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Hi
Question for the group. Im thinking about doing some winter fishing in whats left of Jan and then some in Feb in NC. What do you recommend as far as clothing considering its possible I could fall in the water? I use a sit on top kayak and its not normal to fall in but it can happen. Thinking about buying a dry suit and then just wearing some warm clothing over top? Thinking that waders is a bad idea. Your thoughts? What do the rest of you do? Thanks
Don
 

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I’ve had a dry suit before…. And hated it. The neck, arms, and legs are sealed and the neck area chafes like crazy. It’s also hard to go to the bathroom with one on… and you will need to go, since you won’t be sweating very much and it’s cold. (I recommend a sturdy Gatorade bottle and small oil funnel for that…)

I usually wear a layer of thermals, then waterproof snow pants with two pairs of socks and hip waders that allow me to launch without getting wet. I can usually get by with wearing a heavy jacket (a fleece carhartt with hood) on most days, but when it’s in the 20s-30s, I’ll wear a heavy jacket and will have 1-2 pairs of gloves (fingerless wool gloves for dexterity and full finger gloves or mittens for warmth!)

The hardest part is keeping extremities warm. I’ll sometimes bring insulated boots to put on after I get launched to keep my toes warm. And your fingers will get cold anytime they’re exposed or get wet, so it’s a good idea to have a dry towel to wipe water / fish slime off your hands. Finally (and one of the most important!) a handkerchief, because your nose will be constantly running. I wear a wool watch cap to keep my head warm or a face mask on the days it’s especially cold.

You can always keep some spare clothes in a dry bag on your kayak or car if you’re really worried. I’ve been paddling 3-4 winters now and this set-up works pretty well for me




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I am out in my yak 1-2 days a week all year. Just got back as a matter of fact.
A dry suit will definitely protect you but you layer up underneath not on top. The down side is if it is not oversized then you won’t be able to get enough layers underneath to stay warm. Mine is an X-Large and I have enough room for clothing. The neck and wrists are a tight seal but that’s the price you pay for protection. Mine has a zipper for taking a leak in said Gatorade bottle.

Look into Artic Armor. It is a snowmobile suit that will keep you afloat and dry. I might pull the trigger on one myself.

For boots I have a pair of “ Infernos” that I had for ice fishing when I lived up north. Warm as heck but they don't
Sky Gesture Fin Fish Bottlenose dolphin

Sky Shark Fin Fish Lamniformes

go up very high so I have to be careful on water depth. Again buy bigger for extra socks. Wool preferred. Cover your neck and head. 2 pairs of gloves.Some type of warm hat too.

It was cold today but I was fine. My feet were a bit cold but my boots , not the Infernos, are junk.

Caught 4 today all were this size.

~JOE~
 

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I have been kayaking out in winter for many years. First of all, we are not in the north and you don't need a dry suit for kayak fishing. My understanding is a drysuit is a must for winter whitewater kayaking. If you really want one, get a semi-dry one. They are much cheaper and easy to put on and off. Here is my winter kayak fishing dress, a Glacier fishing glove (fingerless), a dawn jacket (ultralight for backpacking) for extreme cold day, but usually a fleece was enough, a rain pant, a wind and waterproof jacket. I also wear a sealskinZ waterproof hiking sock anding hunt boot for launching kayak and keeping my foot warm.
 

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If you don't fall in then of course you don’t need a dry suit. I was out on Saturday and the water temp was 43 degrees. Fall in and after 10 minutes you will wish you had a dry suit.

Each person makes their own choices then either lives with that choice or dies with it.
I would imagine if a person wearing a dry suit fell into 43 degree water and then managed to somehow get to shore or back in their yak they wouldn’t say “ that dry suit is a pain to put on I don’t think I will wear it again.”

Here is some info I found after a quick search , Hypothermia Table

~JOE~
 

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I just wear fishing pants that dry fast with a long johns as a base layer I also where a pull over top that is made of a synthetic material not sure what it is but it’s warm and drys fast when wet as well as wool socks and boots that are easily taken off just in case I need to swim you be surprised how heavy all the winter clothing can be when they are wet and how fast your body will start to shut down in cold water

also never forget your PFD

I also make sure I bring extra clothes to change into just in case as well as a way to start a fire as a last resort to get warm if I were to fall out or flip over

I also try and go by the 120 rule so if the air and water temps are not above 120 when you add them together and I want to fish I try and find someone to go with or stay in an area with plenty of traffic just in case
 

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I wear a "farmer john" type wetsuit and neoprene socks under nylon fishing pants and NRS fishing shoes. I wear ultralight thermal underwear top and a fleece jacket and neoprene gloves.. I've broken ice on a 30 acre lake in Alamance County with a kayak paddle on my annual Jan 1st Kayak paddle. Have not tipped a kayak in the this gear but I've been wet to my thighs on some very cold days. Been warm enough and am convinced, if I capsized, I have more than enough time to recover before hypothermia sets in.
 

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A couple of thoughts. There's a saying, "Cotton kills", meaning wet cotton clothing is almost worse than nothing. Wool has long been known to hold some insulating properties even if wet. Merino wool base layers aren't cheap but IMO well worth the money. There are also some synthetics that will still maintain some insulating when wet. Maybe right out of the gate, clothing choices should be considered. Typical blue jeans, flannel shirt and Carhart jacket may not be the best choices in a kayak. If you get off the fishing gear sites and onto paddling gear sites, there are lots of outer pants and jackets, gloves, etc. that will keep your clothes dry from paddle drip, splashes, wakes, and such.

I can't speak to wetsuits though I have stood for hours in a trout streams with below freezing temperatures wearing neoprene waders and they are the real deal.

That said, the biggest danger is capsize and if you fall in during winter with cold water and cold air, and particularly if alone, you are immediately in a life threatening situation. I think it is an absolute necessity to practice getting back in or on your kayak until you can do it in a matter of seconds. The shock of the cold water will make it difficult and in literally just a few minutes, you may not be able any longer to self rescue, no matter how physically fit you are. Of course I'd suggest practicing this during summer months!
 
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