Winds of Shift

Always stay up-to-date on the weather forecast

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.

Most paddles give you the option to "feather" the blades.

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.

Stohlquist Warmers Fingerless Gloves

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

Now that the ProFootball Season is over in Texas…

NRS Endurance Jacket

Okay, maybe not over but I amongst many other Texas football fans, are probably starting to loose some interest in football this season. My faith in both the Cowboys and even the Texans is starting to dwindle. With two recent wins, there seems to be a small sense of hope for the Cowboys but my mind is already off the couch and in the water which brings me to this — think of it an as an opportunity for some Sunday winter paddling!

NRS Cross-4 Wetshoe

With temperatures staying relatively mild for most of the southern half of the state, it’s not that difficult to plan an outdoor paddling adventure. However, when preparing for paddling even in the mildest of winters, your focus needs to be on layers for both comfort and safety. For many parts of Texas, daytime highs can easily reach into the upper 70s and in some areas farther south, the low 80s but those temperatures can fluctuate dramatically within a few hours. Daytime highs in the upper 70s can easily turn to low 50s just after sunset. Ever heard the saying, “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, just wait…”? Well, there is a reason for that. Texas is known for sudden weather changes so it is always important to be prepared.

NRS Farmer John Wetsuit

Start with a base layer using the Hydrosilk Long Sleeve Shirt, partnered with the  Endurance Pants and Jacket along with a pair of high-top paddling boots like the Cross-4 Wetshoes.  I also recommend you take along dry bag with you because chances are you may have to shed some of those layers depending on what time of the day you are paddling and you’ll want a dry place to store them in case it cools off again.

NRS Rogue Gloves

For those of you that are not blessed the mild “winters” we experience along the gulf coast of Texas you may need to add a few items.  A Farmer John wetsuit between your base layer and splash jacket will do the trick. Consider the Stohlquist Splash Down Jacket with a built in hood as a substitute for the Endurance Jacket. I would also suggest the Stohlquist Mooners II Dry Pants as an upgrade to the Endurance Pants. The Mooners have latex rubber ankles cuff covers, which well help keep you dry. Top it all off with NRS HydroSkin Wetsocks and a pair of  Rogue Gloves with neoprene cuffs to help keep both your hands and feet warm. Visit our apparel section to view our complete line of dry and splash wear, regardless of your destination, you’ll be sure to find something that meets your needs.

So if you are done with football or just need to get out of the house over the holidays, outfitting yourself with proper apparel will provide a more comfortable and safe adventure this winter.