There is no set answer to your question. Itís based on your kayaking skill, your tolerance of risk, what species youíre after and frankly, common sense. Itís an individual choice. Even a full dry suit is not a guarantee of safety in cold water. I think the decisions you make about when and where to fish in your kayak in cold water are more important. And most critical is not putting yourself into a situation where water conditions exceed your skill level.
I fish without a dry suit all year long. I wear dry pants in the late fall, winter and early spring and layered clothing on top for warmth and of course a PFD. However, you wonít find me in big waters in high wind far from shore during those times. Nor will you find me fishing alone. If actual or forecasted weather exceeds my risk threshold I stay home. If water conditions at the launch are beyond my tolerance and skill I leave. And if conditions change for the worse while I am out, I hurry back. Frankly, I follow the same rules in warm weather.
Fortunately, there are lots of creeks and ponds nearby that allow me to wet a line throughout the cold months where I donít face howling winds, large boat wakes or two foot seas. I work the edges and hug shorelines of these creeks and ponds. Itís not risk free, of course. But neither is kayak fishing in July. The worst experience Iíve had with conditions in my kayak happened at Ft. Smallwood in warm weather. A change in weather made it difficult for me to get safely back to the launch. It was a struggle. That would not happen to me in cold water because I would never venture as far from shore as I was that day.
So, I wonít catch the impressive stripers reported here in recent weeks in the waters I fish. But I still find satisfaction in tangling with a few bass, pickerels or panfish. I can wait for the stripers. Theyíll be here soon in larger numbers (although not larger size). Iíll chase them then and be quite contented with fishing smaller waters in the meantime. We are really blessed with a variety of kayak fishing options here in central Maryland that provide year-round opportunities.
Olive Hobie Revo 13
Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12
Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
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