“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”
I am sure by this point we have all accepted that winter is here and we might as well be embracing the cooler temperatures. When it comes down to it, I personally love the cold weather and tend to stick to my outdoor activities. As long as the weather permits for safe travels on the water, than I am going fishing. If not, than I will resort to the next best option and go sit in a duck or deer blind.
With these being my true passion, one thing is inevitable and that is I am going to be smack dab in the middle of the wintertime elements. This time of the year, the weather can be unpredictable and you never really know what to fully expect. Since there is always a uncertainty, I have found that when making a winter outing, it is always best to prepared for any condition. The two most important things to do while being on the water is to stay warm and stay dry.
As a kayak angler, I believe that we are more prone to getting wet than everyone else out on the water. We are sitting just above the waters edge, waves tend to break over the bow and gunnels, our paddle gets wet and when we catch a fish we throw it in our lap. Everything that we do in a kayak has potential in getting us wet. So it is very important that we try our best to stay as dry as we can; the drier we are, the warmer we are.
When it comes to buying gear and clothes, there are several different brands and some of the options can get to be quite expensive. In my opinion, and this goes for fishing, hunting, camping and every outdoor activity, you need to buy the best gear that you can afford. I fully understand that most of us can’t go out and equip ourselves with top of the line gear at one time. I started several years back by purchasing the minimum stuff and that was just a cheaper set of waders and gloves. From that point forward, every winter I would break down and buy me a higher end piece of gear. I believe by now I have everything that I need and most of it is quality equipment that is designed to last and work properly.
As for staying dry while being in the kayak, I always wear a pair of waders. They are always warm, dry and do a great job of keeping the wind off of you. If I know that I am going to be staying on top of my kayak than I will wear my neoprene waders with the boot. I typically own a pair of Magellan waders that I got from Academy; they are on the cheaper end and work perfect for being in the kayak. If I know that I am going to hop off the kayak and wade around the flats, than I will wear my Simms waders. They are comfortable, durable and make standing in the frigid water much more bearable than anything else I have put on.
One of the other things I have learned that you need to keep dry and warm are your hands. These are must because everything we do is revolved using our hands; paddling, gripping and casting your rod, tying lures etc. When I first started to paddle during the winter, I quickly realized that keeping your hands dry was a must. The original gloves I used were Nitrile covered work gloves and they worked okay until a certain point in the day. Eventually, residual water from holding fish or gripping my paddle would seep through the cotton base layer and would leave me with wet gloves for half the day. Now I have a pair of Simms windbloc gloves; they are windproof, don’t retain residual water and are lined with fleece to keep your hands warm and able to stay functioning.
When it comes to staying warm, this is a much more easier task and the gear is not nearly as costly as dry gear. The most important thing to keep warm are your feet, hands, head and face. Once one of these parts of your body gets cold, they begin to hurt and are hard to get back warm again. To keep my feet warm I like to wear wool socks or one of my favorite brands is ‘Darn Tough’; the are durable, warm and have a lifetime warranty if they rip or tear. For your head, always wear a beanie or a face mask to prevent you ears and nose going numb. Also, a face buff that we wear to keep sun off our face, works very well to keep your face and nose warm.
As soon as the temperatures begin to drop, I always get a change of clothes and a towel to bring with me on the kayak. I put them in a garbage bag and stick them inside the hull of my kayak. If something was to happen on a bitter cold day and you were to get completely wet, a fun outing on the water can turn dangerous very quickly. That is something to always be mindful of when making a winter trip.
This is the time of year that we should be more prepared than any other while hitting the water. The elements at this time can be brutal but if you can face them head on, than you will be able to withstand them. One of the reasons of why we make these outings is to have fun and nothing with deter you quicker than numb hands and feet. Be sure to plan ahead by following the weather, having the proper gear and always rememberer to stay warm and stay dry.