If you're girly-girl like me going on your first cold weather fishing trip, here are 10 tips

If you had told me 10 years ago that someday I’d be packing to go on a 5-day fishing trip in late October, I would’ve thought you were absolutely crazy. And yet there I was, staring at my closet and trying to figure out what to pack and how concerned I should be with my wardrobe on this trip. My boyfriend chuckled when I called him to ask which outfits to pack. Growing up, I was something of a Tom boy and part of me still is. I love being outside and going on adventures and all that jazz, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the way I present myself. 

Just to give you a background on the environment, we fished on Lake Champlain in upstate New York and also on a smaller pond behind the cabin where we stayed. The temperature was in the mid to low 30’s most of the time during the day (and even colder at night). The first day on Champlain was very windy and overcast (and cold). The second day on Champlain was cloudy and turned into rain/snow/sleet. The days we fished on the pond were cold but one day was very clear, another was so cold the guides on our rods froze, and the last day was overcast and then turned to rain. 

frozen guide

frozen guide


The cabin where we stayed had a large living room with multiple couches and a big TV and fireplace. There were mounted fish and fishing-related paraphernalia all over the living room which made it impossible to forget why you were there. Our sleeping quarters consisted of bunk beds and space heaters. There were bathrooms (with showers) which I was pretty excited about. 

Here are my 10 tips:

1. Bring multiple gloves (3, to be exact)

I wore my Northface liner gloves every day, many times underneath a pair of fingerless gloves/mittens I bought at Target. The ones from Target are knit and kept my hands pretty warm. They got a bit wet and dirty of course because we were on a boat all day handling fish and bait and whatnot, so keep that in mind. I also had a third pair of gloves to wear in case we wandered into town and I didn’t want to wear fishy gloves.

2. Leave your hair tools at home

I have recently embraced the natural waves that grow out the top of my head. I love to wear my hair down and wild, but down and wild isn’t ideal for a day on a boat in the wind. I wore my hair in a braid every single day, and we all know that feeling of dread when you go to put your hair up, check your wrist, and it’s completely bare. Make sure you pack your hair ties!

braids fo’ days

braids fo’ days

3. Buy “Hot Hands”

The tiny little wonders that are Hot Hands. If we didn’t have these with us, I would’ve been miserable on this trip. I had 2 in each glove and on the last day had 1 in each boot as well. Shake them up and they heat up and stay warm for hours.

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4. Don’t drink too much water before getting on the boat

I had thought about this before the trip, but for some reason on day 1, I had a glass of water with breakfast, a bottle of water on the way to the lake, and brought a big mug of coffee on the boat. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. Being on a boat on a big lake in 35 degree weather…coffee is a must! Except that there’s no bathroom on the boat and I’m just not at the point in my life yet where I want to pee into a bucket on a boat with my boyfriend (who wouldn’t care) and our fishing guide (who probably wouldn’t care, but that’s just not me right now). Thankfully, we were close to the boat launch by the middle of the day and our guide asked if I wanted to use the outhouse on shore. I learned my lesson the next time and waited until the day was over to chug my water and coffee. 

5. Base layers are a MUST

I wore my Under Armour long-sleeve top and leggings every single day under my other layers. They kept my core and legs warm underneath all the other clothing I wore. You can always take off your top layers but a base layer will help you tremendously.

6. Warm, waterproof boots

I have a really cute pair of rain boots from Target. They’re black and have a buckle and I love them. But they’re not very warm, so I opted for my hunting boots for this trip. They’re waterproof and I know they keep my feet warm in the woods in the winter, and they did great on the boat as well.

7. A warm hat that covers your ears

I didn’t go outside at all without my winter hat. When the wind is whipping around on the boat and then the snow starts to fall, you’ll be glad you have a warm hat on your head to keep in as much heat as possible. I wore this one made by Carhartt…and I love the pom pom on top. 

Me, my pom pom hat, and a Northern Pike

Me, my pom pom hat, and a Northern Pike


8. Bring cabin slippers

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After a long day out on the lake, nothing feels better than taking a shower and lounging in the living room on a big leather sofa under a warm blanket. I didn’t want to have to wear my boots or other shoes around the cabin, so a pair of slippers or “house shoes” are great to have with you. I used my black Minnetonka moccasins and they suited me just fine.

9. If you like to wear makeup, keep it simple

Forget the contouring and eyeshadow palettes and fake lashes on this trip. Opt for a tinted moisturizer and a bit of mascara to shorten your morning routine and be the first one at the breakfast table. Mmmm bacon…

10. Take Dramamine or Bonine if you’re prone to motion-sickness

Thankfully, I didn’t have an issue with seasickness on this trip despite the significant waves we had on a couple of the days we spent on the water. However, things happen and if you think there’s a chance you may experience motion-sickness, something like Dramamine or Bonine will allow you to enjoy your trip in the upright position, rather than leaning over the side of the boat with someone holding your hair back (if you skipped my second tip and didn’t bring a hair tie). 

I had a great time on this trip and would definitely do it again, next time with a lighter duffle bag and maybe only 3 pairs of shoes instead of 7. Happy fishing!

Huge thanks to Adirondack-Champlain Guide Service for the accommodations and guided trips: