JerryKunnath writes "Well frigid fishing conditions are now present all over the Great Lakes area, and fair weather fishers are now seeking the comfort of their pajamas and the glow from their fireplaces. With the proper insulating foundations under your waders, you can almost gaurantee that you will be able to take to the rivers and streams and take advantage of new runs of fresh steelies, late season coho's and an absence of fishing competition from the 'fireplace' fishermen.
We all probably know by now the importance of placing layers of the new and popular high tech, insulating clothing next to our skin, whether on our limbs or torsos, when we venture out into the cold that Mother Nature has to offer to us this time of year. The days of hitting the streams in winter clad in 'rubber' hip boots and chest waders are pretty much history. The waders that are now available, mostly in Gor-Tex or their equivalent, have replaced those old rubber waders in almost all waters that I have fished. These new waders, such as Simms Gore-Tex waders, are light weight, breathable, easy to walk in, warm, and just plainly more pleasant to spend the day in than their old counterparts made of rubber and coated nylon. They not only do a pretty good job of keeping you warm by wicking moisture away from your skin and clothing, but they provide ease of movement, even in some fairly frigid conditions.
But to truly get the maximum benefit of these modern marvels, you really need to make sure that you layer the right materials under them, from next to your skin till the Gore-Tex layer of the waders. My frigid weather fishing buddies and myself have pretty much forgone even neoprene waders on even the coldest forrays to the rivers. We start with polypropylene underwear, both tops and bottoms, in weights that are most comfortable for each of us. On top of the long johns, we usually layer a pair of polar fleece wading pants. They do a great job of retaining body heat, wicking sweat and moisture away from the legs and other environs, and are comfortable, providing ease of movement. On the feet, right next to the skin, we place a pair of thin polypropylene hiking liner socks. Just like the ones that mountain hikers wear on their feet on long hikes. These give a layer of wicking cloth next to the feet, which can be a real moisture generator, and they also provide a good barrier between your skin and rubbing folds that may form in your wading boots from folded sock foot waders. On top of this thin layer sock, wear a thicker sock of polypropylene that has thick folds or loops on the inside of the sock. These may also be blended with quantities of wool, still one of nature?s best insulators. I f you have the room in your boots, you may also wear another sock over these, perhaps a sock of pure wool or one of the new wool socks such as the 'Smart Wool' brand. These are truly great footwear. They are warm, comfortable, provide cushioning for the sole and heal, and are very wear resistant and durable as well. Also make sure that you carry a spare pair of socks with you on the river, or at least in your vehicle, making replacing socks in the middle of the day a possibility. I have found that a fresh pair of warm, dry socks can make tired cold feet feel pretty new quickly.
One of the tricks that I use to keep my feet and legs toasty warm is to wear the above mentioned socks in lengths that reach up over my calves. This provides extra insulation for my legs, helping to retain more heat. They also then can be worn over the polar fleece pant legs, helping to keep them from crawling up your legs during the day. Another product that I carry in my wading vest is a pair or two of the 'toe warmer' pads. These nifty little items are made by the same people that make the disposable hand warmers. You know the ones, they are activated by opening the wrapper, and letting air make the contents react with each other, creating about three to four hours of pleasant heat. They usually have an adhesive patch that lets you anchor them to the tops of your toes to your socks, giving some added warmth to your feet. For most people, it?s the toes that get frozen first.
But also remember that keeping your body core temperature up by proper insulation of your chest, abdomen and back [especially the kidney area] will in turn give you added warmth for your extremities. Keeping the body core temp where it should be allows your bodies heat regulators to send warm, needed blood to the limbs, instead of trying to keep it in the main chambers.
Last but not least, during the winter trips to the stream, keep a good lighter or waterproof matches, along with fire starter sticks in your fishing vest for those emergencies when only a quickly laid fire will do. Also make sure that you eat well and drink plenty of water while on the river. Keep your energy levels high and keep your body from dehydrating. All this helps to keep you warm and healthy so that you can enjoy our great outdoors, no matter what the temps.
The new waders, underwear, and layered synthetic clothing that is available now can get you out of doors. But you need to make sure that you cover all the bases to help these products warm your butt.