Fishing Late Fall in Freezing Conditions
As we approach the end of October, we will soon be experiencing temperatures below freezing. Fishing in those temperatures involves more than just layering on warm clothes and a cap. I will explain some things you need to do before , during and after you go fishing in freezing temperatures below 32 Fahrenheit.
First of all, preparation before your trip is important. You must wear layers of clothes with the outer layer being waterproof. It is windy in the fall and you undoubtedly will get some spray from waves. This spray can freeze to the floor of your boat even if you have carpet. Make sure you have high topped boots as piers will not be available on most lakes. I build a series of steps to assist people into the boat. Be careful moving around in the boat as boots and heavy clothes make you clumsy. You do not want to be in the water in sun freezing temperatures. A life jacket is always a good idea but vital in these scenarios. Lastly,I lubricate my trolling motor shaft with a water repelling oil. PAM cooking oil works well and doesn’t contaminate the water.
Launching your boat can be hazardous if previous boaters have been careless. I bring a bucket of sand and an ice spud to provide traction and break ice at the shoreline so my light covers don’t break. I have had to break up to two inches of ice in stream entrances to some lakes and even had to break skim ice on the lake to be able to fish.
Fishing for muskie can be very good at this time in the deep holes of relatively shallow lakes. I use suckers exclusively at this time as water can freeze in the eyes of your poles if you are casting. Vertical jigging can also be productive in the frigid temperatures as this minimizes reeling wet line into your reel. It is a good idea to have a portable propane heater to melt the ice from your reels or eyelets as well as warm hands. Use caution when moving in the boat so you don’t slip. A tidy boat is very important so you aren’t tripping over nets, rods and tackle. If you use your net, shake the water off of it before stowing it in the boat.
Finally , when you get back to the launch make sure the ramp is ice free. If not spread some sand on the icy patches for traction. All water should be drained from live wells and the boat so it can’t freeze and crack a line. I always let water drain from the motor when it is down and then turn it over a few times to blow any water out of the lower unit. As you pull your boat and trailer from the water, allow the trailer and boat to drain at the water’s edge. This is common courtesy for other anglers or you if you come to fish the next day. Late fall can be a very productive time to fish but these precautions should be taken to ensure your safety.