Winter time kayak fishing Precautions and prep

Once again the water is starting to cool and the mercury is starting to drop. This creates some positive and negative situations that must be addressed by the kayak angler prior to any outing.

One of the positives are that most pleasure boaters have retired their watercraft until next spring, so when you go out there will be less traffic on the water. Believe it or not this is both good and bad, first the positive; you can pretty much fish anywhere and there will be less of a chance of being run over by careless and untrained boaters. However it also means that if you have an emergency and need assistance the chance of being discovered is reduced.

A good Idea would be to have some form of communication device with you to call for assistance if needed. You could use a waterproof two way radio that has the capability of transmitting on the same frequencies that local  rescue agencies utilize. You could also use a cell phone if there is adequate coverage in all areas that you will be fishing. A note here, make sure to put the cell phone in a water proof container or bag. If you capsize and the phone gets wet it will no longer be any use to you.

Also a very real danger in the harsh winter conditions is hypothermia. This is a condition where your core body temperature is reduced below the level that your body needs to function. When this happens your internal organs began to shut down and most certainly leads to a quick death if you do not get dry and warm quickly. When you get wet and Hypothermia starts to set in the first symptom is shivering, the next stage is mental confusion when this happens your chances for survival decrease exponentially.

You need to carry a dry bag with you with essential survival gear in these conditions without fail. The gear would include but not be limited to: Warm dry clothing, Fire starting materials, signaling device like mirror or flares. Towel, and some quick energy snacks like energy bars or trail mix.. Fresh water would not be a bad idea either, as you do not know how long you will be waiting on assistance. I have an expanded article on the contents and reasons for them here: Ditch Bag

You should dress differently also in these conditions. Layered warm clothing is a must. Wool is a great outer clothing as it does not lose its insulating qualities even when wet. If the water temp is below 55 degrees you might consider wearing a Dry Suit. These are expensive but will save your life. I used to wear a wet suit under my clothing when the water temp got low. A wet suit will hold body temp for a short period of time and gives you enough time to get to dry land if you are not too far from shore. However I have now changed to an outer layer of Dry pants and dry top with an under layer of Polypropylene or other performance under layer materials. Thick wool socks with knee high Neoprene kayaking boots. Toped off with a wool cap.

Rob Appleby has some great articles on the proper clothing to wear in these conditions.

Another thing you should do without fail is to leave a float plan with someone you trust. This is simply telling someone where you will be fishing and giving them a time that you will come out. If you do not report back in with them they can initiate a search and rescue operation. It is also important that you do report back in to prevent false alarms.

Also, you will always want to have a battle buddy with you. Two people increase the chances of survival if one of you should capsize. Do not fish alone in adverse conditions!

Perhaps the most important thing is WEAR your PFD! A PFD does you no good strapped to or stored inside your kayak.

Other than these few simple precautions; you should take along a healthy dose of common sense and good judgment. Most emergencies can be prevented by utilizing these liberally.

Just remember there is no trophy out there worth making widows and orphans.

Tight Lines,

1 comment:

Duke LaGroue said...

Life jacket, life jacket, LIFE JACKET! Many of us will go without one during the warmer months (but should NOT), or put it "within arms reach, you should always be wearing your life jacket from the time you put the kayak in the water until you get it back out of the water again. If you should capsize, with water temps in the 40's and 50's, you will lose the use of your arms and legs quickly. There is no time to "look for" your life jacket should it float away from you. Please, make the news by catching a big fish, NOT by leaving your family behind! ALWAYS wear your life jacket!!! ;-) Now, get out there and fish!!!