Since the tide has been super low and it’s been so cold out lately I’ve been doing lots of wade fishing. I know I know.. it’s not as cool looking as poling around in an expensive skiff all dressed up in the latest Patagonia and casting a $1500.00 fly rod combo at 200lb tarpon. It’s not about that.. heck I’ld love to do that and if I ever do.. you’ll be the first to hear about it. 🙂
This is about wade fishing in Florida. Saltwater wading at that. Not the wading you see in most fly fishing magazines, standing in a trout stream and river fishing around picturesque mountains and water ways. We are talking ugly stuff, wading in the dried up open flats, standing in mud and muck in 15-30mph winds. Yeah it’s not so glamorous, however, if you want to catch fish when it’s like this though, you might be rewarded nicely.
Most people when they think about fishing Florida never ever think it’s ever going to get cold but it absolutely does. (haven’t you seen snow birds walking around with socks and sandals?) Believe it or not it’s some of the best fishing of year when it gets like this. Some of my best days as far as numbers of fish caught has been in 20mph winds, super low tide and cold as can be. It sounds crazy but the in these conditions, the fish have very little water to hide in, they are bundle up for warmth(yes even underwater), and they are not as weary due to the wind. I remember catching over 100 redfish and trout just standing over one pot hole with my friend Spencer a couple years ago. We were using jigs and we were literally catching one fish after another we stopped counting after we got to 100 and we left them biting.
So when you decide to buy waders to fish Florida waters I recommend a few things. One do not get the neoprene duck waders with built in boots. It might seem like a great idea at first not having to buy wading boots and super warm neoprene plus it’s usually cheaper. But you will quickly learn it’s not the way to go. You will get stuck in mud and can’t move due to the loose built in boots. Once you start walking you heat up very quickly and find yourself sweating in your waders. Yes it is uncomfortable and yes you will stink very badly after a while swimming in your own sweat.
What you want is “breathable waders” which will feel very thin at first but you’ll be thankful when you start sweating. If it is super cold you can always add layers under it. You also want neoprene booties with gravel guard. The neoprene booties will allow you to choose the type of boots/shoes that will fit nicely. I suggest a nice pair of boots for better foot protection(from oysters and such) and it won’t get sucked off your feet when you get stuck in the mud. The gravel guard will prevent rocks from going into your boots/shoes. Nothing worst than having all these layers on and you get a rock in your shoes. Now you have to stop, find a place to sit down somewhere and take rocks out. There’s plenty of tiny rocks and shells flying around to be very annoying.
What I usually do is kayak or run a boat somewhere until it gets too skinny and start working pot holes. Google map is awesome for finding these to secret holes. If you start seeing fish in the boat and they are too spooky due to the clear waters, this is another good reason to get out and wade. (warning: before you get out in the Everglades like Flamingo, check the bottom, make sure its hard packed, you will sink otherwise! )
Get the chest waders not just the pants, this will give more storage as well was warmth and when you crossing something deeper than you fish you will be thankful. Also make sure your belt is tight. If you happen to fall and the waders get filled up with water it is next to impossible to get out of it. It is very dangerous especially when you are near swift moving water.
You can find waders with the above specifications: at your Local flyshop, sporting goods stores, Dicks Sporing goods, sports authority, Basspro.com Cabelas.com
Prices vary from $80 ones found at Basspro all the way to the cream of the crop Simms brand.
If I get a chance I’ll do a few search and put up some links. Hope you find this helpful and timely for fishing this time of year.