7 Tips For Kayak Safety
Successful and safe late season fishing starts with preparation. Weather will be fickle, and plans can change in a heartbeat, especially if you fish from a kayak. As waters chill, flipping is a reality anglers need to prepare for to handle confusion calmly. Fishing from a small boat or kayak in fall and winter months can be totally safe with some planning so to help keep everyone prepared, here are 7 late season kayak fishing tips to help you enjoy an extended fishing season.
Kayak Fishing In Cold Water Can Be Fun and Safe
- Paddle chord. Secure your paddle to your PFD. There are options for factory made rigs with snaps and buckles or you can be thrifty and rig up a bungee chord. Either way, if you experience an unplanned exit that paddle might be a lifesaver. You can wave it to attract attention, rest on it as floatation and use it to grab something, like your semi-submerged boat which might be leaving with a tide. If you have it tethered to the kayak, then it’s of no use.
- If you plan to fish well into the cold months, you will have less daylight and if something should go sideways, you’ll need to be seen. I’m a big fan of APALS, (All Purpose Adhesive Light Strips) made by Massachusetts’ Brite-Strike Technologies.
APALS are waterproof, crushproof, affordable, reliable, have 200 hours of runtime and are easily applied with adhesive backing. Their innovative light system allows you to be seen up to a mile away. Use them on your vest, stick a few on your boat and keep an extra few in a pocket.
Safety Tips For Safety Always
- IF FOUND sticker. These orange stickers should be adhered to any small boat. If you become separated from your kayak, the sticker will let someone know your name and way to contact you. They are free from local Coast Guard flotillas and may be the cheapest tip for kayak safety.
- I keep a portable Standard Horizon HX210 attached to my PFD. It can be a bit cumbersome as it hangs from my vest but for those late nights chasing bass around Narragansett, I like knowing channel 16 is a click away and when wet, it automatically turns on a white light. When I’m in fresh water or close to a beach and don’t anticipate requiring a helicopter response, the FM radio lets me listen to the Red Sox while I fish. Perfect.
- You do not want winter water in pants or boots; it adds cold weight and inhibits your ability to get back in the boat or swim to safety. A shot of Velcro around your pant leg might save your life because hypothermia is no joke. According to the University of Minnesota, Deluth, someone falling into freezing cold water, “will lose the ability to make coordinated hand and finger movements in less than 2 minutes. They will be exhausted and unconscious in less than 15 minutes and will drown if they are not pulled out quickly or if they are not wearing flotation gear.” So if you’re planning to chase white perch in the heart of winter, be prepared to stay dry.
- An avid and very successful kayak fisherman friend of mine went overboard this summer. He was trying to help another angler who had rolled in some near-shore surf and then was pitched himself. He survived just fine in warm waters but lost a lot of rods, reels, and gear. After dropping a favorite rod a few years back, I attached bungees to everything on my Eddyline kayak, except for the rod I’m using. It takes a few extra moments to unclip and clip, which can be a bear in cold air, but if something goes wrong, at least the gear will stay with your boat. And the routine of carefully exchanging rods or swapping tackle boxes should erase the urge to lurch or twist quickly for something, which might put you in peril. Rolling over happens in an instant.
- Some tips for kayak safety also includes the Talking Log Book Blues. Tell someone where you will be fishing, especially if you’re going it alone. No partner wants the exchange, “Where you going fishing? In the ocean…” Tell someone so they can tell someone else if they have to. And keep a log book. Good notes from late season fishing will save you time in the following years as we chase fish later and later. A little extra knowledge just might save your life.