Winter Fishing: 4 Ways to Stay Warm in Frigid Waters

Photo by Brian Grossenbacher

Whether you’re after steelhead, trout, or stripers, coldwater wading can be miserable if you don’t suit up properly. These four tricks help me focus on casting instead of on which appendages may be frostbitten.

1. Boot Up
Forget stocking-foot waders and opt for boot-foot waders one size larger than you'd normally wear. The thick boot shell makes a better barrier between your foot and the water, and the extra space within the boot traps warm air while you walk. A pair of good wool socks is all you need inside.

2. Stay Tucked
Buy your base-layer tops in tall sizes. There's nothing worse than coming untucked or having your thermal shirt ride up, creating cold spots, especially if bare skin bumps directly against the inside of your waders. If you de-wader to re-tuck, you're just going to lose all the body heat you've built up.

3. Mind Your Core
Keeping your core toasty leads to better warmth all over. I like a fleece-lined pullover above my base-layer top, and a windproof jacket over the fleece. Fleece-lined pants are the best under waders; don't wear jeans. If your body is warm, a pair of fingerless gloves should keep your hands comfy.

4. Toast Yourself
If you plan to gear up streamside, you're making a big mistake. When it's cold, I put everything—including my waders—on before I leave the house. When I'm 10 minutes away, I'll crank the heat in the truck and roast myself. It gets your core warm quickly, and it's much better than freezing while dressing.