It's October and 25 degrees this morning on the river. My breath is distinct in the morning light that barely reaches the over the hill. My fingers are starting to numb and I know it five minutes they'll be nearly useless. By then, however, it'll be time to get back and head in to open the shop.
Your hands might just be one of the most important tools in your box. For me, once my hands are done, I'm done. Most of us are happy to get some new hardware but balk at investing in things like our hands.
Here are six things that have kept me fishing longer in cold weather:
1. Start with warm hands
Yes, this is obvious but so important. Gloves are not able to warm up cold hands very well, that's not what they're designed to do. I crank the heat in the car on my way to the river so I can start warm.
2. Wear your gloves
You might be macho man but any heat you gained on your way to the river will quickly disappear without gloves. Even if they're fingerless, gloves will help you maintain dexterity in your fingers to choose flies, tie knots, and stay out longer.
3. Take Breaks
This was difficult for me years ago when I couldn't stand to do anything but fish every possible minute on the rivers. Taking a break, getting out of the water and moving around will get your body producing more heat so you can fish longer. I typically get out and move around every half an hour or so in the winter and it makes a big difference.
4. Use hand warmers
They're cheap, they're easy to use, they work. I usually open these on the drive and set them up on the dash with the defroster going and supercharge them. Keep them in your pockets and get your hands back in shape quicker when the time comes.
5. Bring a Towel
That's right, I carry a small packtowl with me because wet hands are cold hands. If you're lucky enough to have just landed and released a fish, take your time and dry your hands off!
6. Extra Gloves
In my bag are always a backup pair or two of gloves. Often a pair of fleece gloves and a big pair of mittens will save the day after my first pair gets soaked. If your rowing a big pair of waterproof mittens will be indispensable keeping your hands out of the wind when you're on the sticks and dry when you're pulling the anchor.
Check the all the new and updated gloves from Simms we carry at the shop: