Stay warm and get more bites

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

The weather may be mild where you live, but it snowed in Michigan this week.

That always leads my southern buddies to ask, “How can you live up there in that weather?”

The answer is easy. Aside from this being God’s Country when it comes to fishing and hunting, we Michiganders know how to dress warm and enjoy a winter day in the outdoors.

Today’s cold weather gear allows us to do that. It keeps us warm without sacrificing comfort or mobility.

That’s why the weather doesn’t bother me when I fish an Elite tournament held in freezing, inclement weather.

I remember one year when, while practicing for a tournament in Birmingham, it was 34 degrees and snowed and sleeted three inches. I was the first man to launch that morning and the last man to leave the lake that evening, and I never got cold. I was prepared and the other guys, who left the lake early, weren’t.

Here’s how I do it, head-to-toe:

Body up

It all starts with a layering system that starts with Under Armour cold gear in a turtle neck design. It keeps my core warm, from ankles to the throat, and wicks away moisture.

If it’s really cold, I add a layer of fleece, expedition-style, insulated underwear over the Under Armour to help trap in the heat. I may wear a sweatshirt over that and a pair of comfortable jeans.

My final layer is the Bass Pro Shops Gore-Tex 100 MPH rain suit. It not only keeps me dry, but it keeps the wind out, especially when I’m running my boat a high speeds. And it retains heat.

With this layering system, I can still remove pieces of clothing as it warms up during the day.

Feet

I wear Irish Setter Gore-Tex Kangaroo leather Upland Bird Hunting boots. They’re waterproof for those cold, rainy days; and, when it’s really cold, I have a slightly larger pair that fit comfortably over heavy, insulated socks. These boots come over the ankle, were designed for walking and are extremely comfortable in a boat.

Hands

I need to retain a good feel, so I wear Under Armour full-fingered liner gloves when handling the rod. They aren’t waterproof, but even when damp, they keep my hands warm and give me freedom to handle a rod and maintain a good feel. If a pair gets wet, I switch to backups, and the wet ones dry almost instantly. For long boat runs, I wear heavier Gore-Tex gloves over my liners.

I also carry inexpensive, throwaway hand warmers in my pockets for warming the finger tips when necessary. They’re also offered in toe warmer versions that slip into boots.

Face and head

I wear a beanie hat over an Under Armour full-face cold gear mask. If it’s raining, I wear Oakley Ski Goggles over my sunglasses when making boat runs.

Staying warm is critical to maintaining concentration when fishing in cold, inclement weather. If you dress properly and utilize the gear we have today, you won’t notice the weather but will feel the subtle bites you’re getting – the ones that your shivering buddies will never notice.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude.

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