Essential Gear For Winter Kayak Fishing
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If you’re eager to stay on the water through the year, it’s time to learn how to kayak fish in winter. With the right cold weather kayak gear, you can fish any time of year in climates that don’t cause your local lakes, ponds, and rivers to ice over.
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A hat or beanie
When you are dealing with cold weather, you need to look at three areas: your head, neck and hands. Keep your neck and ears warm with a thick neck gaiter or scarf to keep wind from getting in, then wear earmuffs on top to keep air flowing around them. A hat or beanie is another essential piece of cold weather kayaking gear. You lose a lot of heat through the skin on the top of your head and to maintain body temperature, you should always wear at least one layer close to your head.
A pair of warm gloves is a must, as part of your winter kayaking gear. Place hand warmers your vest pockets so that you can put your hands into the pockets to keep your fingers warm.
Winter kayaking is no place for blue jeans or other absorbent clothing. The idea here is to keep the water off the skin, and that means some sort of waterproof outer layer. There should be good insulated, lightweight gear inside and lightweight but solid waterproof clothing on the outside.
The right way to wear winter kayak fishing clothing, is that the clothing beneath your outerwear should be breathable and made out of wool or high-tech material such as fleece to keep you warm. Fleece is excellent at trapping heat and is soft to wear. When selecting fleece-lined jackets, gloves, pants, socks or boots make sure they fit well and are not too tight on your body; they should be just snug enough so that the warmth of your own body does not cause excessive sweating or sweating between the layers.
Drysuit kayaking is all about comfort and mobility, which means staying warm without sweating and being able to roll around in your kayak without worrying about getting wet. Unlike wet suits and neoprene, a dry suit will not absorb water and if you end up wet on the outside of the suit, simply pull out an Argon-filled chamber on the inside of it that keeps you dry even if you drag through the water.
Avoid thick insulated rain suits as they can get very heavy if soaked in water, making it difficult to get back into the boat. Go with less absorbent materials that will not weigh you down in case you fall into the water.
You might not realize it, but your feet will be the most exposed part of your body on a winter kayaking trip. They need to be insulated and protected. Cotton is the wrong inner insulating material to do this. Thick wool socks-not cotton are a great option because they help keep your feet warm even if they get wet, which is almost inevitable on a winter kayak fishing trip. Get a pair of socks that go over your ankles so that you don’t risk getting them wet when setting up or launching the kayak.
At a minimum, you’ll need a river-worthy PFD that will keep you afloat if you fall into the water, and a hand-powered bilge pump can keep your kayak dry if water begins to accumulate inside of it. Check our recommendations for the Best Life Jackets for kayaking.
A dry bag is a must. Keeping your clothing in a dry bag means that you’ll always have dry clothes with you and that if you capsize or tip over, you can get out of your wet clothes and into something comfortable right away. Always pack a second outfit in case it gets wet or damaged in any way. We have a list of recommended waterproof bags that you can consider getting if you do not have one yet.