Don’t get left out in cold while fishing |

Don’t get left out in cold while fishing

After experiencing one of the coldest fishing outings that I have been on since living in this region, I am offering these words regarding dealing with the cold weather. Fishing, particularly fly fishing, because it involves wading or use of float tubes, involves a great deal of cold weather preparation.

Fly fishermen that continue to fish during the winter months are abundantly aware that they need to layer their clothing to keep warm. The technology in warm-weather gear today makes it much easier to layer with lightweight, yet great insulating clothing. Materials that wick moisture away from the body are essential to cold weather pursuits.

That said, even with great gear, the winter angler needs to be aware of a couple of important facts. The outside temperature is only a small part of the equation when it comes to how cold you feel. One should also be aware of wind chill. When determining how cold you feel, the combination of the outside temperature and the wind can have a tremendous chilling effect.

A wind chill index was developed in the 1940s to describe a characteristic known as “coldness.” This was a result of scientists working in the Antarctic. On Nov. 1, 2001, the National Weather Service began using a new wind chill index. This new wind chill index was a result of the fact that advances science, technology, and computer modeling was able to more accurately formulate a useful formula for calculating wind chill. You can view this chart on the Internet at

The chart works by taking one’s knowledge of the outside temperature and the approximate wind speed. By comparing the two on the chart an estimated temperature will be given which estimates just how cold it feels considering outside temperature and the wind.

The importance of the wind chill index is as an indicator of how to dress properly for winter weather. In dressing for cold weather, an important factor to remember is that entrapped insulating air warmed by body heat is the best protection against the cold.

Wearing loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers is therefore the best option. Outer garments should be tightly-woven, water repellent and hooded. Mittens snug at the wrist are better protection than fingered gloves.

While this tells you how cold it will feel, prolonged exposure to these elements can certainly lead to hypothermia. This is a rapid loss of core body temperature. Heat loss can occur from radiation (temperature), conduction (water), convection (wind chill), and evaporation (perspiration).

In the case of fly fishermen, wading waist deep in 42-degree water can rapidly cause an individual to lose core body temperature. Water conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than air because it has greater density. Even with our layered clothing under the waders keeping us dry, the chilling impact cannot be underestimated.

On this particular outing, I would venture to say that all of us experienced at least mild to moderate hypothermia symptoms. Sometimes we can place ourselves at great risk pursuing an activity that we enjoy. Discretion is the better option when it comes to winter outings. Use some reasonable judgment when it comes to planning your outdoor activities and be aware of all factors and the impact that they can have on your ability to stay safe.

My friends and I have often had our sanity questioned when it comes to selection of days to go fishing. This past Saturday, we saw seven anglers fishing during these awfully cold conditions. Is it any wonder that they were all from Truckee! All were fly fishermen, and all were very cold. The combination of cool temperatures, high winds, and cold water made for a pretty uncomfortable day even though we were all prepared for it.

[Bruce Ajari, a Truckee resident, is a regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.]


(4,980 Acre Feet) Inflow is at 34 cfs and the outflow is 36 cfs. Boat and shore anglers have had fairly good success. Fish have been caught with minnow imitating lures and flasher combination rigs. Most anglers are fishing from shore using nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Fly fishermen near the inlet have experienced fair to good action. Nymphs and streamers have accounted for most of the fish caught, although some fish have also been caught on dry flies and emergers.


Fishing has been good for mackinaw. A combination of jigging and trolling has been successful. Shore fishermen near the launch ramp have had fair success. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Fly fishermen have taken a few fish mostly with streamers.

-Lake Tahoe

At 6222.54 on 11/22/2004 (Lake Level 6223.00) Fishing has been good for mackinaw. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair.


(4,534 Acre Feet) Prosser is fishing fair to good. Boat anglers have been catching fish with minnow imitating lures and flasher combination rigs. Most anglers have been shore fishing with nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Fly fishermen have been taking a few fish near the inlets and the dam with nymphs and streamers.


(103,640) Stampede fishing has been fair to good. Boat anglers have had good success and have caught fish with minnow imitating lures and flasher combination rigs. Shore fishermen are also doing well. Most are using nightcrawlers or Powerbait. Fly fishermen are using a combination of nymphs, emergers, dries and streamers with fair to good success.

-Other Waters

Davis and Frenchman reservoirs have been fishing fair to good for most anglers. Fish are being caught in shallow water at Frenchman and Davis. Intermediate and floating lines are working well. Pyramid Lake in Nevada is picking up for shore fishermen, and still very good for those trolling. The water temperature is cooling. Anglers are experiencing varying conditions, but overall things appear to be getting a little more consistent now for shore anglers. This cooler weather and the storms are beginning to help. Don’t forget that you will need a permit to fish from shore and also a boat permit if you are using a boat since this location is entirely on the Paiute Indian Reservation.

-The following waters are closed for the season

Martis Lake

Little Truckee River

Truckee River

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