Now’s a great time to get into some big winter carp. And for sea anglers, winter is the season for decent cod. You’ve got the know-how, the patience and the tactics. We’ve got the lowdown on what to wear to keep you warm, dry and comfortable while you fish.
If the thought of braving frosty temperatures leaves you cold, look no further than our handy guide to keeping warm by the water.
It’s not exactly your clothes that keep you warm, but the insulating air those clothes trap within and between their fibres. This is why the best way to retain your body heat is to wear plenty of layers of clothing.
Top angling blogger Leon Bartropp is a firm believer in layering up:
“There is nothing worse than being cold when you are out in the elements fishing. I’ve found through trial and error over the years that a three layer system will keep you as warm as toast.”
Your base layer combines two functions. One is to keep your core warm, the other is to draw moisture away from your skin, stopping cooling perspiration from drawing heat from your body. Worn next to the skin, merino wool is a great natural insulator or for those who find wool a bit itchy, you won’t go wrong with a quality two piece microfleece.
Wear a thick wool jumper or fleece as your mid layer and for your bottom half, we suggest you go for a pair of TF Gear Hardcore Waterproof Trousers. They’re super-warm, and constructed so that if you get your feet wet, the water won’t seep up your legs.
An extremely knowledgeable winter cod angler, Glen Kilpatrick who writes for Whitby Sea Anglers is also keen on layering for warmth:
“The best clothing for rock fishing is light breathable layers worn underneath a pair of studded chest waders and a waterproof jacket or smock.”
A waterproof jacket is certainly one option, or alternatively, a flotation suit will do exactly what the name suggests, keeping you afloat should the worst happen. And because it’s 100% water and wind proof, your under layers can do their job, keeping you toasty while you reel in the fish.
Keep your head warm
The “fact” that you lose most of your body heat through your head is actually totally wrong. The claim stems from a 1970 US military handbook that stated that without a hat, you lose 40 – 45% of your body heat through your head. The statistic originated from some vaguely scientific studies conducted in the 1950s but is manifestly untrue.
In fact left uncovered, you’ll probably lose something in the order of 10% of your body heat through your head. But anyone who’s ever experienced a case of ‘icecream head’ – the agonising pain caused by the cold wind rifling through your sodden hair – will know the value of a wooly hat!
Fingerless gloves are ideal for keeping your hands warm without getting in the way of reeling, casting and baiting up.
For added warmth, invest in a pair of hand warmers. They have changed the way that blogger, Gurn from the Intrepid Piscator fishes:
“The petrol fuelled models by Zippo and Peacock are excellent. I use two, one for each side pocket. They keep the fingertips and the core of your body warm. I cannot emphasise enough how much these items have enhanced my angling.”
Keep your feet toasty with a good quality pair of Gore-Tex lined boots and a pair of thermal socks. Take the Intrepid Piscator’s advice and you won’t go wrong:
“If your feet are cold then so are you, and once they’re cold they are nigh impossible to warm up again. Good thermal, waterproof footwear is essential”
Being comfortable will help you catch more fish, says angling blogger, Ian Brooke. And that’s particularly true during the winter months. Ian’s advice is to invest in a quality clothing to keep you warm and dry because despite the weather,
“Carp look fantastic in their winter colours and are usually at good weights. They are harder to catch but then it was never meant to be easy.”
But a coat will only get you so far. Investing in a bivvy that’ll stand up to the worst the elements can throw at it means you can get out of the weather, keeping you fishing for longer and in worse conditions.
Writing in his series of posts on winter carp fishing, Ian recommends making sure your bivvy has a substantial groundsheet. He says it’s “essential to keep warmth in and damp out.” And he adds, “I also like to have a piece of carpet with me to use as added insulation.”
Hot comforting food and drinks are a must when you’re angling – and never more so than in the winter. As Ian Brooke points out, “…a cup of tea is an amazing morale booster”.
Take a large insulated flask filled with tea, coffee or soup. If you are planning a longer session and don’t want to carry excessive weight, pack a compact stove and stay fuelled with dried packet mixes or reheated meals.
Biscuits and chocolate bars will also boost your energy levels.
So what are you waiting for? Switch that fire off, stop making excuses and get out there! In Gurn’s words, “There’s no such thing as too cold….just the wrong clothing!”
Got a few tips of your own to share? Let us know how you keep warm when fishing during the winter on our Facebook page.