When I started fishing for winter Steelhead, over forty years ago, and being much younger then, a jacket and a good pair of boots was all and I was ready. As the old saying goes with age comes wisdom and I guess this must be true. I have been steelhead fishing when my hands and feet were so cold that you could not fish and often wondered if it was even worth the pain just for a chance to hook a steelhead.
I have since learned that dressing correctly will not only improve your fishing success it will make the experience so much more enjoyable. If you fish for steelhead, you are eventually going to find yourself fishing under some of Mother Nature’s worst conditions. While many angler will retreat to the comfort of there warm cozy recliner when the weather turns cold and nasty. They are missing some of the best steelhead fishing as we have found that the worst the weather the better the steelhead fishing.
I tell you my friends, there is nothing like the comfort of being warm. You are going to find yourself steelheading when the temperature is in the 30’s with rain, snow, and sleet. Moreover, yes, you may very well have all three during the same fishing trip. You will be glad you have the appropriate gear to keep you warm. Being able to keep warm will make steelhead fishing enjoyable instead of a test to prove just how cold you can get and still fish.
Here is my suggested checklist when for winter steelhead fishing.
1. Waterproof Boots
A good pair of waterproof boots is necessary; I do not care how careful you are eventually you find yourself stepping in the river. Even if you manage to stay out of the river fishing when the rain and snow is coming down, your feet are going to get wet just walking down to the river once your feet are wet and cold you will be cold the rest of the day.
2. Rain coat.
Another must have item. The raincoat really comes down to your own comfort. The bottom line here is you want something to keep you dry in a driving rain or snowstorm.
3. Your hat.
I like a hat with a wide brim to keep the rain off your ears and from running down your neck. A good, quality oilskin hat that will keep your head dry and shed the rain away from your neck is my preferred choice. Do not forget about a good stocking cap too if it is not raining but you find the wind, blowing you just cannot beat the comfort and warmth of a good stocking cap. A dry head is a warm head and since you, loose a majority of your body’s heat through your head a warm head means a warm body.
There are all kinds of things out there now. You can use anything designed to keep the moisture out and the heat in. Over that, I usually wear something of wool, or some other type of material that will shed water. Remember to dress in layers and the number of layers all depends on how warm or cold-blooded you are. Some people like 3-4 layers, while others just 1 or 2. You can often find some great deals at your local REI or Sporting goods store for these items.
You are going to need to keep your hand warm as well, a thin warm pair of gloves that slip on and off quickly are what I prefer some of my partners like the fingerless gloves as well. Try not to get gloves that are thick and bulky though as they make it extremely hard to fish in. If you really need the added thickness to keep your hands warm then go ahead and use them, it is better to have warm hand and adjust your fishing techniques then to risk the chance of frostbite, or just have your fingers so cold that they do not want to work right.
6. Insulated Coveralls
I have recently started using insulated coveralls and I must say that I do enjoy them. If you were thinking about coveralls, I would recommend that you find some with the zippers that come up the full length of both legs they are much easier to put on and off without having to take off you boots. That way you can take them with you and if you need them once you arrive at the river you can just slip them on.
7. Get yourself a dry bag.
You will not regret having an extra set of clothes for emergencies. You never know when you will slip on a rock, or get plain soaked due to heavy weather. Just Keep your dry bag in the truck or boat and it will be ready should you ever need it.
Now that you have the clothes to keep you warm and dry we will start talking about Steelhead Rods and Reels which one you need and which ones are just nice to have. Stay tuned for our next article
Steelhead, Salmon and Trout Fishing has been a passion of mine since I was a young boy. Most of my free time was spent on lakes and streams here in the northwest, and I have picked up on some interesting facts about fishing for these species over the last 45 years. I would like to share them with you through articles and at my websites I hope you find them helpful and enjoyable. So please stop by check out some information or just stock up on your fishing gear. Hope to see you on the river! RR Smith