We have all heard the Boy Scouts’ motto, “be prepared.” This can apply to so many other things, including fishing and related outdoor activities. Being prepared in the winter for outdoor activities is highly important, especially around water.
Trout stream water is almost always cold, and in the winter it can be desperately cold and can kill. Most trout streams are cold year-round, otherwise trout could not live there, and many streams in the mountains get cold enough to freeze nearly solid during cold spells like the one we experienced lately.
These streams are beautiful to look at, and if you can find open water and present your bait, lure or fly properly, you can catch fish. The problem with fishing streams in the winter is the cold and staying dry.
Being prepared for the cold and the water is essential. Neoprene waders, gloves, layers of warm clothes, a wool or fleece hat, and non-slip wading boots are essential.
Before you leave home there are several things that you should take with you.
You should have at least one full change of clothes, including a heavy coat, hat and mittens or gloves in your survival bag. Pack in reverse with the last thing you will put on at the bottom and at least one large towel on top with underwear, hat, shirts, socks and pants being closer to the bottom.
No matter how careful you may be there is always the chance that you can slip on the creek bank or step on what you think is solid ground with snow only to discover that it is ice with snow on top. A quick dip in the stream will make you happy that you have spare clothes in the vehicle.
It is very important to get dry before you put on the dry clothes. As soon as you get to your vehicle, turn on the engine and start getting it warm. Get out of your clothes, grab your survival bag and get dry. If you have waders full of water, get out of your clothes before you get in the vehicle otherwise you may be riding home sitting on a wet seat.
Let’s assume that you do not get wet and that other than being a beautiful day it is still very cold. Try to keep your hands and head warm. A scarf and a warm hat that covers your ears will help your head, but how can you fish with gloves on? I use fingerless wool gloves that allow the fingertips to touch the line and reel handles while keeping the core of the hands warm.
I also use disposable hand warmers that can fit between the glove and the back of your hand or the palm of your hand. These work great and you can pull your fingers into the glove to warm them. Keeping a hand warmer in your coat pockets will prove helpful, as well as keeping some paper towels there to dry your fingers after removing a fish.
Hopefully these words of advice will keep you from suffering hypothermia or worse on a winter trout stream adventure. The next article will focus on keeping you and your things dry while on fishing trips.
Upcoming TU fishing trips
The Coosa Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited has two scheduled fishing trips for the upcoming months.
The first is to Cherokee, North Carolina, where it’s reserved six Ole Smokey Log Cabins for Feb. 1-3. There are 16 beds total. Tim Looney will record the names in the order people respond to him by email. The trip is open to all chapter members and their friends. There are a number of motels in the area if the cabins fill up and others want to go.
The other trip is to Arkansas fishing the White River. There is a reservation for three large cabins at White Hole Resort that can sleep 24 people easily. The dates are for April 2-7. The same conditions apply to this trip as Cherokee.
The next meeting of the Coosa Valley Chapter will be Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Rome Floyd ECO River Education Center at Ridge Ferry Park. The public is invited.