Dress Properly for Cold Weather Fishing

The Right Clothing, Headwear, and Footwear Will Keep You Warm

Photo © Ken Schultz

In my first winter of fishing from a bass boat I quickly realized that I was going to need warm outerwear. Hunting clothes that kept me warm for a few hours in a deer stand would not do the job out in a boat for eight or more hours. 

So I went to a catalog and looked at snowmobile suits, something new to me, since I live in Georgia where it hardly ever snows. I ordered one and it was fantastic. I also ordered heavy, thick waterproof boots with a felt liner. The two combined solved most of my problems of being cold while fishing during the winter.

But you need more than just boots and the suit to keep warm. A knit cap, for example, is great for keeping your ears warm. I use one that is extra large and pull it down over my baseball-style fishing cap so I still have the visor to shade my eyes. A jacket with a hood also makes a difference. The one that I use is nylon with a sweat-shirt type liner and hood. When pulled up, the hood helps keep my head and neck warm. This combo is great for keeping head, ears, and neck warm.

I don't wear a face mask while fishing, so my nose does get cold. I have tried face masks of different kinds, but do not like them while fishing. However, some anglers like them, and newer lightweight "buffs" can be worm to provide some facial protection, although not much in the way of warmth. I do wear a bubble face shield when running the boat at high speed to block the wind from my face. Some people wear a helmet, and some wear skiing-style goggles, the latter being okay if it isn't too cold and if your boat moves at a slower speed.

Gloves are another necessity, although I can't wear them while casting. I do wear gloves while driving the boat but take them off to cast. I just suffer with cold hands so I can cast and feel what I am doing. Other anglers, however, find that they can cast and retrieve while using gloves that don't have finger tips, or for which the tips for the thumb and index finger are open.

Under all the outer wear I wear good insulated underwear, preferably including a turtle neck top.  Wool socks over knit socks that wick moisture away help keep my feet warm and dry.

Probably the most important thing to wear in the winter is a PFD, or life vest. I often fish by myself and if I fall in with all the above on, I'm not going to be able to swim! A PFD worn on top of everything else is hardly noticeable, and it could save my life. It would keep me on top of the water long enough to allow me to get back in the boat! Just make sure that a winter PFD is large enough to properly fit over the other clothing, and that it is buckled up and snug.

Also, whenever my gas motor is running I attach my kill switch to the PFD. You should never run the boat without using the kill switch, no matter what time of year! 

Dress right and you can enjoy fishing most days during the winter. 

This article was edited and revised by our Freshwater Fishing expert, Ken Schultz.