In 1996 I bought my first Gore-Tex rain suit and can honestly say it was the best fishing/winter gear I have every paid for or owned. That may seem unusual if you every get a chance to look in my closet at all my winter clothes. The weather where I live is usually pretty nasty for about a month in the winter. One of my best days fishing a few years a go was a cold/wet day in February with my fishing bud, but we were dressed for success that day.
Once I started bass fishing seriously over 15 years ago I realized I was going to have to buy something to keep me warm and dry other than my Camouflage hunting clothing I use for deer and duck hunting. My hunting clothes that have always kept me warm in a deer stand or in the duck blind were to heavy, bulky and way to thick to wear in my bass boat. I need something comfortable and warm.
Let’s talk about the best choice for winter clothing for us fishermen and fishing ladies. You can use the latest Bass Pro Shops catalog for a reference if needed. Bass Pro Shops' Pro Qualifier rain gear is the most advanced rain gear ever built for fishermen! Pro Qualifier rainwear is the finest in fishing outerwear I have ever worn. It features a revolutionary 2-layer gore-tex performance shell created in collaboration with W.L. Gore & Associates; they have developed the ultimate fishing outerwear system. This system is designed to handle anything you can dish out, without the weight or bulk you will find in other suits. This suit is guaranteed to keep you dry. Bass Pro Shops promises that no liquid from the outside will get to you on the inside of this clothing. Water from a driving rain you're caught in, a damp bench that you happen to sit on or grass that you kneel in can't penetrate gore-tex fabric. To be totally waterproof, a fabric must be able to withstand water entry in all active conditions and that means screaming down the lake in a bass boat at 70 mph. The Pro Qualifier Parka and pants have all the protection and features you could ask for and more! This suit is Heavy-duty, tear-resistant high-tenacity nylon; it comes with 2 fleece-lined chest pockets with waterproof zippers, 2 front bellows pockets with rear fleece-lined hand warmer pockets, adjustable cuffs, adjustable extended rain hood and drawstring waist. There is also a zip in liner that you can buy separately. I would highly recommend getting the liner.
My choice for boots when fishing in the winter is the Pro Line® Woo Daves chukka: these boots were designed to provide top performance for fishing enthusiasts of any level. The boots are packed with features designed to enhance your experience and improve your performance. The chukka boot has water-resistant nubuck leather uppers with Breathable mesh inlays. A removable, cushioned orthopedic supports and EVA mid-soles soak up shocks. The soles have a Slip-resistant, heavy-duty vibram rubber out-soles. I always get my boots one size bigger so I can wear a high quality sock. You will not go wrong with the Bass Pro Shops – Redhead Lifetime Guarantee Hunting Socks for Men and if they ever wear out on you, just return them for a free replacement! Yep, that’s right take them back and they will replace them with no questions ask and they only cost $9.99. To say they are made tough is an understatement. They have a double reinforcement to all stress zones ensure a lifetime of faithful service. Fine grade merino wool makes these socks makes them softer than many other socks for outdoorsmen. Each pair comes with a flat toe seam for comfort; elastic arch support zone; elastic top with stretch from top to toe, for a snug fit; full merino lamb's wool cushioning throughout; double-reinforced heel, ball, and toe for long wear. Each sock has 88% merino lamb's wool. You can not go wrong with this sock.
To keep warm you need more than just a good pair of boots, good socks and a nice Gore-tex rain suit. I always wear a knit or wool skull cap to keep my ears warm and the top of my head dry. The face, head and chest are more sensitive to changes in temperature than the rest of the body, making it feel as if covering them up does more to prevent heat loss. In fact, covering one part of the body has as much effect as covering any other. I added a hooded sweat shirt to my winter attire when going fishing. That hood pulled over my skull cap will keep my head and neck warm. That combo is great for keeping head, ears and neck warm.
Now let’s talk long underwear, not the kind your Grandpa wore in the 50’s. I wear the Redhead Base-layer type which combines a frictionless poly-spandex blend for fast efficient moisture. This pulls the moisture away from your skin allow you to stay warmer longer. The soft spun yarn rapidly channels moisture away from the skin to reduce drying time and speeds vapor transmission. This type of clothing is ideal as a stand alone garment in cool weather or as a layering garment in cold weather. It is very lightweight and soft, yet durable poly/spandex blend allows freedom of movement. Look for a top that has a mock turtle neck to add warmth. A good set will cost you in the neighborhood of $40. What a small amount of money to stay nice and warm.
The number #1 most important thing I do not go to the lake without is a good life jacket. I must admit, I will never go on the water without wearing it; I love my family too much. Remember if you ever fall in with all the above on, you must be able to swim. A life vest should be worn on top of everything else, is really hardly noticeable, and it could save your life. I would recommend looking at the Mustang Survival Competition Inflatable PFD Vest; this vest cost $289.99. This type of life jacket inflates only under hydrostatic pressure. Only buy an automatic inflatable type vest, there is no substitute. This inflatable vest is stylish in the competition version. It features a secure zip closure that can withstand rigorous activity, heavy duty coated nylon for increased durability, and is very lightweight, comfortable, and compact. It will keep you on top of the water long enough to allow yourself to get back in the boat. Attach your kill switch to your life vest any time your gas motor is running.
Winter time fishing can be an incredible experience if you dress for success. It not rocket science folks! Have you ever seen the fisherman or group of fishermen back at the ramp that had a miserable day because they did not catch them and they are cold? Just think if that was you; you might consider another sport if that was you. Not me I will be on the lake this winter catching me some nice ones and all warm and dry.
About the author:
Tom Branch, Jr. is a Bass Pro Shops prostaffer at the Atlanta, GA store and a freelance outdoor writer, full time Firefighter-Lieutenant/Paramedic with over 25 years of service with the Gwinnett County Fire Service in Georgia. He has been working in the Outdoor Industry for over 15 years and has done everything from successfully managing and developing a pro fishing team, developing new products, designing packaging, participated in different radio and television shows and developing Writer’s Conferences. He and his wife Kim live north of Atlanta in Braselton, GA with there 2 labs Jake and Scout.
Check out my blog at - http://outonalimbwithtombranchjr.blogspot.com