Surviving Brutally Cold Conditions
by John Berry
When I got up this morning it was one degree and there were lake wind advisories for the fifteen to twenty five mile an hour winds coming from the North West. This made the wind chill drop down to minus eighteen when I checked. The predicted high for the day was seven degrees. To make the conditions a bit more interesting there was a two inch layer of snow and ice covering everything in sight. It was the worst winter conditions that I can remember. All of the local schools were closed. Though the road in front of my house had been snow plowed the street was still slick and had a solid glaze of ice. My wife, Lori, had almost slipped when walking our yellow lab Tilley. Even Tilley with her thick fur coat didn’t want to be out in it. Luckily for me there were no clients expecting me to pick them up at 7:30 AM.
Though I have written about fishing in cold weather, this was something else and represented truly dangerous conditions. The possibility of hypothermia is a very real concern. This is a lowering of the core body temperature and could result in death. Early symptoms are confusion and fatigue which can make things worse. The best way to avoid it is to dress properly and maintain core body temperature.
Another problem is frostbite. This is when body tissue freezes. It normally happens on exposed extremities and could result in amputation of the affected body part. The first signs are redness or pain in the affected area. Here again the best way to avoid it is to dress properly and take special care to observe exposed skin.
The best way to survive comfortably under these conditions is to stay inside. Take a seat near the fire and tie a few flies. If you must go outside and go fishing you need to consider just how can you wear enough clothing to keep you warm under these conditions?
The secret is to dress in layers. Next to the skin you should wear a wicking layer that would wick moisture away from the body. Though polypropylene has been the fabric of choice for the past couple of decades, merino wool is the up and coming fabric. Merino overcomes some of the problems usually associated with wool. It is itch free and can be washed at home in a washing machine. It wicks well, is odor free and maintains up to sixty percent of its insulating ability when wet. Many of the top outdoor gear manufacturers like Orvis, Simms and Patagonia are now offering merino wool base layers. I choose merino for my base layer when the temperature drops below freezing.
The insulating layer or layers comes next. Fleece is always a good choice but here again wool is coming on strong. My absolute favorite layer for this type of weather is a classic Irish Fisherman’s sweater. Mine is the heaviest warmest garment that I own. I have several wool sweaters in various weights and try to match their weight to the temperature. Pendleton wool shirts are also well suited to layering. For my lower torso I choose a pair of fleece lined blue jeans or a pair of heavy wool pants. Down is a great insulator but can lose its insulating ability when wet. I regularly wear a down jacket or vest and take care to keep them dry.
The outer layer is the shell which should be wind and waterproof. The best ones should also breathe to prevent the buildup of moisture. For this I prefer Gore-Tex or waxed cotton. Gore-Tex is very water proof and generally much lighter while waxed cotton is generally more durable and can be easily re proofed, which can extend its life indefinitely.
The feet require protection. I like heavy wool socks coupled with polypropylene liners although heavy polypropylene socks work well. If you wear more than one layer of socks, make sure that your foot wear is loose enough for you to wiggle your toes. Footwear that is too tight will make you colder. Gloves are important to keep your hands warm. If it is above freezing, I wear wool fingerless gloves. When it is below freezing, I wear windproof polypropylene fingerless gloves with pullover mittens attached. Hand warmer pockets on your shell layer are a must. Put a disposable chemical hand warmer in each hand warmer pocket for extra warmth (the hand warmers designed for your feet are larger and put out more heat).
Don’t forget a good hat. An easy solution is a wool knit cap. I prefer a billed fleece hat with earflaps to keep my ears warm and a waterproof shell to protect me from wind and snow. A hood on your shell is also a good idea. A wool or polypropylene scarf is great to keep your neck and face warm. Buff makes a neck gaiter from merino wool that works well for this purpose.
In addition to dressing properly, there are some basic strategies to stay comfortable when fishing in this kind of weather. Wading will be much warmer than fishing from a boat. There is nowhere to hide from the wind in a boat. In our tailwaters, the water temperature is constant year round is often much warmer than the air temperature. I have fished many times when the best way to warm up was to wade deeper. You can also escape the effects of a lot of the heavy wind in this manner.
Consider starting a warming fire streamside. Sometimes you just have to warm up. I always carry a spare lighter with me. There have been several days, when stopping for a few minutes to warm up by a fire, have made the difference between continuing fishing for a few more hours and going home. A thermos of hot coffee or cocoa is always a good idea. Avoid alcohol as it dilates the blood vessels. While it makes you feel warmer, it robs warmth from the body core and can make you susceptible to hypothermia.
If you choose to go fishing in weather like this, you will have it to yourself. Be sure and dress properly and stay warm. Above all else, stay safe.
Big Horn Youth Adventure - 2014
The smile shown in this photo is that of Brendan Tippen a 2012 Adventure participant from Dallas, Texas.
A great opportunity for young people to expand their knowledge of fly fishing is on the horizon. The Bighorn River Youth Adventure is currently taking applications for the 2014 program at Fort Smith, MT on the banks of the world famous Bighorn River. Twelve young fly fishers will be invited by the Bighorn River Alliance for a four day fly tying, fly casting and fly fishing adventure. All meals, lodging, airport shuttles and guides will be provided free of charge. Air transportation to Billings or transportation directly to Fort Smith must be secured by the participant’s parents, guardian, fly fishing club.
The dates for the Bighorn Youth Adventure will be June 24 through 27, 2014 with a travel day before and after. All clubs, councils and individuals are urged to encourage applications from young anglers.
TRAVEL ASSISTANCE GRANTS AVALIABLE
Travel assistance grants are available on a limited basis and granted based on financial need. Thru the generosity of donors and supporters we are pleased to be able to help with transportation expenses for some of our attendees. We are sincerely encouraging applications from youngsters who would otherwise be unable to attend our program. We are also encouraging fly fishing clubs to participate in the travel grant program. Contact Frank Johnson for information. (Contact Information below)
Any youth, male or female, ages 14 thru 18. All applicants must ‘KIND OF’ KNOW HOW TO FLY FISH AND ‘KIND OF’ KNOW HOW TO TIE FLIES. We are seeking youngsters who want to experience the joy of a ‘big time’ fly fishing adventure and are willing to return home to mentor other young people and encourage others to take part in the great activity of fly fishing.
We encourage applications from youngsters who do not otherwise have the opportunity or means to experience a big time fly fishing adventure.
During their stay at Fort Smith, the Bighorn River Alliance will provide at NO COST all of the meals beginning with lunch June 23th (travel day) thru breakfast June 28th (travel day).
Lodging will be provided at NO COST by several of the local lodges (double occupancy) in and around Fort Smith.
Guiding will be provided by Mature, licensed, professional guides who have logged thousands of days on the Bighorn. There will be a total of 24 guide days at NO COST to the kids. (Our 17 volunteer guides for 2010 had combined guiding experience of more than 330 years.)
We take our hats off to the Fort Smith angling community for their generous donations!
Anyone who is interested in attending must fill out an application form. The form asks for general information including names and addresses of both parents and applicants, questions regarding angler experience, health and diet questions, and more. There are also three essay questions at the conclusion of the application. Twelve youths will be asked to attend. Application deadline is March 31, 2014.
The following is a quote from Dr. Rick Williams, FFF Director, Executive Council Member and Conservation Committee Representative (Rick observed the entire 2010 program and spoke at our closing Banquet): “I can't say enough good things about the program you and the Bighorn River Alliance have put together for the youth anglers. What a world-class experience for the kids and what a first-rate operation you and the many other wonderful volunteers have created. We met so many wonderful folks there that we feel like friends already. We will be back up for the fishing again.”
For more information please refer to the Bighorn River Alliance web site www.bighornriveralliance.org Click on NEWS then look for Youth Adventure information.
To get an application, contact:
Frank Johnson, First Vice President
International Federation of Fly Fishers
11 Spring Creek Lane
Sheridan, Wyoming 82801
Phone 307-672-5164 or cell 307-752-7083
Explore past adventures
For more information including photos and reports from the kids attending past events go to 2013 Youth Adventure Days and read the “2013 Youth Adventure Kid’s Reports” or click on the photos sections. You will be very impressed with the photo sections from past years.
"Moving Waters" Fly Fishing School
At Riverside Retreat on the White River
International Federation of Fly Fishers,
1st Session - April 4th, 5th & 6th, 2014
The school will be for those anglers who are brand new to fly fishing through anglers with intermediate skills who want to make their time on the water more productive.
- Two nights lodging on the White River
- All your meals
- Personalized, private instruction from both casting instructors and guides.
- Casting instruction from IFFF Certified Casting Instructors
- Two half days of guided fishing that will give you 'on the water' practice of techniques covered in classes.
- Great Guide/Instructor to student ratio of 1:3.
- Information geared to help you catch fish!
A complete 2 1/2 day Fly Fishing School for only $450 per person.
There will only be 12 – 14 spots each session depending on lodging vs privacy needs.
Give this as an early Christmas present to someone or to yourself!
Come have fun and learn to Fly Fish at a super affordable price!
Additional information can be found at http://www.whiteriverresort.com/white-river-fly-fishing-school/.
2014 Annual Awards
by Larry Murphy, VP Communications
Someone deserves recognition...
Every year Southern Council members are honored for the efforts performed over the course of their involvement with SOC or for something special that they have performed during the past year.
Please take time this coming year and look at members around you who truly are worthy of this type of recognition. Then make a nomination before July 1, 2014 for one of the many categories we award annually.
Without your input, it is impossible to honor them for the service they render to the Southern Council. Many folks deserve this recognition yet few are given it. It only takes a little time to send in your nomination. Who knows you might be the one person responsible for seeing them get the recognition they deserve.
For more details and requirements for the Southern Council Annual Awards, visit Awards page for more information.
2014 IFFF Annual Award deadline is April 1, 2014.