Dressing Right for Each Fishing SeasonDressing Right for Each Fishing Season Being properly dressed will greatly add to your comfort. And being comfortable always lends itself to a more productive fishing day.
By Hank Parker
Regardless of the season, the clothing an angler chooses to wear will greatly impact the quality of their time on the water. Over the years I've learned a lot about dressing properly in order to maximize the fishing experience. Even with the advances in clothing design and new materials, I am convinced the key for year around comfort continues to center around the concept of "layering".
There is no better time to "layer up", than when it is cold outside. I begin with a tight fitting pair of undergarments that are insulated, thin, but not too binding. Whether it is manufactured by Under Armour, or any other brand, insulated underwear is an essential first layer.
When it comes to selecting pants and shirts, I prefer heavy denim blue jeans, cotton shirts, and pullover sweatshirts. I like how this combination keeps me warm and comfortable.
The next layer has to do with wind resistance. Regardless of the weather conditions, when you fire up that big Mercury engine and head down the lake, you are creating your own wind. I like to add a Gore-Tex outer shell that is not only water proof but wind proof. In the winter time, cold wind is a big deal; I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to wear a wind resistant layer.
Many people fish with gloves, but that has never worked for me. I've tried various types and materials, including the versions that have the fingers cut out. But as important as it is to keep the hands warm, I have never been able to make gloves work. Instead, I coat my hands with Vaseline, and it is surprising how well it works to keep my hands warm.
Even with the layers and outer Gore-Tex shell, I tend to keep an additional big heavy jacket in the boat that I put on when I am running down the lake and dealing with the wind chill factor.
Protecting your face is also critical. It is important to have a good face mask, though I admit I've got a facemask that everyone tends to laugh at. It's a goose-down facemask that I've had for eons, and I'd be lost without it. It has small eye-holes so I can see, and it really keeps me warm.
Some folks use motorcycle helmets to keep the wind off, but wear them cautiously when operating your boat because they do tend to restrict your peripheral vision. Turn your head often in both directions to stay aware of boats that may be approaching from the sides.
Layering is as important in the springtime as it is in the winter time. Dressing this way allows you to start shedding some of those layers as the day warms up. Being able to add or subtract items provides control and comfort throughout the day that cannot occur if you wear just one big bulky item.
In the summertime, l still start the day with layers. I begin with a light cotton jacket and shirt. While there are a lot of different materials out there, I personally prefer cotton because it is absorbent when you are hot and sweaty, and it helps keep you cool. For the same reason, I really like vented clothing, such as Tarponwear. All my shirts are vented in the back, and I truly feel it significantly improves my comfort in the summertime.
When the sun is bright, hats and sunscreen should always be worn. But I have discovered that some brands of sunscreens actually make you hotter, especially if they are heavy cream or oil based. I prefer a real lightweight sunscreen with a minimum SPF rating of 15. I'll go as high as a SPF 45 depending on the intensity of the sun.
I have found that the key to making sunscreen effective is knowing "when" it should be applied. Waiting until you are in the boat, the sun is up, and you have already begun sweating - is not the ideal application time. I put sunscreen on early in the morning right after I shave. Applying it before you start to perspire is the key to sunscreen effectiveness. And remember to apply it to all exposed skin; especially ears, nose, and hands if you want to reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Naturally, fall fishing is also all about layering. One of the layers I haven't discussed yet concerns the feet. I love the little bootie that Arctic Shield makes - although Boot Blankets and other brands are also available. They slide right over your deck shoes and I keep them in my dry storage next to my rain gear in my Ranger boat. I wear them Winter, Spring, and Fall. These boot covers are warm and water proof, and if it's especially cold you can put a hand or foot warmer in them for additional heat.
I don't like to wear big, bulky boots. Most boat owners are aware that falling in the lake is always a possibility and I don't want to be wearing heavy boots should that happen. Some form of light boot blanket will always help keep your feet warm, and they are easy to put on, kick off, and store in the boat.
The wicking action of big thick cotton socks will really help keep your feet warm and comfortable in the fall.
Let's face the facts; there will always be extreme weather, (sweltering 100 degree days, or shivering cold 25 degree days), when being comfortable is a hard task to accomplish. But for the most part, being properly dressed will greatly add to your comfort. And being "comfortable" always lends itself to a more productive fishing day.
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