10 quick tips to keep you on the water longer this winter

10 quick tips to keep you on the water longer this winter

Angler stops halibut
Do you hope to continue to enjoy some fishing despite the colder weather? Here are our 10 tips to make your winter trips more fun and safer.
Jim Hendricks / Sport Fishing

If the pandemic has driven you outside and into the floating realm, we call boat ownership, congratulations. If the same pursuit also puts a fishing rod in your hands, so much the better.

But now that the weather has gotten colder, many new anglers may worry that the fun is over. Not necessarily.

Of course, the further north you live, the less likely you are to be able to maintain some presence on the water in the winter. But if the winter weather for the most part stays mild where you live, here are some tips from our experienced boating and fishing staff who will keep you on the water longer.

Fishing boots
Wearing deck boots keeps your feet warm and dry in cold, wet conditions. These boots have insulated uppers, but you can also use chemical foot warmers under your socks to warm your insoles.
Jim Hendricks / Sport Fishing

1. Protect your feet

Wear deck boots. Nothing is more miserable than wet feet in cold weather. Deck boots keep your feet as dry as possible in case the boat should splash or you should flush the deck down. Most fishing fishing boots do not have insulation, so consider foot warmers between your socks and insoles.

Two anglers are fishing
Wearing layers allows you to throw away clothes when the day is hot. Bring extra clothes if anyone needs an extra layer.
Doug Olander

Master the teams

The saying goes: There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. To keep warm and dry, the layers can include a thermal base layer, wool socks, a hoodie or hat, winter buffer, gloves and an insulated jacket and pants, as well as bibs for bad weather. Chemical hand warmers placed in your pockets can also keep your hands warm or reheat your hands after handling a fish or bait.

It is also a good idea to have extra warm clothes with you if you get wet or if a friend needs a warmer coat.

Ice on a fishing boat
Evening dew can freeze on the deck, turret tops and railings.
Doug Olander

3. Is, Is

When it falls below freezing, dew from the previous evening hours can freeze on the deck, turret tops and railings as well as on the quay. Remember to check for ice cream; it can result in an ugly waste or even a man-overboard situation.

Weather app
The FishWeather app provides daily forecasts for wind, temperatures and sea conditions.
Chris Woodward / Sport Fishing

4. The weather guide

Become a weather junkie by following your local weather forecast on TV and online. Bookmark the National Weather Service Zone forecasts in your browser and check out apps like FishWeather and Buoyweather.

Good weather days occur less frequently in the winter, so keep an eye on the weather forecast and be ready to go when conditions allow.

Read next: Gale-Force Fishing – Trolling in hard seas

Boat helmet
Some center consoles like this Grady-White Canyon 456 come with an enclosing windshield. To completely enclose the rudder, you can choose side and aft wings / curtains. If your boat only comes with minimal windshields, you can order a vinyl cabinet from a canvas manufacturer to attach to your T-top or hardtop.
Courtesy Grady-White

5. Enclose your rudder

If you do not already have windshields from top to console or a clear vinyl case, consider your options to better protect your rudder from splashes and wind. A canvas manufacturer can build a vinyl cabinet for a center console as long as it has a T-top or hardtop in canvas.

6. Turn up the heat

When we talk about keeping the rudder warm, many of today’s boats come with center consoles with air conditioning with vents at the rudder and elsewhere. We tend to think of these in terms of just cooling, but they can also serve as heaters to heat up the crew. It is a great advantage on cool days.

Oil for boat engine
Check your outboard user manual to see if the manufacturer recommends a lower viscosity oil for operation in cold weather.
Sincerely, Yamaha

7. Oil change

Some engine manufacturers recommend using a lower viscosity engine oil in colder weather for optimal lubrication. For example, the user manual for a Suzuki DF200AP outboard engine recommends switching to a 5W-30 engine oil when the air temperature drops to 41 degrees F or below, compared to 10W-40 quality oil for warmer weather. Boaters should check the recommendations in their instruction manual to be sure.

Anglers fish in the winter
When fishing off the coast in the winter, try to slow down your presentation.
Doug Olander

8. Fish deep and slowly

Many species migrate through different areas during the winter, including sailfish and wahoo offshore. In shallow waters, trout and redfish (those that do not go off the coast) lie in deep holes that contain warmer water. On sunny days, they look for shallow flats over dark mud bottoms that heat up quickly.

Talk to your local tackle shop owner to learn the techniques for capturing what is prevalent in your area. For coastal fishing, the basic rule of thumb on most days is to fish deeper and slower. Fish do not move as much when the water cools, so do not let them work too hard to chase a lure.

Pours a hot drink
Keep hot non-alcoholic beverages on hand on cold fishing days.
Courtesy Yeti

9. Hot liquids

Skip the alcohol until you are safely back at the marina. Bring hot liquids and soups in insulated bottles to keep you hydrated but toasty.

Fishing tackle for winter
For a winter inshore fishing trip, pack your life jacket and personal locator landmark.
Chris Woodward / Sport Fishing

10. Serious about safety

Even in Florida, the water gets cold in the winter and you do not want to spend time in it. So take safety seriously. Wear your life jacket and attach a personal searchlight to it. If you are going offshore, invest in an automatic EPIRB and install it properly. Check all your necessary safety equipment and fire extinguishers to make sure they are up to date and working.

Maintain your outboard engines and invest in a Sea Tow membership. With fewer friends on the water in the winter, you do not have many options for assistance.

Make sure your mounted VHF radio is connected properly so you can use its digital selective dialing feature in an emergency, and register your radio’s Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number with the US Coast Guard.

Having a VHF radio on board gives you direct access to relief-based personnel. Do not rely on just a mobile phone.

And finally, tell someone where you plan to go and when they should expect you back.

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