As the temperatures continue to drop, the fishing in many cases gets better, the lakes certainly become less crowded and for those willing to brave the winter weather it can be a great time. Being prepared/dressed for the winter weather can make or brake your winter fishing trip.

Years ago while I was in the military I learned an acronym that I have continued to use and remember to this day. The acronym, C.O.L.D. stands for Clean, Overheating, Loose & Layers and Dry. The message behind each of these key words is as follows:

Clean; meaning keeping your clothing clean so that it can “breathe” properly, many of these new high tech fibers are breathable materials and this airflow is critical to the function of the garments, if the pores of the materials are clogged with dirt/debris they can’t “breathe.

Overheating; meaning to avoid overheating, when our bodies get hot we sweat/perspire as a cooling mechanism, that moisture evaporates from the skin and cools us or is absorbed into our clothing. Another perspective on this is to avoid wearing all your warm clothing in a heated space (car, house).

I usually save at least one layer to be added once I’m in the boat on the water.

Loose & Layers; just as it sounds, its recommended that your clothing be relatively loose and that you dress in multiple layers, loose fitting clothing allows for some air flow and the air in the space between the clothing to be warmed, dressing in layers allows for layers to be removed or added as the situation dictates.

Dry; is pretty straight forward, avoid getting your clothing wet from sweat/perspiration or other fluids and take wet clothing off as soon as possible.

Some additional information to consider:

No matter how good of a swimmer you are, all the extra clothing we wear in the winter will weigh you down when wet. A slip over the side of the boat in the winter can be fatal. Wear your life vest!

You loose roughly 60% of your body heat through your head, neck and shoulder area so some sort of cover for your head is a must.

Keep extra clothes in your boat so that you can add more layers if needed or change if your clothes become wet, an extra pair of socks can be a “toe” saver.

Caffeine and Nicotine are both vasoconstrictors (constrict blood vessels) and reduce the amount of blood flow to your extremities increasing your chances of getting frostbite.

This is a link to a short article about cold weather related injuries, helpful reading:

Stay dry and warm, enjoy the winter fishing.

There is no substitute for time on the water!

Rusty White of Rock Hill is a professional fisherman and full-time guide on the Catawba chain of lakes, offering full- and half-day services. For more information, visit