The one thing I’ve learned being a Pacific Northwest transplant is that whatever the season, the water out west never really warms up. In Seattle we are surrounded by several saltwater and freshwater fishing opportunities. No matter what your skill set is on the water, cold air and water temperatures can kill and it’s best to always be prepared for the inevitable.
It was six years ago when I bought my first Hobie Mirage Pro Angler kayak. Fall was near and water temperatures were starting to drop. At the time, I didn’t have it in the budget to buy a dry suit. Instead, I opted for a pair of tight neoprene waders I had used for several seasons of salmon and steelhead fishing. They were warm, fairly comfortable and would keep me dry during a launch. For the most part, they worked great and thankfully I never went overboard. Mind you that drinking four cups of coffee before getting on the water can make for an uncomfortable experience when nature calls. Undoing shoulder straps and having to peel down tight neoprene is not a fun experience on dry land nor in a kayak.
If you plan on fishing year-round from your kayak, a dry suit should be on the top of your list. Once you wear one, you’ll wonder how you ever fished without it. While there are many brands of dry suits on the market, Kokatat created the Hydrus 3L Supernova Angler Paddling Suit – designed for fishermen. Gone is the rubberized neck gasket (common in whitewater and sea kayaking dry suits), replaced with a more comfortable neoprene neck. The Supernova Angler has been reinforced with durable fabrics to protect from sharp hooks, fish spines and high abrasion areas. You’ll find a dry suit will give you plenty of room to adjust your base layer underneath with thermals. Long underwear combined with comfortable outer layers will keep you warm on the inside while the waterproof dry suit protects you from the elements like rain, wind, and snow. Did I fail to mention the relief zipper?
Wearing a warm hat lined with Merino Wool or Gortex can prevent your body temperature from dropping on the coldest of days. There are some great waterproof options out there. I prefer hats like the Simms Extream hat with foldable ear flaps and a brim which keeps my polarized glasses protected from falling rain and snow.
Your feet are equally as important. In a sit on top kayak your feet are more exposed to the elements as compared to a sit inside kayak. If you wade in the water to launch and water gets in between your neoprene booties and dry suit, plan on having cold feet. I’m sold on Kokatat’s Nomad Paddling Boot. They are adjustable up to the knee and are ideal for wading in to the water to remove or insert scupper wheels in the water. Dry feet are warm feet.
Lastly is protecting your hands from the cold. I’m a Hobie guy so I’m a pedaler, not a paddler. I’ve never been a fan of wearing gloves. Mittens, fingerless gloves, you name it… I’ve tried them all. I end up taking them off to land a fish, feel a bite or because I got them wet. This year I bought a hand warmer muff. After all, NFL quarterbacks use them on the field. Why shouldn’t kayak fishermen? There are several manufacturers that make hand warmer muffs. I chose a hunting one by Midway. It’s a low cost investment and you can add a couple of disposable hand warmers that keep your hands toasty even on the coldest days on the water.
Stay warm, stay safe and fish longer!
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