Neil Taylor, Strike Three Kayak Fishing


We live in just about the best place in the country for outdoor activities in the winter months and also for stellar fishing action. The long hot summers can be oppressive for daytime anglers. Flip it to the opposite time of year, honestly, we are pretty wimpy BUT the risk of danger and hypothermia are real.

More than anything, it is usually just about staying comfortable. First off, make the right choices. “If” to go; “Where” to go; “When” to go are concepts that will make the day a success or have you at home that night asking yourself “Why did I go?”

So: What about January for fishing in the Tampa Bay area of Florida? Potentially the coolest month of the calendar year, the fish are there and they have to eat to survive. Therefore, it is a time of opportunity but with the potential of colder weather, some things can make the experience much more enjoyable and successful for anyone who doesn’t want to “sit it out” waiting for Sping.

However you do it, the overall theme is “stay dry.” For the kayak angler, more opportunities to fail at this. Big solutions for most of these issues, clothing. Waterproof jackets and pants are going to cover most of these challenges. The biggest culprit for getting wet and instantly cold: Paddle drip. Go with the waterproof clothing but also learn to paddle without lifting your paddle up high out of the water. How warm you are above the dry clothing is all about “layering.” The colder the day, the more layers under your jacket will preserve heat. Remove layers for comfort and store them in a dry place should you want to use that item again.

Simplicity in the name of the game: Dress for it and you can enjoy all the opportunities that wintertime fishing has to offer. “Gear up” with waterproof jacket and pants, wear extra layers underneath as necessary. For anglers who may want to get out and wade, breathable waders are a great choice. In the water, it keeps you from getting wet and chilled. Out of the water, you won’t get overheated if things do warm up during the day. Safety is always first, and there are perils to the wintertime scene. Of course, no one wants to fall in the water but…. Wear your personal flotation device! Those “layers” will make you sink like a rock if you end up in the water but the vest will keep you afloat. If you are using the breathable waders, a wade-belt helps to seal the top of the waders preventing water from going in, but it will also push your upper torso into the water unless you are wearing the life vest. If not wearing your vest, have it in a location where you can reach it easily. “Layers” means the opportunity to soak up water creating a dangerous situation if you end up in the water.

Does color matter? I will tell you that my wintertime attire is black and navy blue which means solar heat absorption. Contrast to the rest of the year: I do not wear anything dark in those months.

Oversize dry bags with towels and a change of clothes is a great way to prevent hypothermia should you take an unscheduled Polar Bear swim. Get out of the wet clothes and change into dry, warm replacements that were “on the ready” and you will be very happy you had it along.

Any doctor will tell you, most of your heat escapes from your extremities: Which, in this case is your head and your feet. So, that in mind, do you have a good hat that will keep in that heat and what is your choice in footwear? Wade boots are a great option but another one “mastering the Dry Launch.” Can you get in your boat or kayak without getting your feet and legs wet? If you can, you are way ahead of the game. It is really pretty simple: “Stay dry, stay warm!”

Pro tip:  Don’t forget your summer wear for winter fishing.   Two of your buffs, doubled up on your head is adequate extra warmth.   Most body heat escapes from the head:  Wear the buffs and retain some of that warmth.

Neil Taylor
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