By John Brady
It looks like old man winter has finally given up his hold on us. The weather this past week was great, a perfect time to get out and start to re-hone our fishing skills for the season ahead. A word of caution though. Although the weather feels good at home, it will be much different once you are out on the water.
What do I mean by this? Well, although the air temperature finally reached into the 60's and higher and feels very pleasant, the water temperature is still in the 40's and 50's. And once you get out on the water, the air temperature will be much colder due to the water temperature. Especially if there is a breeze blowing, or it gets very windy.
It takes quite a bit longer for the water temperature to rise than the air temperature. An air temperature of 65 degrees in your back yard can equate to 55 degrees once you head out on the water if the water temperature is around 50 degrees. Or the air temperature can be 45 degrees in the morning, then be into the 70's by afternoon.
Because of these differences we need to be prepared, and in more ways than one. We need to be prepared with plenty of warm clothing. The best way to dress this time of year is with layers. You can be very warm one minute, and when a steady breeze starts to blow, get bone chilling cold the next.
I've found the best layers of clothes to be a long sleeve tee or golf shirt, a long sleeve cotton shirt, a wool shirt, and a jacket or raincoat. I like shirts with collars. That way I can have the collar up and protecting my neck. So I'll wear a long-sleeve golf or sport shirt, a canvas shirt with a collar, and a wool over-shirt with a collar.
In addition I'll take my complete rain suit along. Even if the weather forecast isn't calling for rain, a rain suit is great to wear this time of year. It's works well at keeping the wind and cold air out and body heat trapped inside. Another advantage to a rain suit is the hood. They say that most of our body heat escapes through our head. So the best way to keep warm is to make sure your head is covered. A rain suit hood works well at keeping our body at a comfortable temperature. If you're cold put it up and it will keep the heat in. Get a little warm, and you can take it off for a while to let some of the heat out.
Another good piece of clothing for this time of year is a snowsuit. Although you won't have to worry about snow, a snowsuit is great for holding in body heat. A snowsuit is popular with tournament fisherman. With a snowsuit, you can wear it on top of your regular clothes and have instant warmth. If you get too warm, unzip the front, and release some body heat. The downside is that it's bulky and can take up a lot of room in a small boat when you get too warm and you need to take it off. But it's a real lifesaver when the air turns bitter cold and the wind picks up.
Another must to wear is a good pair of warm shoes or boots. I like to wear Gore-Tex hi-top shoes with a pair of lightweight wool socks. I'll throw a pair of loafers in my truck to wear when I get off the water.
Although it is meant for safety, a life jacket is a perfect insulator. They are made of foam and help to keep in body heat. Wearing it the whole time you're fishing will not only keep you warm, it will help to insure your safety just in case of an accidental spill into the water.
Other essentials to take along fishing this time of year are a lightweight pair of gloves and a warm hat such as a stocking cap. I don't particularly like wearing gloves while fishing, but I'll wear them when moving from one spot to the other, or if it get really cold. I like those brown cotton gloves. I'll carry several pair. That way when one pair gets wet, I can put on another pair.
Bottom line here is that we need to be prepared for a much different type of weather once we are on the water. I've found from experience that if we are not warm and comfortable, we won't enjoy our trip.
Take care, enjoy the season, and remember "They call it fishing, but the goal is catching"!