Fishing in the Midwest means you get to experience all four seasons of weather. It can go from 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the heat of summer, to -40 degrees in the dead of winter. Here is what I recommend wearing to keep you as comfortable as possible.
The most important thing is that you get on the water and go fishing, so don’t let your clothing stop you. With that said, I found that paying a little more for some performance clothing can really make a difference in your comfort, which means you can spend more hours on the water. Here is what I personally wear and recommend for each season.
Summer Fishing Clothes
I know I look lovely in this photo, but in the heat of summer, the name of the game is to stay cool, and to keep the sun off your skin.
I like to wear shorts because pants are way to hot! This leaves your legs exposed, but its the only spot you should need sunscreen. The shorts I am wearing are the Renegade Short by Kuhl.
These shorts can just about do it all. Lightweight, soft, and breathable, the durable RENEGADE™ Short features tough abrasion resistance and quick dry performance for every adventure. Designed to move freely as your body demands.
I also like the pockets on these shorts, which includes one that zips closed so you can keep your valuable items like wallets and keys, so they don’t end up at the bottom of the lake.
On my top half, I like to wear a long sleeve hooded shirt. I had mine custom made with my logo, but here is an example of a similar shirt you can get at Cabelas. You might think this looks hot, but its just the opposite. These shirts are made of a lightweight material that dries quickly, and keeps you cool. Most importantly, it keeps the sun off you, so you don’t have to slather messy sunscreen all over your body.
My favorite feature of this shirt is the hood. It keeps the sun off the back of my neck, which is the first place you will get a sunburn. It also shields a good part of your face as well.
I usually wear a baseball cap to shield my eyes from the sun, but another option that works well is a river hat. These hats are great because they shield your whole face from the sun. Its a great option if you don’t have a hood. Darrick wears this hat well.
Don’t forget a quality pair of polarized sunglasses too. Not only do they protect your eyes, but they cut down on the glare from the water and help you see fish beneath the surface.
In the photo above of Reggie holding a bluegill, you might have noticed that he was wearing gloves. These are special fishing gloves made by HUK. This is something that I recently started wearing, and I love them! Not only do they keep your hands from getting sunburned, but they also have grip on the palms for handling fish. They can add a little warmth too if its a chilly day.
For shoes, I like to wear a closed toe sandal like these Keens. They allow airflow around my foot to keep them cool, but also protect my foot when walking on gravel or grassy areas where there might be vegetation with pickers. Plus, they are made out of water resistant, quick-dry synthetic materials that are machine washable.
Spring / Fall Fishing Clothes
I will lump spring and fall together because they have similar types of weather. This time of year can be unpredictable weather wise, so you have to be prepared for just about anything. This means, dress in layers!
I bring along a small backpack with extra clothes like rain gear, that I can change into if necessary. For rain, I really like the Frogg Togg waterproof, breathable rain suit. The great thing about this suit is that it is affordable, lightweight, and folds up to take up very little space. I have rain pants and a jacket rolled up and put in this small backpack, with room to spare.
For those days when you know its going to be windy and wet all day, I wear high performance gain gear similar to what Reggie is wearing in the photo above. Check out the BLACKFISH Torrent Rain Jacket. If you want a little more warmth, then try the Blackfish Stormskin Gale Jacket.
Again, if you know the weather is going to be rainy and cool, my favorite thing to wear on my feet is the muck boot. I love these boots! I have the Woody Arctic Ice Arctic Grip A.T. Boots made by the Original Muck Boot Company.
These will keep your feet completely dry and warm. They work great when you have to walk in the water to launch your boat. They come in several styles. Mine are insulated so I can wear them in the winter ice fishing as well. This boot has a special grip on the sole that sticks to wet ice. Its almost like wearing ice cleats. For fall fishing, you might want a lighter weight boot like this Fieldblazer Classic Fleece.
The important thing is to dress in layers. That way you can add or subtract clothing as the weather changes throughout the day. I like to have along a fleece jacket or a hooded sweatshirt for a warm middle layer. These are not waterproof, but you can throw your rain coat over the top for extra warmth and rain protection.
Those HUK fishing gloves come in handy again to keep your hands warm while keeping your fingers free to tie on lures.
Winter Fishing Clothes
Fishing in the winter requires some serious clothing. It is important that you stay dry and warm, or you won’t be out there for long.
If you don’t have an ice shack, and have to sit on a bucket like Barry, do yourself a favor and get a quality jacket and bibs made for ice fishing. I use to wear my Carhart suit that I used for work, then I got a jacket and bibs from Striker Ice. It was night and day difference!
By having a two piece suit like this, you can easily remove your jacket for warmer days like the one above. The bibs and jacket are water resistant, so you can kneel down on the ice and stay dry. The kneepads on these bibs are reinforced to take a beating. Probably the best feature of the Striker Ice suit, is that it floats! If you are ever unfortunate enough to fall through the ice, this could save your life.
The other thing I want to mention is the flexibility of this suit. When I was wearing my Carhart suit, I had a heck of a time just bending over. The Striker Ice is very flexible and lighter weight, so its much easier to move around in.
There are several other brands that make clothing for ice fishing too. The name brand clothes can be pricey, but I feel they are worth it. You should be able to find some generic brands that offer a similar product at a reduced price, that will work too.
Hands and feet are the first thing to get cold, so you will want warm boots and gloves. Hands are tricky because you need to use your fingers, but you also need to keep them warm. Here’s what I do. I wear a thin glove like these Striker Ice Gloves. Then I wear a heavier mitten like these Ice Armor Choppers or the top of my gloves.
This allows me to stay warm, then when needed, I pull off the choppers and I can use my fingers as necessary. I can do most things with the skinny gloves on, but sometimes I still need to take all my gloves off for doing things such as tying on a hook.
Most of the time I fish inside an ice shack in the winter. I keep it around 60-70 degrees in there, so I shed off most of my outerwear. I usually wear those same muck boots that I wear in the spring/fall. I find that they are plenty warm for most outings, especially when I’m sitting in the shack.
If I plan on fishing outside the shack, I will put on a heavier insulated boot. I wear Cabela’s Inferno Boa Waterproof Winter Boots. These are very warm! On the downside though, they can feel a bit like walking around in downhill ski boots .For my next pair of boots I will find ones that are skinnier around the ankles.
I hope this gave some ideas as what to wear next time you go fishing. While you are here, check out some other interesting articles like, Making a cargo trailer ice house. You can also come hang out with us on our YouTube channel here