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As the temperatures and mercury drop even further going into winter, those lucky kayak anglers who live in the southern part of America and who don't have to chip through thick ice in order to find water may be tempted to put in a fishing kayak in order to throw a line, no matter what the thermometer says.
Many of us are dedicated to kayaking and fishing no matter the time of year, but we have to be knowledgeable, careful and aware of the dangers in how we approach cold weather and how to keep safe while fishing from a kayak.
Hypothermia is a term that is thrown around quite often, but what is it, and when is it a danger? Simply put, you are considered hypothermic any time your body temperature reduces below 95 degrees, your body starts shutting down appendages, it starts violently shivering, and every day functions become very difficult. A lot of people think that you can only get hypothermia in subzero temperatures, but this is false. When water reaches 55 degrees the danger of becoming hypothermic is increased by 20 percent.
The real dangers of cold water come LONG before hypothermia kicks in. Initially when your fishing kayak capsizes in cold water, you experience something called the cold shock response. This is when your body is suddenly and drastically trying to figure out how to warm you up. Your heart races, your brain is firing off signals trying to figure out what happened, and your breathing becomes rapid, making it easy to panic when your fishing kayak flips.
A fishing kayak personal floatation device (PFD) will significantly increase your chances both as an insulator and helping to stay afloat, and it's always smart to wear one anytime you are on the water while kayak angling. This time of year when the temperature of the water and air is low, WEARING a PFD is not optional, it’s necessary to know how to increase your survival odds. Your best bet is to slow yourself down, breathe and collect yourself mentally. Next, your body will realize that it’s in an environment that isn’t sustainable so it will think “ok shut off all non-essential activities” your arms and legs will be the first to experience a shutdown, this happens within 10 minutes. If you aren’t wearing your fishing kayak PFD how can you swim while your body is deciding you don’t need your arms and legs? Wear it.
If you do flip in water this cold while kayak fishing, there are a few things that you need to know how to do to increase your chances, and prevent the onset of hypothermia:
Preparing for a worst-case scenario while kayak fishing is the best way to prevent it from happening. Have your fishing kayak PFD on, a whistle or air horn handy, dry clothes and a way to start an emergency fire. If you follow these steps while kayak angling you can save yourself in a very dire situation, and knowing how to make sure you're in a position to be the safest you can be when venturing out in cold waters will ensure you have a safe and good time during the colder months.
- Matt Charette, Vibe Pro Fishing Team
- Photo credit, Matt Charette