Beware of Hypothermia

by Bryant Franklin

Fall is in full swing, the colder weather is upon us and striper season about to start; we’re excited around the Chesapeake Bay area. I will miss chasing the big blue cats on the James River, but it’s time for rockfish season. I must really stress (yes I know, kayak anglers are tired of hearing it), the number one killer-Hypothermia. Yes I said it, that’s when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees. I am not the person who wears a PFD in the summer and I take that risk on myself, but when the water gets below 60 my PFD goes on and when the water gets below 55 I bring out and wear my winter gear. The real danger of cold water comes long before hypothermia, however; the cold shock hits first and your body is drastically trying to figure out how to warm itself up. Panic sets in, and the first thing to try to remember is to calm down then collect yourself mentally. Flip your kayak over, pull yourself across it’s hull, and climb back in. Get to shore as fast as you can. Body movement is important, as it generates heat. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help! It could save your life, and without the proper gear you stand a good chance of not making it. While they are expensive, a dry suit is the best protection you can buy. If that’s out of your price range, at least buy some good chest waders that you can layer underneath a dry shell jacket. Wear a belt around the top of the waders, and most important a PFD that will keep you high in the water. I know some of you are saying “I’ve never flipped a kayak, and I’m careful.” I too used to say that but we lost a Navy Seal last year when he flipped his yak and the water took him. I am tired of hearing on the news or reading about  that we lost another kayak angler due to not wearing the proper gear. Appomattox River Company and the Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association team up to host a clinic every November; check out their websites or Facebook pages for the exact date. Christmas is this month; maybe you or your favorite angler needs a new lifejacket to replace that old raggedy PFD you’ve been wearing. Put it on your Christmas list—your kids want you around for next Christmas! Let’s have a good and safe rockfish season, a great Holiday Season, and tight lines