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 be life threatening, 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 a 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 nor in a kayak.
If you plan on fishing year-round from your kayak, a Kokatat 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 the highest quality dry suits and PFDs for the paddling industry. Following the demand from a growing kayak fishing market, Kokatat listened to their customers and came out with the Hydrus 3L Supernova Angler semi-dry suit - designed for fishermen. The latex neck gasket (commonly used in whitewater and sea kayaking dry suits) was replaced with a more comfortable neoprene neck gasket. The Supernova Angler was reinforced with Cordura® fabric to protect from sharp hooks, fish spines and high abrasion areas. Depending on the weather, the Supernova Angler will give you plenty of room to adjust your base layers with the appropriate weight insulation. Polartec® Power Dry® insulators are designed to work with Kokatat’s dry suits to keep you warm on the inside while the waterproof suit protects you from the elements like rain, wind, and snow. Did I fail to mention the Relief Zipper, which is a must have in my opinion!
Next to protecting you noggin with a warm hat, your feet are equally as important. With 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 boots for fishing. The waterproof/breathable upper gaiter is adjustable and comes up to the knee which provides protection during launch and comfort in variable temperature and weather conditions, making them ideal for when you’re having to wade in to remove or insert scupper wheels in the water. Dry feet are warm feet.
I’m a Hobie guy, so I’m a “pedaler” and not a paddler. I’ve never been a fan of wearing gloves, mittens, finger-less 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 fisherman? There are several manufacturers that make hand warmer muffs. I chose a hunting one by Midway. So if you just can’t wear gloves, this is 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.