Kayaking During The Cold Chill Of Winter

By Cal Kellogg

I’m approaching the end of my first year as a kayak angler and I’ve got to confess that the sport has lived up to all my expectations and more.
My Hobie Pro Angler 14 from Kayak City has proven to be a deadly fishing platform whether I’m trolling for trout or casting for bass. The fact is, I’ve had just as much success fishing out of my kayak as I’ve had in years past while fishing out of a powerboat. But right now, I’m confronting a situation that I knew was coming…The cold months!
When you’re bank fishing or fishing out of a big powerboat, cold weather can be a factor, but not like when you’re kayaking. When you launch and retrieve a kayak, you’ve got to make contact with the water.
Furthermore, since you’re fishing from a small craft, despite the fact that modern fishing kayaks are extremely stable and I’ve never even came close to falling in, you’ve also got to assume you’re going to end up in the water during an emergency and you’ve got to plan accordingly.
As summer gave way to fall, I started wearing warmer clothes, but even when I visited Lake Almanor and Davis Lake in October when the air temperature was in the 20’s early I still went into the water barefoot when launching my kayak. Once afloat and offshore I dried my feet, put on heavy socks and got busy fishing.
That strategy doesn’t work now because the water temperatures have gotten a lot colder and it doesn’t warm up later in the morning like it did back in October. In short I can’t wade into the water barefoot anymore.
The obvious answer to my problem was a pair of waders, but I didn’t want chest waders. I didn’t want to get into a big hassle undressing my torso to pull down the waders the 318 times a morning I have to go to the bathroom…LOL.

I also wanted something with stocking feet as opposed to big clumsy boots. After a lot of searching I stumbled on Frogg Togg Pilot II Guide Pants. They are basically waist high stocking foot waders that come complete with a belt and zipper pockets.
The Frogg Toggs have solved all my problems. I wear running tights and socks underneath and don the same clog shoes I wore during the summer for walking around the launch. Once I’m in the kayak, the clogs come off and I spend the day peddling shoeless, just like I did during warm weather.
The rest of my cold gear is pretty standard consisting of a high quality low bulk jacket, stocking caps and neoprene gloves with a couple fingers strategically cut out so I can tie knots and manipulate my gear.
Overall the most important piece of gear I wear is my NRS Chinook Fishing PFD.
My Chinook is a type III floatation device, that features a specially designed back that doesn’t ride up while kayaking. This makes it super comfortable, but it’s more than just a life jacket.
The Chinook features a bunch of pockets small and large as well as various anchor points, making it a great way to organize and keep the gear I need close at hand.
Whenever you are on the water you should be wearing a PFD the entire time and this is doubly true when fishing from small craft. Get a comfortable PFD like my NRS Chinook and wear it. It just might save your life!