As our open water fishing season up here in the North can be quite short due to the cold frozen winters I find myself doing a lot of cold weather paddling in hopes of extending my fishing season as long as possible. Kayaking fishing in cold weather can be very dangerous if you aren’t wearing the proper protective clothing. If you arе caught unprepared thе consequences саn bе life threatening.Kayak Fishing takes place out in the elements so protecting yourself in cold weather situations might make the difference between success and a life threatening situation on your next trip.As а paddler yоu neеd to bе aware оf bоth the air and water temperature thrоughоut the year.A common mistake and one that I have made is being prepared for air temperature alone.Water temperatures can be quite a bit lower as anyone who has gone over on a cold day can tell you. Being prepared for those lower temperatures should be your aim when dressing for anything but optimum weather.
Lots of things need to be considered when choosing Kayak Fishing wear.First and foremost ensure you bring your usual Safety Equipment and always wear your PFD. Your PFD will keep you afloat if things go bad and as an added bonus is an additional layer of insulation.The key to cold weather clothing is layering.The layering system for cold weather should consist of an outer layer,an insulating layer and a base layer.
Outer Layer : Outer layers should be lightweight,waterproof and windproof.Breathable waders and a wading jacket are common among anglers and it has worked for me in the past.If you go this route ensure you wear your wading belt to minimize the amount of water that could enter.More and more kayak fisherman are turning to higher quality paddling gear now a days as the chance of water entering is minimal and the added comfort can’t be ignored.Paddling pants and jackets from companies such as Kokatat Paddling Gear are a common choice. This season I’ve been using a Kokatat T3 Supernova Anger Paddling suit and couldn’t be happier with it. Its neck and wrist gaskets were great at keeping water out and the Cordura reinforcements on the seat, elbows and along the front of the legs will definitely last when put through the rigors of fishing. I’ve also found an added sense of confidence when wearing the suit in really cold weather due to the added protection it gives me.
Insulating Layer : The insulating layer helps you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Insulating layers will typically be made up of fleece or wool( merino wool products appear to work really well ) .Whatever you choose should still have the same insulating qualities whether wet or dry. I usually wear a Misty Mountain Micra Fleece top and Bottom.They are warm and help in wicking moisture away from skin.This will usually suffice but on occasion I have worn an additional upper insulating layer of fleece or wool.
Base Layer : The base layer is probably the most important as far as regulating your body temperature goes.It’s the layer closest to your skin and is vital in moving moisture (perspiration) away from your body.You should use synthetic fibers such as Capilene and CoolMax polyester that have good wicking properties .They help in moving perspiration away from your skin. Staying dry is important in avoiding hypothermia in cold weather situations.Most recently I have been using Terramar Baselayers Body-Sensors® (thermal regulated performance baselayer) and couldn’t be happier with its performance.
Additional Considerations : A few more items you should consider when heading out into the cold would include a good insulating hat, fleece or wool would again be appropriate choices.Neoprene gloves and boots are also recommended as neoprene is a good insulator when wet.
Hopefully some of this information will ensure the only discomfort you feel on your next cold weather kayak fishing adventure is that of losing the odd fish.