The older I get the more I feel the cold, especially in my fingers and toes and unlike in the love song, it isn’t pleasant at all. In fact it’s miserable. Fishing in these conditions can be demanding and I know that if I don’t keep warm I won’t enjoy being ‘out there’ and more importantly, I won’t fish well. So here are some tips about staying warm this winter.
With the development of modern fabrics there is no excuse for not keeping your core temperature up. It is vital to use a layering system of clothes right across your whole body. The base layer should be skin tight and made of a non absorbent material which wicks sweat away from your body. Any dampness in any part of your clothes will lose heat and feel much colder. The next layer should be warm and also non-absorbent – most modern fleeces will do. The top or outer layer should be breathable and waterproof. As a top layer I love my Sundridge Igloo Suit (Mark 2) made up of a bib and brace and a jacket. I have yet to fish anywhere where, used in a correct layering system, this wasn’t plenty warm enough. It’s not cheap but you get what you pay for.
Remember to put these layers on as you need them. A good layering system will keep you dry even if you get sweaty carting your gear round to your chosen swim, but there’s no point having more layers on than you need. Even a good wicking system has its limits though so I always take a change of base layers and a spare pair of warm socks (and snow boot liners if I’m using them) so that if they get too damp then I can put a dry one on while the other one dries out.
Hand and foot warmers
I love these little packets of heat and would be lost without them. If you haven’t used them before then you are seriously missing out. Simply open the packet, expose to the air and the chemicals packed inside the sealed bags start to warm up. I keep one hand warmer in one pocket and swap it from side to side and from hand to hand. The foot warmers come in pairs and you simply stick them to your socks under your toes and put your boots back on. Both the hand and foot warmers take the edge off really cold days. They only cost about a quid and each one will last several hours.
This year I decided to buy a little portable bivvy heater. Having shopped around I found this Sunngas Cartridge heater for £8 on line including postage! It works off the same propane/butane gas canisters I use for my cooking. The tight flame in the middle has a metal guard around it and it’s very stable. But as it’s a flame system USE IT CAREFULLY! If it toppled over it could melt your groundsheet or worse so I put mine on a low metal bivvy table. It only takes a few minutes to warm a bivvy up with the door down; I put my heater on for a while before I go to bed and turn it off before I climb into my bag. Luxury! On really cold days I might put the door down for a bit and get really warm.
Hot water bottle
I simply don’t know why more anglers don’t take one of these fishing with them. Think about it – we go fishing next to thousands of gallons of water! I have a large spare camping kettle which I use to boil lake water with. The piping hot water bottle goes into my sleeping bag ten minutes before I do. There’s not many better feelings while fishing on a cold winter night than climbing into a warm sleeping bag.
So there you have it – just a few tips and some of the things I do to take the edge of those cold winter days and nights. Go out there, stay warm and enjoy!
Wishing you a fish filled 2013. May all your bites be one toners!
This article first appeared on the Quest Baits Blog & is reproduced with kind permission.