This is a worst-case scenario anglers never think of, and could easily kill them if they’re unprepared.
Thanks to the toughest Marine Corps institutions I have learned what it's like to be miserably cold.
Have you ever swam across open water, with no wetsuit, in the dead of January in North Carolina?
I have. All thanks to Reconnaissance Indoctrination Platoon.
Our instructors took us to the bleeding edge of hypothermia, to weed out the weak and show us how dangerous it was so we'd know to avoid it in an operational environment.
By now you’re probably thinking “What the heck does this have to do with inshore fishing?”
During those trying times I witnessed some of the Marine Corps' toughest men drop like flies before turning blue and being evacuated to receive medical attention.
So, if they couldn't hack it against the elements, could you?
If you’ve spent your life avoiding such unpleasantry (smart on your part) then there is no way you can know.
And because you don’t, you may not be prepared when the worst happens.
The difference is that nobody will be there to save you and more than your fishing trip will end unexpectedly.
Don’t Fall in the Water
The odds of an angler hyping out are pretty darned good during the winter.
Think about it, what is surrounding you in the marsh?
That’s right, a lot of water.
What’s between you and the nearest shelter? Probably a lot of water.
Consider This Example
Stump Lagoon, a popular trout spot in the winter, is a twelve mile run from the nearest marina.
Imagine being soaking wet, running 35mph through near-freezing temperature.
Would you make it?
Not without suffering greatly, or worse.
You probably get the picture by now.
So, keep reading to see how you can be prepared for this worst case scenario.
Spare Clothes and a Dry Bag
If you fall in the water you need to get back in your boat, get dry and change clothes.
It's mandatory in order to survive and a lot easier if the following items are safely tucked away in a waterproof bag:
I think it’s obvious you’d use the towel to dry off. ;)
It may not be so obvious that you’d need to strip off wet clothes to do this. All of them.
It's miserable, but you'll get dry faster to put on fresh clothes.
Thick wool socks, thermals and a flight suit (to fit other people, should they need it) are all good choices.
You can bring spare shoes if you'd like, but the key detail is a good dry bag.
No boat storage is truly dry and, even if it were, I wouldn’t trust it with my life.
I’ve used dry bags with waterproof zippers, but prefer the kind that fold to create a seal. A 30 liter dry bag is plenty big enough to put everything inside, and this is the kind I use.
You don’t have to pack the exact items I have. Just pack something that is warm and can get you back to the boat launch.
Inshore fishing is fun but – like anything – has its dangers.
Smart inshore anglers recognize these, prepare for them, and help others do the same.
Having a dry bag with spare clothes is one way of doing that. This way you fish with peace of mind.
Do you have your own kit that you keep? How do you prepare for this worst case scenario? Comment below!