Yes, we live in Florida, but cold overcast days are not unheard of. We don’t have many where the mercury drops below 32-degrees for very long, but the combination of dark skies, little sunshine and salt spray can take its toll on our comfort and health.
Professional anglers and guides sometimes can’t pick their days, nor can fishing fanatics. If you’re in any category, I recommend you go, but that you pay attention to a few simple rules to stay warm and safe in what could be deadly weather:
Bundle up, but in layers— “Long johns” are great, particularly the thermal kind, but a pain if nature calls. I recommend a heavy rain suit (Frogg Toggs) or a heavy set of work overalls (Carrhardt). Your legs don’t get as cold as your torso, so two layers on the bottom are usually enough. Three or four layers of self-wicking undershirt, long-sleeve shirt and fleece turtleneck will help keep your body warm. Protect your ears with a balaclava-style hood or Buff headgear. Double up on socks, with a thin liner pair under light wool. And don’t wear flip-flops!
Stay Dry—Don’t be in a hurry and get spray all over you. In this weather, you will get ice on your boat and on yourself if you get into the wind. Carry a pair of rubber boots to use when you launch your boat, in case you have to get your feet in the water. And always put a cry change of clothes in the car for the ride home—just in case.
Don’t Drink—anything but non-alcoholic beverages. Alcohol doesn’t keep you warm, but makes you colder. And too much alcohol makes you stupid, anyway, especially when operating a boat (or any vehicle). Take warm soup, hot chocolate or coffee. And eat some food. Digesting some food keeps your stomach busy and that generates heat from within your body.
Know Your Limits—If you start shivering and can’t stop, go home. If any of your crew look blue and start shivering, go home. Be smart—the fish will be there on a warmer day.