry.
Once on location, the Predator provides enough dexterity to set up a flip or hub style shelter. Once inside the shelter, the Predator gloves come off, the propane heater is started and we bare hand fish most days.
For open water fishing applications, a lighter pair of gloves that allows for operating a fishing reel is in order. The Stealth Glove fits that bill. The only waterproof glove we have ever used that is thin enough to actually fish with, the Stealth Glove is especially handy on those days when we are dipping our hands into the minnow bucket regularly.
If we are not using live bait, a pair of fingerless wool gloves is hard to beat for cool to cold weather fishing. I like to wear a pair of thin vinyl gloves as a base layer and then slip a pair of fingerless wool gloves over the top to keep the chill off. This set up is amazingly warm and makes it possible to operate a reel, control a touch screen sonar/chart plotter unit, use your phone or tie on baits without having to remove your gloves.
HOW ABOUT THE NOGGIN?
Experts say that as much as 80% of your body heat is lost through your head. Keeping your noggin warm is critical to cold weather fishing success. My personal favorite option is to wear a ball cap and then slip a stocking cap over the top. This keeps the sun out of my eyes and head warm.
When running from spot to spot, a face mask is absolutely necessary to keep the cold from blistering your face and neck. The face mask comes off as soon as we sit down on fish.
A lot of guys like rubber boots for ice fishing. I find that rubber doesn’t breath very well and my feet tend to sweat and then get cold. Instead, I prefer to wear waterproof leather boots with rubber lineman over-boots that feature spikes in the soles. This system allows my feet to breath, keeps my feet dry, warm and I don’t slip when walking on the ice.
For open water fishing applications, rubber bottom/leather top pac boots are the answer for those bitter cold days on the water. Pac boots can be insulated with polyester or felt liners. Both do a good job of breathing and keeping feet dry and warm.
SUMMING IT UP
These days clothing has evolved to the point it makes the outdoor experience something everyone can enjoy. Staying warm and dry is goal one when it comes to enjoying any fishing trip and that includes both hard and soft water adventures.