Dress for success
Even as November presses on, the water temps are still quite warm. Sand eels have moved in good numbers at the Coast Guard Channel and in Harbor and Trim’s Pond. Schoolie bass are moving around New Harbor at night, congregating around the docks. There are decent bass being caught on the Massachusetts and Rhode Island shoreline, so as the temperatures drop into December, larger fish should show up. I had the pleasure of talking with Tom Fry, a mountain of a fisherman in his own right, who has studied the island fishing scene for 20 years. His annual striper trips to Block Island are in December — so don’t hang up the waders yet. The fish will show up.
When fishing the colder waters there are a few things to remember when choosing outerwear for comfort and safety. First is your choice of waders. Chest waders are a necessity when the temps dip. The warmest are made out of neoprene, similar to a wetsuit, and keep you dry and warm. Others are made of lightweight breathable materials and are good for warmer water, but can be applied to the cold water fishing scene by simply adding layers (like long underwear) under them. Your wader belt should be able to hold your knife and pliers and have a plastic or stainless buckle. Another consideration for wader selection is the boot or footwear. “Boot foot waders” have the boot attached to the wader, “stocking foot waders” are bootless, and require a pair of ‘wader boots’ to be worn over the stocking foot. Each have pros and cons but we find the boot foot waders to be best for Block Island. If you plan on doing a lot of rock hopping the stocking foot can be beneficial as the wader boot can be better fitting and allow for a bit more agility while crawling up your favorite boulder. The last wader option is the addition of Korkers — a fishing version of the crampon — a metal studded boot sole that straps on most boots. Many wader boots also come with metal studs on the sole already and they are intended to offer more traction on slippery, seaweed covered rocks.
You also need to have a top or jacket that is waterproof and comfortable with enough flexibility to allow casting. Fishing-specific jackets usually have large pockets, draw cord at the waist, wrist adjustment, and a hood. STORMR is a newer brand of neoprene jacket designed specifically for surfcasters — the best of the technical fishing outerwear. But most any waist length waterproof, breathable jacket will do.
When fishing the cold you also need to cover up your head, easy enough to do with your favorite winter hat. Wool is the preferred material as it sheds water and is the best natural insulator there is. Whatever cap you wear will have a headlamp over it which is a necessity at night — you need light. A headlamp that has both white light and a red or green light option is best. Red and green light does not hinder your night vision when in use like white light does. Your headlamp is also a valuable tool to use to signal your fishing buddy if you need help.
Lastly are the hands and keeping them warm while not losing the mobility needed to change lures and tie knots. Three-quarter gloves have exposed finger tips, others have fold back finger tips, and yet others have the pointer and middle digits exposed. This all comes down to personal choice so choose wisely, keeping the hands warm is the key to staying out longer hours looking for fall stripers.
Catch ‘em up!