Brad Laabs: Dress warm, stay dry, during fall fishing
Water temperatures have dropped below 50 degrees now and we are into a full-fledged fall fishing pattern.
We will still have several weeks of open water fishing left before we transition to the hard water season. The rain and snow we have received the last couple of weeks has improved the public access situation for some lakes.
We still have many lakes that have bad access situations due to low water levels, and require caution when launching and loading to avoid prop problems. Many of the docks have been removed so plan accordingly for launching in those situations.
Waterproof boots or waders can be very handy. Paddles or push poles in the boat can make getting in and out from shore a bit easier. In many ramp situations you will not be able to beach the boat close enough to have your partner get in the boat without stepping in the water.
A bucket of sand can be a help on slippery ramps. With the overnight freezing temperatures, water on the ramps will turn to ice. Most early mornings will have icy ramp conditions. Drain your trailer before pulling all the way out to avoid getting more water on the ramp that can freeze.
Remember….it’s not just all about you! Think of others that may be launching for some fall fishing also.
When fishing the cold water season you will need to dress warmer than you would prepare for if you were just going outside for the day. It will always be cooler on the water, especially if there is any wind.
Wind sweeping across 40 some degree water will wick body heat rapidly if you are not dressed properly. Traveling across the water can be like being in super air conditioning. Dress in layers and take more than you think you will need. It is easier to take layers off than it is to put on what you don’t have with you.
Wear a waterproof/windproof outside layer. Getting splashed or wet from rain, sleet or snow can get you chilled and make it too uncomfortable to fish. It is very important to keep your feet, head and hands warm. Warm boots, hat and gloves can save a fishing trip.
When dressed in heavy gear fishing in cold water conditions it is never a dumb idea to wear a life jacket. A towel in the boat for drying hands can help keep hands more comfortable and make it easier to slip your gloves back on.
The chemical reacting heat packs are awesome for use in these situations. They are inexpensive, work well and are worth having with you. Some late fall, cold open water anglers will put fish house heaters in the boat to help dry and warm hands. They can be great to take a bite out of the cold in the boat.
They can also be dangerous, so be sure to keep clothing away from the heaters.
Alcohol and boating is never a smart behavior, but can be even more dangerous (for many reasons) during this cold water period.
When dressed properly, fishing in the cold fall weather is very comfortable. It is very peaceful on the lakes this time of year. Boat traffic is minimal and you don’t have to contend with recreational boats, pontoons, and jet skis.
There is less fishing pressure so you will have no problem fishing were you want. Other anglers on the lake at this time of year have the same passion for the sport you do so a camaraderie exists on the lakes in the late fall.
This can be a time when numbers and/or quality of fish can be caught. Trophy fish getting caught in the late fall is not uncommon.
Get out and fish, have fun, make good decisions, and stay safe.