If you have yet to experience wearing breathable chest waders for your fishing, then you are missing out big time. The fly guys have been using lightweight, breathable chest waders and felt or rubber-soled wading boots for sometime now, but not that many anglers in the sea fishing world have switched on to just how useful they are for a lot of our shore fishing - and especially when you head out lure or bait fishing for bass. Some of you might not mind getting a soaking when you are fishing close to or actually in the water, but personally I like to live in my chest waders and keep nice and dry. The photo above from the other day is a perfect example of the need for chest waders. Please note that I used a long lens to compress the scene, and that the water is actually breaking safely behind where Mark is standing.
Not only are they good for keeping dry when you are wading, but they are great for those (frequent) times when the weather takes a turn for the worse. I simply can not imagine going bass fishing without mine. I also wear them for a lot of my mullet fishing, plus every single time I go out to photograph fly fishing, and they are even perfect for a lot of our standard shore fishing. Think of the shallow reef marks such as Lilstock on the Bristol Channel and then think how useful it would be to be able to wade out a bit if you could. I reckon my chest waders are as important to me as a decent rod or reel, and as such, they are worth every penny. In the winter I wear a fleece bib and brace lining from the fly fishing market to keep me warm.
Yes, you can pick up neoprene chest waders very cheaply these days, but personally I would rather wear nothing than have to wear neoprene for my fishing. Heavy, non-breathable, hot and horrible !! Look around though and you can usually pick up a good deal on a pair of breathable chesties and wading boots. You can't go far wrong using the Greys G-Series waders and the GRX wading boots. The boots are sized to allow for the waders, so just choose your regular shoe size.
If you want to spend more, then I can really recommend the Hardy EWS waders and EWS wading boots - I use and abuse these all the time for my fishing and photography and I can't talk them up enough. Sure, they cost a bit, but as I said earlier, I reckon waders are as important to me as a good rod and reel. I hate to think how many hard miles I have walked in mine so far, and they are standing up strong.
Some friends of mine had a few nice fish up on the Bristol Channel on Saturday, including a 6lb cod and a few thornbacks. This is a good time of year for the rays up there, and spring cod are always a real bonus. Southerly winds and medium tides are perfect for the really shallow reef marks - I have always been convinced that the thornies are put off by the noise or turbulence of rough conditions when you are fishing very shallow water, hence winds in the south being so good. My biggest thornback ray came from the Bristol Channel when it was flat calm, indeed all the best rays I have seen up there have been when the winds have been from the south, coming from behind us and flattening off the sea.
Check out some serious pike over on Nick Hart's blog - Chew Valley is an awesome place, and Nick and I filmed a TV programme there some years ago now where we had some big pike on flies. I am due to be out tomorrow in fact to photograph some lure fishing for pike, so I'll post here if it all goes well. Although I have not fished for them for a while now, pike have always held a fascination for me and I can't wait to see them again.