I tend to fish all months of the year, in order to do this comfortably it is important to be sun smart and immersion smart when considering your choice of clothing. A range of suitable clothing is available from most kayaking stores or online at affordable prices. Unfortunately there is a myriad of options out there making it hard to know where to spend your money, so I’ve put together a collection of some of the options I think are worth considering. The following is just a quick guide of some of the gear I tend to use and not an exhaustive list by any means, but you can follow the links to find stockists and outlets to source the gear for yourself. Contact us if assistance/advice is required.
During warmer weather, the more you can cover up, the less sunscreen you have to apply! You should also consider moisture-wicking and drying-times when kayak fishing and as a result do not use any cotton clothing or rash vests as they dry slowly and are cold when wet. Wet suits are great in the water, but out of it they act like a Coolgardie fridge with the wind carrying away your body heat in much the same way as an evaporative cooler does in your home.
There are a couple of options for head wear during summer. You can either go with a hat & buff combo or an all in one flap hat. Buff offer a wide range of face scarves that fit the bill, and an official Buff® buff can be purchased from Technical Headwear or most outdoor sports stores. If you go down the road of an all in one unit, you can get the Adapta-cap from Sun Protection Clothing Australia.
Up top long sleeves help cover the skin to protect from the elements. This can be in the form of a light thermal such as the 2P Thermo from Adrenalin or a lightweight UPF50 polo from Sun Protection Clothing Australia. In the height of summer a UPF fishing shirt can also fit the bill. Avoid the cotton t-shirts and rashies and on colder days you can layer up with a spray top or cag jacket from Lovig’s or Kokotat.
On sit-on-top kayaks and skis we don’t have the luxury of leg protection from the deck of our boats so again coverage is key. A pair of lightweight UPF paddling pants or cargo pants can do the trick on warmer days such as those available from SPCA or if there is a breeze about a pair of light thermal pants can do the job nicely again the Adrenalin 2P thermos fit the bill.
Due to sharps on the beach as well as landing on slippery rocks and reefs, some protection for your feet is very important and often overlooked. So pop a pair of old runners on or pick up a pair of dive boots and you are ready to go!
Winter can be a little harder with a lot of paddlers opting to put their kayaks away until the sun comes out again. There is plenty of great fishing to be had down south over winter, with monster whiting and squid in Western Port as well as the usual quality flake. There are always some solid flatties available in North PPB until June not to mention trout in the fresh and not forgetting the tuna down at Portland. Water temperatures plummet however and hypothermia is a real threat if you do go for an unplanned swim.
I normally go for a thermal beanie (polypro not neoprene) to keep the heat in, again Adrenalin have one on offer and I wear my buff and sunnies all year round.
Up top during winter in milder conditions you can again roll out the Adrenalin thermals and if you really feel the cold you can also add merino layers or something heavier like a Lavacore long sleeve. Essentially you are looking for clothing that dries quickly and stays warm even when wet. You can then add a protection layer over the top to keep out the wind and rain. Hoods are a welcome addition on your cag to stop the rain running down your neck and stop the wind whistling in your ears. Check out the Lovig dry top or the kokotat tropos range as suitable outer layers.
A pair of gloves will help keep the circulation in your hands, especially on windy days or after a cold launch in sloppy conditions. I prefer finger-less gloves to allow me to cast easily when fishing. SPCA offer these fingerless gloves in a good range of sizes, you can also get Sea to Summit versions in Anaconda stores. When just out for a paddle a set of pogies are also an excellent option.
On my lower half I usually have a pair of thermals (Adrenalin or Lavacore) with a warm pair of socks (merino or thermal not cotton) under a pair of dry pants. Depending on how much you want to spend there are a couple of options out there again both Lovig and Kokotat have good offerings, pants with incorporated socks make winter launches a breeze! Again footwear is a must, not only to protect your feet but also to protect the socks on your drypants from accidental perforation.
The majority of winter gear for kayaking is very much a case of function over fashion so a change of clothes is always a good idea in remote areas in case of an emergency landing where you might require a lift to town. A waterlogged yakker in full garb might have a hard time thumbing a lift!
The main goal is to be able to layer up properly to allow you to fish right through the colder months, after all there is no such thing as a season too cold for kayaking , just the wrong gear for the conditions! Don’t forget to practise deep water re-entries in your new gear as it can often be much harder in full winter gear than in the lighter layers you would wear in the height of summer. Also if you have found more gear worthy of a mention add it in the comments below.