How Matt Lee Stays Warm On Bass Fishing’s Coldest Days

Staying warm

If Matt Lee had it his way, he’d wear flip flop sandals, shorts and a t-shirt every day of his life. But as a touring professional angler, that’s simply not reality. Instead, life on tour has forced the former Auburn engineering major to adopt numerous tricks for staying warm amid the absolute coldest days on the water.

“I guess you could say I had to learn really quick how to stay warm in below freezing temperatures, because the very first pro tournament of my life was the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake, OK. It snowed the final day of practice, and it was 23 degrees to start Day 1 of competition,” Lee remembers vividly.

He qualified for that event through the Carhartt College Bass Fishing ranks. And in the nine years since, has figured out several helpful tricks to stay comfortable when chasing bass on days that begin with a thick layer of frost on the boat cover, and never get above 40-dgrees -- as was the case the first couple of days at the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour near West Monroe, Louisiana.

Use your boat cover, and if not, find some old bath towels

“Here I am sharing advice on how to combat freezing weather, and yet, I have to admit, I got lazy after a long 37-degree day of practice on Lake D’Arbonne last Friday, and left my boat cover off that night. I paid for that mistake the next day. It took hours to get enough ice off the carpet to even be able to open my battery compartment,” admits Lee.

So, use your boat cover on brutally cold nights. And if you don’t have a boat cover, Lee recommends laying an old bath towel between your storage lids and the carpet that surrounds them, so they don’t freeze shut.

Buy a Little Buddy

For a little more than a hundred-bucks, investing in a Mr. Heater Little Buddy portable propane heater may very well be the best Ben Franklin you’ll ever spend in your efforts to stay comfortable amid bass fishing’s most frigid days. Just be sure the space around it is totally in the open air, far removed from any gasoline fumes near the rear of the boat. This little propane-operated gadget will serve as the perfect means to keep your fingers and feet warm.

Thermos full of chicken soup

One of Matt’s favorite treats and methods for warming up his innards is a thermos full of hot chicken soup. Not just at lunch, but sporadically throughout the day, to give warm fuel from the inside out. So, don’t just consider coffee, but a thermos full of Campbell’s too.

Pack 5 pair of gloves

“Most people will hesitantly wear one pair of gloves, and when those get wet from the excess water spraying off your reel, then they’re totally worthless. So, I literally pack about five pair of thin Carhartt gloves. When one pair gets wet, I change to the next dry pair. And then throw all of them in the dryer at the end of the day to get them ready for the next day. I can’t tell you how critical this tip is to dealing with super cold fishing conditions,” emphasizes Lee.

Lee swears by Yukon Extremes

“Carhartt’s Yukon Extreme series of jackets and bibs are absolutely awesome as outerwear during the coldest days on the water. And that’s not some sales plug. That’s a fact. My legs and body don’t get cold when I wear Yukon Extreme. I absolutely swear by their quality,” says Lee.

Made with a Cordura nylon shell to stop the frigid wind, and lined with 3M Thinsulate, Yukon Extreme garments are indeed built to beat the cold.

Are the fish frozen too?

“No, with the recent advance forward-looking sonar you can literally see the fish swimming, and trust me they’re not all moving as slow in the dead of winter as we’ve always thought they were. In fact, I think we move slower than the fish on super cold days,” grins Lee in conclusion.