Winter sea fishing can be just as fun and productive as any other time of year. Especially late feb, March and early April when fishing can fall off particularly in the North West. The Winter species move out and the warmer weather fish have yet to arrive. Mini species hunting does tend to be a lot more difficult in winter .
The weather is the main factor when Winter sea fishing, an envelope of decent conditions can be rare. If like me you love to get out then you have to be ready for the conditions. Whether it be wind, rain or freezing conditions, sometimes a mixture of all 3 which is best avoided. Conditions can and do vary widely from the forecast. Being prepared is the difference between a good comfortable session and not wanting to be there after half an hour.
When fishing from a beach mark or promenade winter sea fishing can be uncomfortable if not prepared. It can be generally quite safe in most weather conditions too. If fishing from rock marks it can be a whole new ball game. Slippy rocks, big swells and potentially poor visibility are a dangerous combination.
Always prepare for the worst when planning a session in Winter and you cant go far wrong. Look after your extremities as these are where you will lose heat the quickest. Keeping your head, hands and feet warm will help you have a far more comfortable session.
That said its just as important to look after your core body temperature. Unhooking a fishing in freezing conditions can quickly take its toll on your hands if already cold. If your hands were warm before unhooking that means you are also keeping your core body temperature up and they will quickly warm up again. Dress for the conditions and you cant go far wrong. Far better to be able to remove clothing than not having enough insulation in the first place.
There are many items of clothing specifically designed for Winter sea fishing like all in one and two piece suits. These look after your core body temp and are also fully wind and waterproof. In my opinion these are your best option in poor conditions.
Footwear, trainers are not really suitable as your feet will quickly become cold also, I learned the hard way. A couple of pairs of socks can help here but if they get wet it becomes an pointless exercise. A good pair of thermal or fleece line boots will help here. Its easy to lose heat through the soles of poor quality footwear, they also need to be comfortable. As anglers we will stand in one place for an extended period of time which can take its toll.
As for gloves this is a difficult one for me to recommend. I have tried various types including neoprene which were actually decent but it comes down to personal preference. You need something to get on and off quickly if needed when changing baits etc. Personally I think a decent pair of gloves goes with a good core body temperature. The best gloves in the world wont keep or warm up your hands if the rest of you is cold. You will be fighting a losing battle from the start.
When Winter sea fishing from rock marks keeping warm is just one of your concerns. Safety is paramount at this time.
There are a couple of things you should always do and some you shouldn’t:
Never fish alone
Always tell a responsible person your plan and what time to be expected home
Check in via phone if signal allows every half hour even if its just a text
VHF Radio if phone signal is sketchy
Good head torch with spare batteries
Keep an eye on the sea conditions, never turn your back to the sea, every 7th ish wave is bigger. There can also be upto two much larger waves per hour, when mixed with a swell ita dangerous combo.
The above should all really apply to most rock fishing sessions, more importantly in remote locations. Take all reasonable precautions and plan for the worst conditions.
Tight lines and stay safe and warm!