Staying warm winter fishing.

I used to fish from a canoe or jon boat and never did anything special to keep warm in the winter other than wear the usual outer wear…jacket, etc. Of course, I’m in the gulf coast of Texas and cold here means in the 40’s, but the water still is pretty damn cold. Since beginning to fish from a kayak, I’ve found that I do tend to stay a bit damper. Though I have a sit-in, I still find that I ship a bit of water from the paddles, though I have the drip rings on the shaft. Also, it doesn’t seem that I can avoid getting at least my feet wet getting out of my kayak. Am just wondering what the rest of you guys do for the cold when fishing in the winter.

still use
the layering of different materials. I live in up-state NY, and paddle till the ice forms. I usually get my feet wet getting in and out, so I take a couple pairs of wool hunting socks and put them on after getting in. Just the socks, no boots or shoes etc. If the wool gets wet ,it still keeps your feet warm. The new Under-armor underwear that the pro-football guys wear is great stuff. Light and warm.

Have fun. Paddle safe.

A couple comments
First, a rule that I heard and don’t recall the source is that if the water temperature (F) and the air temperature (F), when added together is 100 or less, you’re in severe risk of hypothermia.

So, the main thing is plan to stay dry. Second, plan how you will get dry and warm QUICK if you do get wet.

I use chests waders with a tight belt, wonder-fabric insulation (some NRS stuff, some Under-Armor stuff), and neoprene gloves. I’ve actually learned to use a bait-casting reel with neoprene gloves on. A bit of a trick.

Next, have dry, warm clothes in a dry bag, along with materials that will allow you to start a fire even if the wood you can scrounge up is wet. There’s a bazillion different devices for that.

Third, no cotton. Anywhere. Not even skivvies.

Fourth, use your head on the water you’ll be in. If it’s rated water, add a rating or two, i.e., treat a class II rapid like a class III or IV.

Fifth, pick shorter trips.

Sixth, buddy system.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a bunch. The main thing is the first items. Plan how to stay dry and what you’re going to do to get dry and warm if you get wet.

I paddle rivers, so my plan includes being able to get to shore reasonably quickly to light a fire. If you’re going off-shore where there is no bank, then your plan should include some different steps.

  • Big D

Big D covered it
pretty well.

I use NRS Dry Pants and their knee-high neoprene river booties. Wick-dry shirts and synthetic layers as the weather requires. Not completely waterproof…but then if you dump…nothing really is, unless you’re in a complete dry suit and scuba gear. The knee-high boots are de’ reguier this time of year. Nothing more miserable than cold, wet feet all day. Most of the rivers and steams that ‘D’ and I paddle are fairly shallow and narrow. You can be on the bank in a couple of minutes after a dunking. The dry bag set up as a bail-out kit is the most important item. Keep your warmest clothes in the dry bag, and especially that fire-starting gear. Mine is always set up to start a fire, dry off, change the clothes, and even spend the night on the bank (in the rain) if necessary… That means you need dry, non-perisable, high energy/carb-loaded food in the bag too. I start carrying it in Sept…(even down here in the south) I don’t paddle without it until late June…even after that, weather conditions will dictate.

My outfit
Capilene long underwear. Polyester fleece pants. Polyester fleece jacket. A nonbreathable sailing bib - sitting in a SOT with your butt in water, the nonbreathable seems to work better. Since everything you are wearing underneath is hydrophobic, and the pants are open at the chest and cuffs, I don’t notice a lot of dampness from condensation. If needed I wear a helly hansen sailing jacket, but usually don’t, with the PDF and my own body heat from paddling keeping me warm enough. Fleece skicap. Glacier gloves. On my feet, depending on my mood, I wear a pair of Gill sailing booties with thermax sock liners and thorlo wool blend hiking socks, or Salomon amphibious shoes over sealskinz socks over thermax sock liners. But I paddle stable SOTs in very shallow water, so immersion isn’t a huge concern.

Because I sometimes fish rivers with
sections that must be waded, pulling the yak behind me, I’m thinking of going with neoprene waders with a belt to keep water out. Any experience with those? I’ve always waded wet in warm water, so never have had any waders.

I’ve tried them

– Last Updated: Oct-28-05 4:02 PM EST –

I've been up on ski trips in the canadian rockies, and I get bored with skiing after about a day, so I usually go flyfishing. As you can imagine, the water is pretty cold, and I have used several different typs of waders, and have found I like the neoprene ones best, but prefer the sock type foot. It allows you to put a wading boot on over it. Standing in icewater, I really need a loose shoe to keep my feet warm (plus 3 pair socks), and the combo allows for more looseness.

Here are some inexpensive ones from Bass Pro. I think Red Head is Bass's own brand. I've bought clothes, but not waders from them.

Bought a pair of Redhead leather sandals
from Bass Pro. After less than five months, the rubber sole, which is really thick, cracked. Also, the straps stretched way out of shape. Compare that to a pair of Clarks I had over 10 years before the dog got ahold of the straps and chewed them off. Maybe the waders are better. My concern about waders, tho, is getting in and out of a sit-in kayak.

I prefer breathable
They’re lightweight, but loose enough that you can wear insulating layers underneath.

I’ve got a pair of White River (the BPS house brand) that satisfies me. Was given a pair of Simms, but they didn’t fit right and so returned them. Was able to buy the BPS brand, some wading boots, and a bunch of flies for the price of the Simms. Good brand worth the money if they fit you, though.

  • Big D

Winter wear
With a sit inside kayak you would be comfortable and cozy with a spray skirt and Goretex jacket.

The skirt would keep you from being exposed to the elements, does not “trap” you in the kayak and would keep paddle drips out of the cockpit.

I wear a Goretex jacket with hood in the winter that has been a godsend.

Old Town is coming out with a lighter version (sort of like thermo-form) of their line of “Cayuga boats” which are sit-inside kayaks. They paddle like a dream and you can bet I will be wearing a spray skirt and fishing out of one in the winter as soon as it becomes available.

Just a thought, check in with Dean Thomas over on the Texas Kayak Fishing board. He is a paddle fishing guide and owns a kayak shop in Port Aransas. I believe his screen name is Slowride". Dean would be your best resource for what works in your neck of the woods.

Hope this helps.

I read and post to
There’s been two long threads on winter wear while kayak fishing. Your input is a bit different, since most on the board use SOT’s. I’m not as sure of the SOT as I once was, now that I’ve gotten more familiar with my sit-in. Now, I’m just wishing it were longer, at least 13 ft, and faster. The spray skirt sounds like a good idea, its just finding one that fits my Necky. Hate to go back to the dealer, he’s higher than a cat’s back. Also 35 miles away, with really bad traffic.