I recently had an opportunity to take a quick trip to Matagorda Bay here in Texas with my co-worker Jerron for some coastal winter kayak fishing. The game plan was to target trout in the morning and hope for the sun to lure some redfish into the flats for some easy catching. However, the weather didn’t quite cooperate the way we had hoped. While the forecast called for 10-15 mph winds out of the southwest with mostly sunny skies, the weather quickly turned on us. Shortly after getting on the water the winds shifted from the North and quickly approached the 20-25 mph range.
Paddling in winds over 20 mph may not necessarily be ideal paddling conditions in an open bay but with some practice in paddling technique, understanding how to use the weather to your advantage, and the right equipment it can certainly be achieved. If you’re like me, when you have a busy schedule, you take the opportunity to go fishing when you can regardless of the weather conditions.
The first and most important thing is to know what to expect in terms of the weather. As you can see, we were caught off guard, and could have easily avoided this scenario if we knew when this front was going to hit.
Next, know and respect your physical limitations. One-way to avoid getting tired too quickly is to use the weather to your advantage. For instance, if your launch point is facing north and the wind is coming from the same direction, head out directly against it. Once you’ve reached your destination, you can simply drift to where you started by letting the wind take you back to the launch point. Besides, you typically have more energy when you get started.
Of course the winds can shift on you without warning, and when they do, you can always rely on your gear to help you get through it. One thing I recommend for any kayak angler is to get a rudder. It will enable you to compensate for “weathercocking”, which is what happens when a side wind pushes the stern of your kayak causing your boat to always turn into the wind. It stabilizes the stern of the boat allowing you to maintain your normal paddling cadence for maximum efficiency. Without a rudder, you will constantly have to perform corrective paddle strokes in order to track straight. This will cause you to tire out more quickly and lose efficiency in your forward momentum.
Then there is always paddling technique. Stat by “feathering” your paddle. It does take a little time to get used to but once you get comfortable, it can make a huge difference. Your paddle blades act as small sails when the wind grabs them, so by feathering them you are setting them at an angle and your paddle blades can now essentially “slice” through the wind as opposed to hitting it face on.
We’ve recently talked about cold weather paddling apparel but I can’t stress how much of a difference a simple pair of gloves can make. I recently purchased the Stohlquist Fingerless Gloves. I highly recommend these because they help keep protect your hands from the elements, including the sun, as well as reduce the friction on your hands when paddling. Of course, as a kayak angler, the half finger design is imperative when fishing.
These are just a few tips to help make your kayak fishing trips a little easier on those windy days. If you ever have any questions or just want to come into the shop and talk kayak fishing come by our Houston location and we will be more than happy to share all our kayaking and fishing knowledge. And as always, we want to know more about our customers. Do you have any tips you’d like to share with us? Leave us a comment below.
ACK – Houston