When you live on any of the beautiful islands of the Florida Keys, fashion is most likely not one of your top priorities every day. Many of us would much rather focus on what the weather might be this upcoming ‘Sandbar Sunday’, or what kind of tackle we might use (and maybe need to restock) on our next fishing trip. But, when it comes to what we might wear on that fishing trip, depending on a person’s own style, there are so many options and a large spectrum of what people chose to fish in, here in the Keys. Whether you are the avid fisherperson or you are the first-timer who wants to get out and try something new, this is my advice on what you might want to wear.
We are so lucky to be able to fish year-round here; it never really gets much below 55 degrees, even in January or February. So, obviously, we take advantage of that as much as possible and fish any day of the year. My first suggestion when it comes to what to wear fishing might be different for many. You might think it would be a bathing suit, protective clothing, or sunscreen. Not on our dock. At A&B Marina in Key West, where the High Class Hooker is docked, the chosen first, and most necessary, article of clothing needed to go fishing is…white shrimping boots. Almost all of the deckhands and mates, including my husband Jerry, Capt. Marlin Scott, and our new Captain on the HCH, Kevin Brister, wear these boots on the dock all year round and would consider them extremely important to their profession. The boots provide protection from hooks, crunched toes, sharp fish teeth, water and salt spray, and even sun (Jerry has the boot tan to prove it). I wear white boots all ‘winter’ to fish for all the same reasons the guys do. Although, I must confess that I am too vain to wear them in the summer months (or at least when I don’t have long pants or leggings on with them) because I do not look as good as Jerry does with a boot tan!
Now, besides white shrimping boots, we always wear good polarized sunglasses (we prefer Costas, but anything will work better than non-polarized). Jerry and I also (along with most fisherpeople) choose to wear hats while fishing for more sun protection; any head protection including visors, fitted caps, wearing a buff as a hat, or even straw hats will work. Believe me. The cooler you can keep yourself by keeping the sun off of you, the better you will feel—especially in the hottest summer months. For even more sun protection, we wear at least SPF 45 reef safe sunscreen; don’t forget sunscreen for your lips, too. Look for the ‘reef safe’ label on your sunscreen to help protect our reefs (and yourself) from toxic chemicals.
Because fishing is a sport in which “YOU WILL GET WET ON THIS RIDE”, we like to fish in clothing that is as water absorbing, but quick-drying, as possible. Jerry always wears boardshorts to fish in, and I like to wear a bathing suit under my fishing clothes as much as possible. I like to wear quick-drying material active shorts, similar to boardshorts, over my suit. In the winter months, Jerry might change to jeans under foul weather gear, and I keep warm with leggings because they fit well into my boots—unless it is raining and I need to wear ‘foulies’ too. We like to wear cotton t-shirts to fish in—especially on our charters, when that is sort of our crew uniform. But, even when fun fishing, we tend to wear the same thing. Maybe we prefer to fish in cotton because we are an ‘old school’ of fishes! Long sleeve SPF shirts are also a nice addition over t-shirts or bathing suits, too.
Being as comfortable and as dry as possible always makes a fishing trip far more enjoyable; nobody has fun when they are cold and wet, or hot and sunburnt!!! Finally, my last bit of advice is that you do not need to go out and buy special expensive fishing clothing or gear (like shirts with flaps and high tech shorts) to have a good day fishing. Remember, the goal is to catch fish, not look like you fell out of a tackle shop (and fish could care less what you are wearing). If you ever don’t know what to wear to go fishing, throw on a beautiful accessory (like a 5-gallon bucket purse) and walk the dock to your boat like it’s a runway and you own it! 🙂 The fish and everyone else will notice your confidence—and you have to have that to go fishing!!