Last Minute Winter Fishing Checklist

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Seasons may change, but the fish never stop biting!

Depending on where you live, you may have some steps to take to prep for cold-weather fishing. We’re already a few weeks into winter, but we’ve got a few last-minute tips to add to your winter fishing checklist.

Winter Gear

Fishing Rods: What fishing rods are you using? If you are located in the north, you might be trading your traditional rod for an ice fishing reel, but if you’re not, you could probably get away with using the same old pole throughout the winter. Though anglers have found success down-sizing when fishing in lakes, rivers, or bays due to changes in water visibility between the seasons. Since cold weather generates more transparent water, fish that would bite in the summer may see through your line in the winter. 

Leaders: Besides down-sizing your fishing pole, consider using leaders that are less perceptible underwater, like the fluorocarbon kind. 

Clothing: Dressing for the weather is critical when going out on the water in the winter. You’ll need to dress in base and mid-layers and have some good rain gear to stay dry. Hypothermia can still happen at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit – when body temps are cooled by rain or immersed by water. 

Finding a nice pair of boots and a hat is paramount too. As for gloves, you will need a kind that can endure the elements and is specific to winter fishing. Bulky winter gloves just won’t do.


Life Jackets: Dressing for winter is a huge factor when discussing boater safety. Aside from the clothing we discussed above, boaters should wear life jackets invariably while onboard. You do not want to risk not wearing one to find yourself in freezing waters – as it’s challenging to put a life jacket on while fully submerged.

Weather: When consulting your winter fishing checklist, knowing the weather has got to be near the top! With fewer boaters out on the lakes and bays, you’ll need to choose your excursion days wisely. If mechanical issues happen, it may be hard to find help from passersby.

Share Your Location/Know Your Radio: Keep all lines of communication open in case emergencies happen on the water. Share location and plans with family and friends nearby so they can help out if you run out of gas or catch too many fish and need an extra cooler. 

4 Winter Fishing Tips

Next on the winter fishing checklist is to remember these simple winter fishing tips. These suggestions may be contingent on your geographical location, but some are just universal.

  1. Cold water generally renders fish a little sluggish due to a lowered metabolism. This will cause them to be slow to bite!
  2. Fish retreat to deeper, consistently warmer waters in the winter months. However, you can find that they’ll gather in sun-soaked shallow waters too.
  3. Cast the heartier baits! In the wintertime, fish lack the nutrients they typically have during the other seasons. If you present them with bigger bait, you’ll snag them.
  4. They’re lurking in the weeds! Weeds in bodies of water tend to diminish over the winter but remain in the deeper recesses. That’s where some fish will live, lingering in the shadows.

If you’re reeling them in all winter, you’ve probably already winterized your boat. But if you haven’t started winterizing yet, check out our recent blog with some easy tips, or if you don’t feel fully confident in your skills, have one of our local dealers do it for you. Once you’ve done that, consider your winter fishing checklist complete.

At Carolina Skiff, building one of the best quality boats for a great price has always been our goal. Whether you’re looking for a pleasure boat, fishing boat, or runabout boat, Carolina Skiff delivers the most in value, quality, and style. Find a Carolina Skiff dealer near you today, or visit https://carolinaskiff.com to learn more.