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Fishing the Miserable but staying Warm and Dry

The 5th annual Gimme Shelter Kayak Fishing Tournament was on May 15th. This is the rockfish opener for the northern zone in Shelter Cove, California. Ninety-three registered anglers were due to arrive with a report of a storm moving in late on May14th, with rain and wind and snow at the higher elevations. I arrived at Shelter Cove on the 14th and the weather was great. Blue skies, mild temps and no wind. Could the weatherman be wrong? Not a chance. By 2am on the 15th the rain started beating against the camper shell letting me know that it was going to be an average May Nor-Cal day. We wouldn’t really want it any other way I think. A real test of equipment, stamina and fishing ability (notice I left out common sense).

At 5am the alarm goes off and I sit there listening to the rain and wind slapping the kayak straps against the shell. You know those times you’re all snuggled up in your sleeping bag – its cold and windy and you just want to stay there and have mommy bring you a nice hot cup of cocoa? Hah! I begrudgingly shake off the warmth of my bag and begin rooting around in the truck for my Kokatat T3 SuperNova Angler Paddling Suit and my layers of fleece. Minutes later I’m dressed and more important, I’m warm. After a little coffee and a bite to eat, I start rolling my kayak towards the launch area. Remarkably, I had the foresight to rig all my fishing equipment the night before so I was pretty happy about one less thing to do in the pouring rain. We get the whole lot of us down to the waters edge and then, BANG, let’s go!

Paddling out of Shelter Cove is pretty tricky as there are some reefs that at high tide are not exposed but with a big swell they turn into boilers. Getting out and around I get out into the wind and swell. There’s a 5-7 ft SW swell with a 3-4 NW swell and nice biting wind around 7 knots out of the south. Dark skies with a forecast for rain that I think we are most assured of. The water temp is a brisk 47 degrees. Cold and clear.

At around 7am I start fishing. I like to fish with my feet straddling the kayak for improved stability. As the day goes on my feet get cold but stay dry (the SuperNova Angler has built in waterproof socks). Had I worn some thicker socks I would have been perfect. Regardless, my core was warm and toasty and my hands stayed warm even without gloves because my blood was still running well to my extremities.

As the day wears on, more and more anglers are on the radio complaining of cold and losing feeling in their hands and feet. Some start shaking and are having trouble paddling in. Two guys capsize. No one is hurt and everyone makes it back to the beach okay.

This is the very first time I’ve worn my new Kokatat T3 SuperNova Paddling Suit out on the water and I’m telling you it made all the difference in the world that day. Where as people were falling by the wayside, I had no issues fishing the whole tournament up until the cutoff time at 2pm. Still warm, still dry. Amazing!

I caught 5 specie out of the possible 7. With the size I caught and the fact I received bonus points for releasing all fish, I managed to take 2nd place out of 93 anglers. The man who finished first caught 6 specie including a monster Pacific halibut that went 40lbs and over 47 inches. So I felt good about my placing. If not for the monster halibut I would have taken 1st. That’s fishing folks.

I ended up wearing the SuperNova Angler the whole rest of the day as the rain just did not let up. In fact, I wore it right up until bedtime, when I peeled it off to find I was still nice and dry and just climbed into the bag and drifted off happy and warm. I was already a big fan of Kokatat from various paddle jackets, pants and PFDs I’d bought in the past, but now I’m the big born again Kokatat convert – Step right up ladies and gentlemen! See the fisherman stay warm and dry right before your very eyes!

So I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve been telling all my buddies at the norcalkayakanglers, if you’re fishing in inclement weather, buy yourself a T3 SuperNova Angler Paddling Suit. They’re not giving them away but just one day warm and dry instead of cold and wet and you’ll sure be glad you did.

Now all I need is some of those Chota Mukluks.

Thanks Kokatat!

Craig Davis, Ocean Kayak Pro fishing staff / Team Clavey

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