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Gearing Up for Fall Fishing: What to Wear on the River

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

Stay Comfortable and Dry While Conquering Ever-Changing Fall Weather

The Challenge of Fall Fishing Attire

As the warmth of summer gives way to the crisp days of autumn, avid anglers find themselves facing a unique challenge: how to stay comfortable and prepared for the rapidly changing weather conditions that characterize fall fishing. Nowhere is this challenge more apparent than in the Forks, Washington area, where the temperature can shift from morning lows in the 30’s to afternoon highs in the 70’s in a matter of hours. In this comprehensive fishing attire guide, we'll delve into the essential clothing and gear to ensure you're well-equipped for fall fishing adventures, whether you're casting from the riverbank or navigating the waters in a boat.

anglers with coho salmon in river
Anglers with just the right fall fishing attire!

Embracing Versatility: The Key to Fall Fishing Attire

One of the hallmarks of fall fishing is the unpredictable weather that comes with it. From sunny skies to sudden downpours, you need to be prepared for anything. Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to your fishing attire. Here’s a breakdown of the layers and gear you need to effectively tackle fall fishing conditions:

1. Waders

The first layer of defense is a good pair of waders. I always wear stocking-foot Gortex waders as their breathability keeps me from overheating while rowing the boat or walking along the riverbank. Over the waders, I wear wading boots with felt soles if I’m going to be wading and lug soles if I’ll be fishing from the boat. If you don’t have waders then you need a good pair of rain pants along with boots that will keep your feet dry. Even if it’s not raining, there’s a good chance you might get wet as we navigate the rapids on our rivers so it’s best to be prepared.

2. Base Layers: Starting from the Ground Up

  • Heavy Wool Socks: Begin with a single pair of heavy wool socks to provide insulation and warmth for your feet. The cold water temperatures in the fall can be a shock to the system, and these socks serve as your first line of defense against the chill.

  • Medium Fleece Wading Pants: As you move upward, a good pair of medium fleece wading pants helps to trap heat close to your body while allowing for flexibility and ease of movement. They are designed to keep your lower body warm even in wet conditions.

3. Upper Body Layers: Building the Right Combination

  • Short Sleeve T-Shirt: Start with a short sleeve T-shirt as your base. This provides comfort and allows you to adjust your layers as needed throughout the day.

  • Long Sleeve T-Shirt: Over the short sleeve T-shirt, layer a long sleeve T-shirt. This adds an extra barrier against the cold air and provides an additional level of insulation.

  • Neoprene Pullover (For Heavy Rain): If the weather forecast predicts heavy rain, a neoprene pullover is a crucial addition. Neoprene is water-resistant, and this layer will keep you dry even when the rain pours down.

  • Puffy Coat: As temperatures drop further, a puffy coat becomes essential. These coats are lightweight and highly insulating, providing warmth without bulk. They're perfect for those chilly fall mornings on the water.

  • High-Quality Rain Coat: The outermost layer should always be a high-quality rain coat. Look for features like taped seams and waterproof zippers to ensure complete protection from rain and wind.

4. Extra Precautions: Accessories and Spare Gear

  • Double Rain Coat: In cases of heavy rain or particularly wet conditions, doubling up on your rain coat can provide an extra layer of protection against moisture.

  • Headgear and Buff: A baseball cap helps shield your face from the sun's rays, while a buff can be worn around your neck and pulled up to cover your face and ears for sun protection or when the weather turns a bit brisk.

  • Wool Watch Cap: As body heat escapes through the head, a wool watch cap is essential for maintaining core warmth. It's a small accessory that can make a big difference.

  • Fingerless Wool Gloves: These gloves keep your hands warm while still allowing you the dexterity needed for fishing tasks.

  • Spare Clothing and Waders: Packing an extra set of clothing and waders in a dry bag ensures that you're prepared for the unexpected. If you or a fishing buddy accidentally takes an unplanned plunge, having dry clothing to change into can be a game-changer.

Preparedness and Comfort for Unforgettable Fall Fishing

fishing guide Larry Ford with angler and fish caught in river
Ex: rain coat, gloves, watch hat, buff & waders

Navigating the ever-changing conditions of fall fishing in Forks, Washington requires careful consideration of your clothing and gear choices. By adopting a layered approach that blends insulation with water resistance, you can strike the perfect balance between staying warm and dry while also having the flexibility to adapt to the weather. Remember, being prepared isn't just about comfort—it can mean the difference between a hasty retreat from the river and landing the catch of a lifetime.

As you gear up for your fall fishing escapades, keep in mind key takeaways from this attire guide:

  • Layer Up: Embrace the versatility of layers to regulate your body temperature and stay comfortable in the face of fluctuating weather.

  • Prioritize Insulation and Water Resistance: Choose clothing and gear that provides both insulation against the cold and protection against rain and moisture.

  • Accessories Matter: Don't underestimate the impact of accessories like headgear, gloves, and buffs. These small additions can enhance your overall comfort and fishing experience.

  • Pack Spares: Having spare clothing and waders readily available can be a lifesaver if unexpected wetness occurs.

  • Stay Adaptable: Keep a close eye on the weather forecast and be ready to adjust your layers accordingly. Being adaptable is key to a successful fall fishing outing.

By following these guidelines, you'll be well-equipped to embrace the challenges and rewards that fall fishing brings. So, whether you're walking along the riverbank or casting your line from a boat, you'll be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws your way. Get ready to make this fall fishing season one to remember!


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