With winter fast approaching, taking precautions to ensure your angling experience is not hampered by the elements is a necessity, especially if you want to stay safe, dry and warm.
It never ceases to amaze me the number of novice anglers I come across who are unprepared for the harsh conditions when hitting the water in the winter months. Understandably, amongst the youth of today the idea is to look cool regardless of what you are doing, and aged 22, sometimes my thoughts stray that way too.
However, I’ve learned from my mistakes and my new line of thought is with my health, safety and enjoyment. I can look as cool as a cucumber but waste away my time on the water doing so, which is not what you want to be doing during the precious last few months until the season closes.
So, what are my tips? Well I could say that you should hit the water with a mobile GPS unit incase you get lost, a whistle on your waders if you are in need of help and a waterproof mobile phone but that’s not what you want to hear. Whilst these suggestions are valid ones, unless you have extremely deep pockets it might not be something you want to hear.
Instead, here’s a few things you can be doing to protect yourself without hampering your angling…
1. More care in the water – During the summer months the water can be warm, calm and quite tranquil. As winter draws in the temperature will drop and the lack of daylight can mean visibility is poor. So, if you’re crossing fast currents wade downstream at an angle across the river, carry a wading staff and wear a wading belt to avoid avoid your chest waders filling up with water if you slip. Have an exit strategy for getting our the water quickly, especially if you know water levels rise. Finally, if fishing in deep water it is far safer to float than sink, so wear a flotation device.
2. Winter sun is deceiving – Even though it is too cold for a sun tan, don’t forget that the reflection off the sun on the water can burn you. Wear a cap or hat to protect your face and even carry a small bottle of suncream for exposed areas. Eye protection is good to protect against harmful UV rays but also stops your fly potentially blinding you! The sun’s glare can also reduce visibility and add additional risk which is another reason why investing in a pair of polarised sunglasses isn’t a bad idea.
3. Dress not to impress – Dress for the weather, not for the looks. Layer your clothing so you can remove it if required without leaving your body exposed to the elements. Using quality protective clothing means your body will be kept at a good temperature with little effort from yourself.
4. Feed your body – The drop in temperature means your body will burn more energy keeping itself warm. Therefore, you need to provide more fuel for it use doing so, which means packing a bit extra food and carrying some hot water for a good cuppa.
5. Be responsible – No matter what the conditions, always tell someone where you are going and carry a mobile phone if possible. Enough said on that point.