Winter in Southwest Montana seems to last a long time. There are years when there is snow on the ground for almost six months straight. Six. Months. Half of a year. In climates where winter hangs around, you can’t afford to be just a fair weather fisherman. You have to brave the conditions and hit the river at some point before cabin fever makes you do crazy things.
Probably the biggest hurdle winter fishermen face is staying warm. If you aren’t at least kind of warm out there, you’ll be miserable. And if you’re miserable you won’t be fishing near as long as you should be, and won’t enjoy it at all. It’s fishing, it should be fun.
One of the most important and often overlooked parts to your winter fishing system is your base layer. Your base layer sits next to your skin and is responsible for wicking moisture away from your skin, keeping you warm and dry. There are a lot of different options for base layers and long underwear on the market today and it can be hard to sift through them all.
But wait a minute, aren’t all base layers the same? Can’t you wear the same stuff for fishing, skiing, hiking, and any outdoor activity?
While you can use the same garments for just about everything, keep in mind that some are designed more for active sports. Standing in a river waving a stick in the middle of January is not very active. You want something that will retain the most heat while still wicking moisture away.
Patagonia has an excellent base layer product line. Their Capilene products are known throughout the outdoor industry as being some of the warmest, best performing, and most durable on the market. They rate their layers in a number based system. Cap 1 and 2 are designed more for warmer weather applications. Cap 3 and 4 (or expedition weight) are best for cold weather or fishing.
Simms also makes some excellent base layers, many of which include wool from sheep raised in Montana. Their tops and bottoms are great choices for a fishing base layer. One of the more popular pieces in the shop is the TechWool Zip Top. Using a product that uses Montana raised materials is pretty neat.
Get good base layers and you’ll reap the benefits. It’s worth the money.