Cold Water Kayak Fishing

Adam Rourke’s Top 3 Cold Water Kayak Fishing Safety Tips

With the stability of fishing kayaks constantly improving, it’s easy to feel invincible on the water regardless of the weather conditions. As Summer starts to wind down and the cool mornings of fall begin, it’s extremely important to take some extra steps to ensure your safety when cold water kayak fishing

There are many things that can go wrong when it comes to dealing with cold water, but hypothermia is one of the most dangerous. Many anglers think that just wearing additional layers and warmer footwear will be enough to stay warm and safe. In some cases this is true, but if you ever end up submerged, those layers of clothing quickly start to work against you. 

The layers of clothing hold the cold temperatures against your body while your boots fill with water turning into weights on your feet. Cold water kayak fishing is not something to underestimate, so if you’re determined to get out, here are a few tips to do so safely.

Cold Water Kayak Fishing | Tip #1: Wear Your Dry Suit

Drysuits are always something that’s on my “To-Buy” list but never happens because of the costs associated with a good drysuit. At first, the prices are off-putting but a little bit of research will quickly show you the technology that goes into these suits and how well they work. 

These suits can literally be a matter of life and death, so while it may cost you upfront, it may save your life later on.

Drysuits form a seal and keep water out which gives an angler a significant advantage against hypothermia if they happen to be submerged. The suit itself will not keep you warm but it will allow for different layers to be worn underneath, allowing you to dress for the specific conditions.

Cold Water Kayak Fishing | Tip #2: The 120-Degree Rule

Along with Drysuit and arguably before you grab a dry suit, you should be aware of the 120-degree rule. This rule allows an angler a baseline “rule-of-thumb” to go by when looking into weather conditions. The way the 120-degree work is simple and offers a quick formula for any kayaker to use before a trip. 

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What you do is take the air temperature and the water temperature and add them together. If the value of those two numbers is less than 120, a dry suit should be worn. 

If the value is higher than 120, the threat of hypothermia is lessened. This rule isn’t perfect and discretion should still be used, but it’s a great starting point whenever considering a cold water kayak fishing trip.

Cold Water Kayak Fishing | Tip #3: Don’t Go Alone

One of the advantages of kayak fishing is how easy they are to transport, which allows for some great solo trips when our pals are busy working or whatever else. The summer is a great time for solo trips, the weather is typically warm enough that we don’t have to be concerned about cold water. 

Overall, it’s a good rule to always go out with a buddy, we never know what’s going to happen. 

As the fall weather starts to kick in, it’s even more important to practice the buddy system whenever you go out fishing. This ensures that if something were to happen to you or your buddy there will be someone there to help out. Kayak anglers get extremely comfortable on the water just simply from the amount of time we spend out there, but we should never underestimate it. 

We don’t know how we’ll react if we were to tip and it’s often how we’d like to think we’ll react. It’s always a good idea to have someone there who can help you just in case.

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Adam Rourke


Adam Rourke is a bass angler with over 10 years of tournament fishing experience. About eight years ago, he shifted his focus to the sport of kayak bass fishing which led him qualifying for the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship in 2018 and 2019.

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