This Small Wintertime Measure Could Save Your Ass | Louisiana Fishing Blog
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This Small Wintertime Measure Could Save Your Ass

It’s a worst-case scenario anglers never think of, and can easily kill them if they’re not prepared.

We stood in a long row on the shoreline, knowing we were about to eat a huge sh*t sandwich.

“Hey RIP, Lance Corporal Not-On-Time took it upon himself to be late.”

This man, wearing a kelly-green hoodie, black shorts and “badass” tattooed on his wrist, didn’t yell, but spoke matter-of-factly.

Myself and others returned from a 96-hour liberty period, on time.

But one failed to do so.

We were small parts of a larger machine: When one fails, everyone fails.

And since one must be punished, everyone shall be punished.

It’s simply part of the indoctrination to earn that kelly-green hoodie and black shorts.

But that goal was nowhere in sight. Just our breath in the cold, gray Carolina air – and a shallow pond.

A thin layer of ice stretched across the top of that pond, perfectly, like a mirror.

“RIP, prepare to crossover!”

“Aye, Corporal”,  thundered thirty voices in unison.


A mass of olive drab entered the pond, smashing the mirror.

My breath was instantly taken away, but I stayed under the surface and swam to the other side, holding what breath was left.

It was so &$%*ing cold. 

Emerging from the other side, we crawled out and lined up again, knowing what was coming next.


And we did.


And we did again.

I couldn’t feel my arms and legs. I could barely stand.

Quitting would have been the easy choice, but I desired what those black shorts represented. And to get that, I had to be that.

The man with the tattoo knew what he was doing. Nobody was hyping out, not yet, but we were close.

“RIP, what happens when one is late?”

“We miss extract, Corporal.”

“And the cost of missing extract?”

“We all die, Corporal.”

“You are a team. When one fails, you all fail. Look after each other. Get back to your rooms and get warm, right now.”

You’re probably thinking “What the heck does this have to do with inshore fishing?”

A lot.

Getting thrashed in Recon Indoctrination Platoon taught me many lessons. In this case, not the consequence of tardiness, but what it’s like to be unimaginably cold.

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.

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.

Stump Lagoon, a popular trout spot in the winter, is a twelve mile run to the nearest marina.

Imagine being soaking wet, running 35mph through near-freezing temperature.

Would you make it?

Not without suffering greatly, or worse.

I think you have the picture.

This is how you can be prepared before your next fishing trip.

Spare Clothes and a Dry Bag

These are the items I have on-hand to get dry and warm:

  • fresh towel
  • spare clothes
  • dry 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.

For spare clothes I keep thick wool socks, thermals and a flight suit (to fit other people, should they need it).

I don’t keep spare shoes, mostly because they don’t fit in the dry bag I have. Maybe I should.

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 20 liter dry bag is plenty big enough to put everything inside.


You don’t have to pack the exact items I have. Just pack something that is warm and can get you back to the launch.


Inshore fishing is fun but – like anything – has its dangers.

Good 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.

Tight lines, y’all.

About the Author Devin Denman

Devin is the founder of Louisiana Fishing Blog and enjoys exploring new fishing spots on Louisiana's coast. He prefers using artificial lures and casting tackle, but won't hesitate to break out a popping cork when the time is right.

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  • Devin Denman says:

    That’s a great idea, thanks for sharing!

  • Jeff Lee says:

    Recently I have individually vacuum sealed a set of clothes for me. my son and wife and stored them in the boat. This doesn’t take up much space i have them strapped in side my centre console compartment

  • Devin Denman says:

    Ahhhh, that’s a very good point.

    Getting up and out of the water is difficult unless one is a strong swimmer, so practicing it before hand is a great idea.

  • Devin Denman says:

    Jeff, that’s a good question.

    Yes, it’s that much easier to fall in, for sure.

    I’m wondering if a dry suit wouldn’t be a better idea, or even a wetsuit, so you are at least insulated from the initial immersion.

    I suppose you could carry a dry bag and change out on shore, as well.

  • Devin Denman says:

    Most excellent. Thanks for commenting!

  • JBurge says:

    Thanks Capt!
    Awesome advice!!

    I Completely forgot about spares clothes this past winter, which I’ve always had years before.

    After we cleaned out & re-stocked the boat we forgot (or if y’all change boats). Don’t forget ur emergency gear!

    Appreciate the reminder & the Dry Bag thing Capt!!

  • Jeffbarca0579 says:

    This is an excellent article, especially those that fish with a boat and may have to drive twelve miles back to the launch going 35 mph. But I do have a follow up question. I also like to fish out of a kayak and yes, sometimes in the winter. Chances are, I might tip over in that kayak easier than a boat. Any suggestions here? Do I still carry a dry bag, pull myself to a shoreline and get dressed there or what? I’ll wait for your response. Thanks.

  • Apachechas says:

    Good advice Devin and another good piece is to be sure you can get back in your boat unassisted while wearing your life jacket. Smart to practice that in the summer time to avoid surprises when you are alone and up to your neck in cold water!

  • Devin Denman says:

    Hey Randy, thanks for commenting.

    In the article I provide an Amazon link.

    Otherwise I suggest trying an outdoors store like Academy, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bass Pro, etc.

    Just make sure you get at least a 20 liter bag. Anything smaller may not be big enough.

  • Randy Harkins says:

    Where can you find a place that sells a good dry bag.

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