Fly and ice anglers are privy to a little secret that has others out in deer stands and pushing fields for pheasant as the fall wears on: oftentimes, the latest dates in the fall calendar, and through the winter, can offer some of the most productive fishing of the entire year.
Even if you only prefer the winter because it keeps (some of) the crowds off the water, that’s a good reason in its own right.
But, this being said, conditions can be less than favorable. Sub-zero temperatures, stiff winds, and inclement weather can make enjoying winter fishing a challenge, to say the least.
Staying warm is crucial to enjoying your time on the water, and if you don’t enjoy it, you’re robbing yourself of half of the experience.
So, besides being prepared with the proper clothing for ice fishing, here are some top suggestions for staying warm when the mercury plummets.
Layering is Crucial
Layering is vital to staying warm on the ice, outwardly because additional layers will keep you warmer. Layering up with a warm, breathable wool baselayer, mid-layer, and well-insulated, waterproof women’s ice fishing jacket will help prevent the temperatures from getting to you.
However, there is another “layer” to this: properly layering will allow your body to better thermoregulate.
Dragging all your gear out on the ice, setting up an ice shelter, and manually augering holes through thick ice is not only tiring: it can make you hot. When you get hot, you sweat.
You should avoid sweating when the temperatures are cold at all costs. If your base layers get wet, as they cool and the moisture evaporates, it will suck heat away from your core.
So, when you feel the exertion coming on, shed the women’s ice fishing jacket you got from us. Just for a bit, so you don’t overheat. Then layer up again as needed.
There is a saying among outdoors enthusiasts: cotton kills.
They say this because cotton is highly absorbent and can hold many times its weight in water. Sweating in cotton or falling in water can be very dangerous if it’s cold.
As water evaporates, it carries heat away from your body and cotton has a prodigious capacity for holding cold water.
In place of cotton, choose base layers, socks, pants or bibs, mid layers, and fishing coats that are made from wool (which retains its thermal insulative properties, even when wet) or from breathable, waterproof, performance synthetics such as ripstop fabrics and DWR-treated polyester that will keep you warmer or resist absorbing moisture in the first place.
Wear Two Pairs of Socks
It might not seem obvious, but it’s actually quite a good practice to wear two pairs of socks in extreme cold. Your boots are your first defense against low temperatures and water, but your socks are the next shield. They should keep you both dry and warm.
Next to your skin, wear a thin, breathable, wicking liner sock, such as a silk blend sock that will wick moisture away from your foot. For the outer layer, wear heavyweight wool or wool blend socks that will provide excellent insulation, even in wet conditions. If you’re particularly cold-sensitive, consider a pair of heated socks for the outer layer.
Keep Your Hands Dry
Many anglers find that the first part of them to become uncomfortably cold are their extremities. This is unsurprising; when it gets cold, your body naturally shunts warm blood away from your extremities to keep your core warm. But it sure is uncomfortable to be in the cold and have frigid hands.
Next to wearing a pair of quality gloves or mittens with good thermal retention properties, the best thing you can do is keep your fingers dry. As mentioned previously in this article, water will suck heat out of your fingers and carry even more away as it dries.
It’s hard to keep your hands dry when ice fishing, we know, when you’re handling fish and even more so if you fish with cut bait instead of artificials. But here’s a tip: keep a spare towel in your fishing jacket or bibs that you can use to dry off your hands whenever they get a bit wet. Alternatively, get a hand warmer pocket that you can wrap around your waist that you can keep your hands in whenever you’re idle for a moment.
Another suggestion is if you find you need the dexterity of your exposed fingers to manipulate terminal tackle or handle fish, get a pair of flip-top mittens, which will allow you to cover your fingers as needed.
Carry Hand and Boot Warmers
Some people handle the cold better than others, and if you struggle with chronically cold extremities, consider some heated gear like electrically heated socks or gloves.
If you’re not comfortable with the expense of heated gear, try carrying along some of those disposable hand hot warmers that warm up automatically in contact with air. They can be a lifesaver during long days outdoors in the winter.
If You’re Fishing During the Day, Wear Darker Colors
For those of you that are fishing during the day and not under an ice hut, consider wearing dark colors like black or dark blue, or green. Lighter colors might look nice, but darker colors will absorb radiant energy from the sun much more effectively which can help keep you warm.
The other thing about wearing darker colors on the ice, at least when the sun is out, is that they will result in much less glare, which some might find uncomfortable.
Finally, keep yourself hydrated. Your body uses water to maintain thermal homeostasis and when you get dehydrated you can become cold much more easily.
Also, be cautious about overindulging in warm beverages like tea or coffee, which are diuretics. They might feel good going down, but they will increase the frequency with which you need to relieve yourself, and each time you do, you’ll be losing valuable heat.
Gear up with Women’s Ice Fishing Jackets, Bibs, and More
Naturally, all of this good advice is secondary to being prepared with adequate clothing and outerwear. Don’t leave our site without visiting our collections of women’s ice fishing jackets, bibs, and other clothing.
Be warm, stay safe, and tight lines this winter.