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How To Dress For Winter Steelhead Fishing
When I started fishing for winter Steelhead a few years ago, I had nothing. Until then, I was a “fair-weather” fisherman who didn't really know what cold was. Boy did I find out fast. I will never forget my first time out. I had just hooked up with a longtime friend of mine who I had not seen since grade school. Steve was going to teach me all about Steelhead & Salmon fishing.
It was mid December, the 16th of 1999 I think. We met at Steve’s house at about 5 am. All I was wearing was my jeans, T-shirt, baseball cap, regular shoes and a warm weather jacket in the car. Steve just looked at me. “Are you nuts?” He said.
“You're going to freeze.” Well, I replied this is about all I have. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll make it. Let’s go” No sooner did we get to the river I was just that, freezing. But hey, I’m stoked because I’m going to catch me a long over-due Steelhead. I remember looking at him as I was just about numb to the core and noticing he was warm as could be. It didn't take long to ask “Ok, how much is all that and where can I get it”. I wasn't going to go through that kind of day ever again. By God’s grace, I did catch my first ever Steelhead that day but not without paying a heavy price. By my next trip out I managed to up my gear with a pair of waders, along with a breathable raincoat.
The only thing missing was head wear. “I knew I was forgetting something.” It was another cold day. It was uncomfortable, but at least not unbearable like my first time out. I had a stocking cap, so it ended up being ok. I tell you my friends, there is nothing like the comfort of being warm. When the temperature is in the 30’s with rain, snow, and sleet. (Yes, I have had all 3!). You will be glad you have the gear. Also, being warm gives you so much more of a good time.
Here is my suggested checklist when going out for a day on the river. 1. Waders. You can find these just about everywhere. Just like anything else, you get what you pay for. I recommend the breathable Simms brand G3’s or G4’s being the top of the line. They do run a bit high, in the price range from about $350 to $699. You can get the Rivertek Stockingfoots for $299. Rivertek is about as low as I would go for winter. You can also go with the long time stand by in Neoprene 3.
5 mm. You can get into a pair of these in the price range of $80 to $200. 2. Rain coat. Another must have. Rain coats really come down to your own comfort. Personally, I need to feel loose, and agile. Therefore, I use a tighter, lighter style in Columbia. The bottom line is dry.
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