“I wear three pairs of socks and my feet still get cold,” he said with a chuckle.
The Muskegon man was on his way to join several other anglers fishing for perch in Lake Michigan.
Anglers and hunters are notorious for shrugging off miserable weather conditions in search of their quarry. When the big perch are biting in Lake Michigan, anglers are quick to follow, even when the air temperature is hovering right around freezing and the water temperature isn’t much warmer.
“This will be my third day in a row,” Paulus said as he pulled a heavy coat over his hooded sweatshirt.
How does he prepare for the cold weather?
“More clothing, and I wear my life preserver all the time,” Paulus said. “It is dangerous. It’s like 37 degrees, the water temp, so I don’t think you’d last very long if you went in.”
Coast Guard Boatswain’s Mate Jason Krawczyk offered the following tips to those heading out onto the water:
• Always do checks on your boat to make sure you have all of your required safety gear. A digital checklist can be found here.
• Always wear your life jacket. “Even if you’ve gone out and done it a thousand times, wearing a life jacket can be the difference between life and death,” Krawczyk said.
• Let your family and friends know what time you’re going out and what time you’re going to be back.
• Always check the weather report for water temperature, wind direction and waves. “Those kinds of things can save people,” Krawczyk said, noting that winds out of the east are typically best, while winds out of the west tend to lead to bigger waves.
• Realize that when the water’s cold, your chances of survival should you fall in decrease dramatically, even if you are wearing a life jacket. ”We have a rule called the 1-10-1 rule,” Krawczyk said. “When the water’s really cold, you have one minute to catch your breath, 10 minutes of functionability and one hour of survivability wearing a PFD (personal flotation device). We use that formula more for our ice rescue purposes.”
• Dress for the conditions. “The biggest thing is wearing appropriate layers, a dry suit or anti-exposure coveralls, and having a PFD on,” Krawczyk said.
Should an issue arise, Coast Guard Station Grand Haven is ready.
“We have both our 47-foot and 29-foot boats in the water,” Krawczyk said. “As soon as the ice started coming up, we had the first boats in the water and we’re able to respond to anything in the water. We’re up and running for the summer.”