Saturday, November 12, 2011

OBN Writing Prompt

It was done last Wednesday and since I was down with a bad tooth, here is an article I just published in the local newspaper.

Preparation essential for cold-weather fishing trips

Kautz’s king cab is filled with essential equipment and supplies for a cold-weather venture into the fisherman’s world.

With November here and December right around the corner, the weather is going to be a bit chillier. If you are an all-year fisherman, like I am, you need to take some precautions when you’re out chasing fish.

One of the big words is “layer.” Never a truer word has been spoken. You can always take off a layer or two, but you can’t add layers if you don’t have them. When I head out for a day of fishing, my truck is full of clothes. Because I drive an extra cab pickup doesn’t mean I have tons of space in the back. In fact, when you add in three tackle boxes, two buckets — one for fish and the other for bungee cords — a chair pad, a camping chair, tarp, first aid kit — handy to have if you stick a hook in a finger, as I did earlier this year at Lake Amador — and a big net, it doesn’t leave much space for clothes.

OK, I’ve got a tonneau cover on the bed, but it tends to leak when it rains a lot. It’s old, and all the molding around the edges is gone. So I just throw all the clothing on top of the tackle boxes and hope I can find it when it’s needed.

Let’s take a look at the conditions one at a time.

We’ll start with rain. I’m a weenie when it comes to fishing in the rain. Back on Oct. 10, while I was fishing at Lake Camanche, it rained for the final two hours I was there. That was OK — it was warm and the rain was warm. I don’t mind getting a little wet. Heck, I was raised in Florida. It rains all the time down there. I used to wear swimming goggles when I rode my bike to the beach, so I could see where I was going. But in the winter, that’s a different story.

You get caught in a winter rain and you can get into trouble in a hurry. Ever heard of hypothermia, which is subnormal temperature of the body? It can be deadly. You want to make sure you have proper clothing. I carry a rain coat, rain pants and a fleece hoodie to wear under it, as well as top and bottom thermals.

How about snow? I have a fleece-lined parka, two fleece watch caps, ear muffs, three types of gloves — neoprene, fleece-lined leather and fingerless fleece, with finger covers — and chemical hand warmers. I carry all this, with the exception of the parka, in my backpack that is always with me. I also have a blanket in the truck, stashed under the back seat.

One more thing about snow: you always want to make sure you have extra food and water with you. I have an ice chest that fits behind the passenger seat, in which I carry several bottles of water, a couple of sandwiches, half-a-dozen granola bars — I like chocolate-coated, chocolate chip ones, from Quaker — and a thermos of coffee. Sounds like a lot, but how long would it last? You can always take it home, but, if you need it, you can’t always get it.So, there you are up at, say, Red Lake, and there is six-inch-deep snow on the ground. The lake is still open, you’ve caught a nice limit of brook trout and you find yourself stuck in the snow. You’re sure glad you have that folding shovel you carry with you all the time and are able to dig yourself out. In the winter, I also carry a plastic snow shovel in the back, even though I have four-wheel drive and good, meaty snow tires.

To answer your question, was I a boy scout? Nope, but I can’t say enough about “being prepared.” If you’ve got the room, take it along, even if you don’t think you’ll need it, because you just might. One other thing you might do is make a list, so you can check off the items you think you might need, so you won’t forget anything. If you’re like me, put that list next to your chair in the living room and, when you think of something, it’s there and handy for you to write it down.

One last thing, remember to always, always, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.



  1. Yep, doesn't matter if you're in the mountains or plains, the weather can be deadly if you're not prepared. Good advice.

  2. Mark
    Great advice for anyone who is an outdoormen. The layer clothing is probably the most important for me, because I am to the age where I don't go off by myself anymore and I usually don't stay all day. I stop fishing after Christmas. January and February is our coldest months. March is my get-go month to get started again. Thanks for sharing. Good Post.

  3. Excellent post, Mark. Lots of good information for your readers, and, anyone else that spends time outdoors year round. Hypothermia almost got me once. Never happen again!

  4. Great article! It may sound like overkill to some but I am a firm adherent to overkill theory...better to have and not need than to need and not have.

  5. Great advise. When fishing here in the Drakensberg the weather can go from mid-summer to mid-winter in a couple of hours. Always have some extra, and dry clothing with me.