Whenever I plan a winter session or campaign I always make sure I have the required kit with me to stay warm and comfortable, no matter what the weather throws at me. If I’m cold or uncomfortable because of the conditions then I’m not going to be fishing to my best ability and I will probably cut my session short or think twice before I venture out the following week. To be honest I haven’t really felt that way in a number of years because I have learnt the hard way to make sure I get everything right.
This may sound obvious to some people, but the right clothing is very important. I have spoken to anglers whose idea of winter clothing is an extra jacket! This might be okay on some winter days, especially if you are active, but after us Carp anglers have barrowed our gear to the swim and set up, Carp fishing turns into a very static waiting game where the cold can really set in. I wasn’t surprised not to see the afore mentioned angler again all winter. For me keeping warm is all about wearing the correct clothing and layering up.
It’s important to start with a good base layer to keep the heat in. The Chub Vantage version is just the job for keeping the chill out and it seems a lot more breathable than a lot of others I have tried. But a word of warning – don’t let your other half see you wearing just the base layer, it’s not a good look! Well, unless she likes the camp 1950’s Robin Hood / Kermit the Frog styling! But there is no getting around that, long johns / base layers just aren’t flattering.
Over the base layer I wear my normal fishing clothes: cargo / guide trouser, tee shirt, hoody, and that is pretty much how I arrive at the lake. However, I always ensure I have the Soft Shell Jacket with me because this is fantastic at keeping the cold wind at bay. The All Weather Suit is also useful for those chilly evenings. It goes without saying that I always bring a beanie hat and gloves, and I like a gaiter to stop the heat escaping from my neck. I find that the Chub Vantage range ticks all the boxes for the afore mentioned clothing, but I’m sure there are other ranges available from other fishing manufacturers or outdoor shops. An important tip with winter fishing is to have a spare set of clothes in the car in case you get wet. It’s impossible to dry clothes on the bank in winter so I find that a spare tee shirt, hoody and trousers are enough to see me through the night.
A good quality 5 season sleeping bag is also very important in winter. Many years ago I ventured out in a less than adequate, cheap camping bag and, although it claimed it was for all year round use I can assure you it wasn’t! Even though the temperature only dipped just below freezing I was very cold – I’m just glad I had the sense to bring a hot water bottle with me, refilling it with boiling water every couple of hours through the night was a pain, but it could have been worse. I’m sure everyone reading this can guess which bag a use now (Chub Cloud 9 5 Season) and with the thermal sleeve I have never been cold at night, even in temperatures down to -6!
Bivvies are also important in the cold weather and, even though I try to fish them with an open front I wouldn’t dream of leaving the front at home or fishing under a brolly. The winter weather can turn quickly and if the wind changes and the rain / sleet starts I want to be zipped up in seconds. I do like a second skin on the bivvy in winter, even with an open front because it stops condensation forming on the inside of the bivvy and this can cause damp when it drips on to the sleeping bag.
My last tip is to make sure you have the kit to make a hot drink. This can often make a difference to how cold you feel during the session and a hot meal is always an added bonus. But be careful with the burner and never use it in a sealed bivvy. I have heard a few stories about burnt bivvies or worse. It seems there is at least one case each year where an angler has suffocated or suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.
Be safe and keep warm.
Products mentioned in this article can be purchased from your Chub Dealer.