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If you’re like me and live in the north, it gets cold.  Not just “where do the fish go when I’m paddling in the cold”, but the “Oh look! There’s 32 inches of ice over my favorite lake” kind of cold.   Its one the biggest issues facing kayak anglers in the North.  I get way to antsy staying in one spot and looking through the same hole in the ice.  is fun, I don’t have anywhere near the same passion for ice fishing as I do for kayak angling.   That being said (typed whatever), I thought I would compile a list of things I do throughout the wintery months to keep my mind on Kayak angling, which has been a major passion of mine for the 8 years.

Here we go….

-Winter Kayak fishing is possible! To find sweet spots in the winter in those frozen sections of the north look for coal plants on the map. Yes these not so friendly things can have a plus side.  The discharge by my closest plant keeps the surrounding waters at about 10-15 degrees C and open all year long while other lakes have super thick ice buildup.  Fishing on the cold days can be super dangerous, so please research and wear appropriate clothing and safety gear and its highly recommended not to fish alone.  

-Tackle craft. Jigs, flies, jerk baits, bucktails, topwater plugs, streamers and so on. If you can buy it then chances are you can make it at home. There’s lots of online resources (articles, how to vids etc.) out there to help you design the tackle of your dreams.  I for one am really into pouring and painting my own jigs.  I guess I just really enjoy the primal feelings I get when I melt and form metal. It definitely keeps my mind on the prize during the wintery months and creates another level of satisfaction, when you catch a lunker on a piece of tackle you made yourself. 

-modification and deep cleaning time! Can be done in a heated garage, or those without can (after appropriate bribes to your partner or roomie) haul your Jackson right into the living room or other indoor space.  There’re no worries about having your boat ready for the next outing or competition in the off season allowing you the time to do a non-rushed job of that mod you’ve been dying to do. Be it an extra rod holder, outrigger, trolley, or other awesomeness you can dream up.  This is also a prime opportunity to do some yearly maintenance, and give it a good vacuuming and cleaning to bring back that showroom shine. 

-pool sessions aren’t just for white water tricksters.  Its reasonably cheap in my area anyway to rent a pool with a lifeguard for an hour. Most pools will be open to letting kayaks in as long as they’re clean.  It’s a great opportunity to demo other people’s boats for a perspective buyer. But it’s a fantastic way to practice safety maneuvers like the self and assisted rescues in a controlled environment.  As an avid angler I don’t practice this enough and I know to many people that haven’t either. Its also a great way to see some familiar faces and friends that you don’t see too often. Beers and wings are mandatory after!!!

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas to fight off the wintery blues this coming cold season. Remember to be safe and have fun. See you on the water.


Andrew Watt