Missing summertime? The northern hemisphere of the planet is currently tilting farther away from the sun. Though the warmth may fade to a crisp chill and the trees may be stripped bare, you don’t have to leave the fun left behind. The cold months are upon us, and it’s still a great time to go on elevated fishing adventures.

While a good amount of people choose to trade in their fishing rods for guns to go hunting during the winter, you can still continue on your fishing adventures. Winter fishing is a popular sport for many hardy anglers and is an enjoyable activity for common enthusiasts alike. Winter fishing can be the best time of year for fishing if planned well. Here’s your ultimate guide to fishing in the winter to help you have a great time and a successful catch. Remember, any fin is possible.

Location, Location, Location

Yes, location is everything if you desire to have some fabulous fishing experiences in the wintertime. Finding the right spot may take some research and knowledge. Proper preparation is paramount this time of year to save you and your friends and family from wasted hours out in the cold.

Choosing a location isn’t solely about knowing which species you hope to target; it is more about which areas are safe to travel to and fish within. Water levels can rise and fluctuate as snow melts, causing rivers and lakes to have elevated currents. High currents are dangerous for you and generally not ideal conditions for catching fish. You should opt for rivers and lakes with a continuously stable current instead.

If you’re fishing locally, reach out for recommendations in your area. The internet is also an excellent resource. Your state’s Department of Natural Resources has its own website which can inform you of prime fishing spots and the fish accessible within a river or lake. If you’re looking to travel, you can check out that state’s site or available guides online to get the 411.

Keep an Eye on the Weather

Fishing in the winter is an incredible experience if you have the right weather conditions. The wind is the prime aspect you’ll need to be on the lookout for. While sunny days are scarcer in winter, a bit of sun can be the advantage that will put you on top. A brighter day helps when you cast out your line.

As weather strongly affects the fishing activity levels, it’s all a game of touch-and-go and back and forth. Plan accordingly. Fish are most active before cold fronts. The best time to fish during the shorter days of winter is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Remember how the weather can be entirely unpredictable as you read through this ultimate guide to fishing in the winter. Take a good glance at the weather forecasts the day before and the morning of your fishing trip and check again before you head out the door. Check the radar to see if there is a chance of rain or snow. Knowing the temperature for the day will help you dress accordingly with the appropriate apparel.

Wear the Right Clothing

Keep your body nice and warm while outdoors! Nobody wants to get frostbite and risk losing a body part by not being prepared. Frostbite can set in fast. Experienced masters and newbies alike should know that not wearing the right clothing for the weather is a miserable and dangerous experience. Focus on your clothing from the bottom to the top. When you’re out winter fishing, warm feet are an absolute must. Double-layer your socks before putting on your boots, but make sure they’re not so tight that they make your feet go numb.

Wearing layers is vital while winter fishing as well. Wearing long underwear as a base layer will keep your legs toasty underneath pants and coveralls. Put on a lighter undershirt covered by a heavier fleece for your upper body’s mid-layer. A top layer of a wind jacket or waterproof jacket will be fundamental in combating the outside elements you encounter.

Getting wet and cold while out in the elements is the most common reason for people to cut their fishing trips short. Hats, face shields, and fingerless gloves are necessary accessories to have on while fishing as well. Hot packs and hand or toe warmers can be the most beneficial items on the chilliest of winter days. Stock up in advance for your benefit. You’ll thank yourself when they come in handy later.

Have the Necessary Gear on Hand

Once you’re certain that you are wearing the right clothing for your winter fishing trip, make sure you have the necessary gear for the task and adventure you are about to endeavor on. If you own your own gear, you know how hard the elements of winter can be on all your fishing gear.

Like how winter adds wear and tear on our vehicles, buildings, and bodies, your reels and lines can be strongly affected by winter weather as well. As the water is colder and gets on your line, reels can freeze up and cease moving. Imagine being out on a river, far from home, with a malfunctioning rod. Fishing gear requires regular maintenance. Know how to properly care for your items or take them to a professional who can repair them.

Bait Matters

What bait will be most advantageous for you on a wintertime fishing trip? It actually depends on the weather. In the frigid temperatures and cold water, live bait is your best bet. Even if you typically use lures, live bait is the better option to increase your catch rate.

Unlike the spring and summer months, fish move more slowly and aren’t as hungry in cold weather. Artificial bait and lures will move too quickly in the water and run the risk of spooking the fish. You can mimic sluggish movements with lures, but when you use live bait that reacts similarly to other fish in the cold water, hungry fish will initiate contact with your line.

Safety First Always

Safety is absolutely paramount when fishing in the winter. Any fishing enthusiast, even an experienced one, shouldn’t fish alone in the cold waters. You don’t want to risk falling in the water and having no available aid nearby. Always fish with others for safety.

You don’t have to be a “brain sturgeon” to catch some amazing fish! Having a guide will help, however. Whether you are looking to fish during the winter or summer seasons, River Adventures has the guided winter fishing trip for you. We’ve got your ultimate guide to fishing in the winter right here. Sturgeon fishing in Hells Canyon, Idaho, is available during the warmer months, and Steelhead fishing is available during the colder months. Contact us for further information today.

A Guide To Fishing in the Winter