By: Dan Carns
January and February are considered winter months here is Southwest Florida. While that may seem impossible due to the huge influx of tourists sporting shorts and tank tops, rest assured that the locals have broken out their winter gear and the fish sense the cooling waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the many estuaries here. There may be beautiful stretches of bluebird skies and warm temperatures, but the water is chillier than you may think.
Many of us kayak anglers love fishing with a buddy or in a group but as you may have seen we are often alone. That’s where your personal safety comes into play. It seems counterintuitive to have to say this, but kayaking is a watersport and all too often people expect to stay dry in their kayak. What if it rains or gets super windy and choppy? The truth is kayaks are within inches of the water and even though it may be a flat calm day there is going to be boat traffic and crossing boat wakes that will likely enter your kayak. Are you prepared to stay warm if you get wet. There is a great selection of quick dry pants and long sleeve shirts available and while you may want to work on your tan while you’re out fishing you cannot escape the sun’s rays. You will be completely exposed so having something to cover up with is key to a great day on the water. Water shoes are mandatory for kayaking in S.W. Florida as the water is full of oyster shells that will open you up like a razor and shoes can help you stay warm. Water shoes will also protect you from the searing sun. Big floppy hats that cover your ears will also help keep the sun off your face as well. Don’t forget that the sun is bouncing off the water so sunglasses are a must!
Next in terms of personal safety you are required by law to carry a lifejacket and a sounding devise such as a whistle. While you are not required to wear a lifejacket, I would encourage you start wearing it on your next trip out. It could save your life if you find yourself in the water and it’s almost impossible to put one on once you’re in the water.
An anchor may not seem like safety gear, but in fact it may help you or a fellow kayaker if the weather turns or find yourself in a raging tide that your too tired to fight. An anchor can also help you maintain a perfect position for fishing if its windy.
Just an FYI, if you use sunscreen or bug spray make sure you have a way to clean your hands off as the fish can smell chemicals that you transfer onto your lures and lines. Also do not over spray these on your rods, reels, lines and lures!
Be prepared and have a great day on the water!