Today’s topic is selecting clothing best suited for Southern California kayak fisherman.
There is no set style, look, or requirement when outfitting for kayak fishing. Everyone has their own preference. Some like to dress the part and just put on some old clothes that are ratty, torn, faded and plain old ugly! In my opinion, it’s time to roll with the changes and advances in clothing and utilize them to not only keep you cool and dry in the heat, but also to help protect you from the elements. Trust me, clothing won’t make you a better fisherman, but it will make a long day on the water a lot more comfortable.
Here in SoCal we don’t have much “weather” to speak of. Our year is made up of short cold snaps in the winter and the remainder of the year is primarily spring/summer weather. The only obvious difference with summer weather is that it’s hotter than spring. That being said, let me stress the importance of sunblock.
Sunblock is your friend. Make sure you apply it liberally. Sitting on a Hobie keeps you on top of fish, but also keeps you water level and closer to the glare of the sun from the ocean. It’s like a huge mirror reflecting sun rays onto your body. And this happens rather quickly. In summer months I suggest wearing cooler clothing–lighter colors, UPF shirts, or long sleeve shirts. UPF clothing is made of lightweight material that helps block harmful sun rays and help wick away sweat from your body. This alone will help you stay cooler.
Now, the dilemma is whether to wear pants or shorts. Actually, it’s up to you. I like to wear board shorts. They’re light, they can get wet and dry quickly and there are endless design options. Pants are a great option also but your legs will get hot quickly in warm weather. If you don’t have venting in your pants you’ll be stuck being uncomfortable all day while you’re fishing. A quick fix is to pack a pair of shorts in your dry bag and stow it in one of your storage hatches on your kayak. Or, better yet, buy a pair of pants that can convert into shorts.
As for footwear, again, it’s about preference. Sandals are king in SoCal. But we do wear the occasional water shoe or tennis shoes. I say to each his own.
Now that we have the feet, legs and upper torso covered, let’s talk headwear. A hat is a must. I prefer visors with black underlining on the bill. It helps absorb the rays from the water and sun and deflects them away from your face. I’d recommend getting a face shield. It’s basically a face sock. It is made of lightweight material similar to your UPF shirts and helps protect your face and neck that your hat does not cover.
Now, there is one more essential item. I recommend having sunglasses in your outfitting arsenal–preferably polarized. Why do I specify polarized? It’s simple. One, you can see clearer than just regular sunglasses, it helps remove glare from the water which makes vision clearer. Also, you can see farther and more deeply. If you look down into the water, you can see deeper and see what kind of structure you might be on top of or perhaps you’ll find you’re in deep water seeing bait balls below you. Polarized lenses can be a little pricey when choosing the best options of sunglasses, but everything in fishing is an investment.
Not only is your Hobie a fishing investment platform, so is everything you buy for your excursions. To begin, start locally with a visit to Dana Point Jet Ski and Kayak. Check out their offerings. Next, I like to shop at trade shows. Given the pricing, trade shows are generally your best bet to score clothing and accessories.
Here are some brands and companies I shop–Columbia PFG, AFTCO, Pelagic Outfitters and SPYS Optic. They have killer designs that suit my wants and needs for quality and fair prices.
I hope my outfitting tutorial will help you year round. Look cool, stay cool, stay fishy, and remember to keep your lines tight my friends!
Tommy Ponce, Contributor