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 blessed to be 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 used Hobie Pro Angler kayak. Fall was near and water temperatures were starting to plummet. Having dropped a small fortune on a kayak, I wasn’t ready to throw down more money on an expensive dry suit. 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 peeling down tight neoprene is not a fun experience on dry land or 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. For more than 40 years Kokatat has been making some of the best dry suits and PFDs for the paddling industry. With the rise in popularity of the kayak fishing market, they came out with the Hydrus 3L Supernova Angler Paddling Suit - designed for fishermen. They replaced a rubberized neck gasket (common in whitewater and sea kayaking dry suits) with a more comfortable neoprene neck. They doubled upon stronger fabrics to protect from sharp hooks and fish spines .Depending on the weather; you can adjust your base layer underneath with thermals to keep you warm on the inside while waterproof suit protects you from the elements like rain, wind, and snow. Did I fail to mention - The Relief Zipper? Next to protecting you noggin with a warm hat, 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 you neoprene booties and dry suit, plan on having cold fee. I’m sold on Kokatat’s Nomad Paddling Boot. They are adjustable up to the knee and are ideal for when you have to wade into the water to remove or insert scupper wheels in the water. Dry feet are warm feet.
Lastly are protecting your hands from the cold. I’m a pedaler and not a paddler. I’ve never been a fan of wearing gloves. Mittens, fingerless, 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 fisherman? 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.