How Much Wind Is Too Much For Kayak Fishing?

Kayak Fishing Guide - Informative tips, articles and product reviews for the kayak angler.

Kayak Fishing is a terrific outdoor activity. The wind is a huge factor for those engaging in this sport, and too much wind is dangerous. One of the first things people need to keep watch of is how much wind there will be on any given day they are out on the water. 

Any wind below ten miles per hour is ideal for kayak fishing. Anything higher than ten miles per hour can be challenging, and anything above fourteen or fifteen miles per hour can become dangerous very quickly.

Kayak fishing, despite it being a peaceful pastime most of the time, can be an intense activity under certain conditions. To learn all you need to know about wind and kayak fishing, keep reading. It is helpful for participants of the sport to be able to identify the risk factors in advance and plan ahead. 

How Can Wind Be Dangerous for Kayak Fishing?

As with any other force in nature, wind can be unpredictable and potentially catastrophic. The first and foremost danger to kayakers is when the wind makes it difficult to paddle back to shore—paddling your kayak against a force such as the wind is going to leave you tired. And the wind will then take you wherever it wants!

So, be safe, listen to your weather station before you go out on the water, and stick to any days where the wind is below ten mph, especially if you are just starting out.

Like any other sport, safety comes first with kayak fishing, and knowing how to stay safe is just as important as knowing how to have a good time.

What Can I Do To Prepare? 

In order to properly plan for your day out on the water, it is essential to consider the wind factor, but there are also many other variables to consider when planning. 

First of all, having a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) handy when you go out on the water is crucial. Not only is it the most important thing you’ll be wearing that day, but it’s generally legally required in your state. 

Another vital thing that many miss is packing enough drinking water. Funny enough, being out on the water on a clear day will dehydrate you, and that’s without considering all the strenuous activity you’ll be performing in the process.

Bringing along plenty of food and liquids with you to replenish yourself throughout the day will ensure you don’t have any dehydration effects while out on the water! 

Know how to re-enter your kayak if the wind tips you over or you unexpectedly fall out of your kayak. Believe it or not, there is a proper procedure to re-entering your kayak! 

This is how you properly get your kayak back on track after it is tipped:

  • Return your kayak to the upright position
  • Gather any gear that’s fallen out and toss it back into the kayak, if there’s anything too heavy or you feel will eat up too much of your energy recovering, let it go
  • Center your bellybutton with the kayak and hold both sides of the kayak
  • Propel yourself by kicking your legs until you’ve gained enough leverage and momentum to get back in the kayak
  • Very carefully ease your body down until you’re sitting again

Of course, if you’re even remotely close enough to shore that you can grab your things and start over on land, that’s the easiest route to take. And, in the event that it’s become windy, it’s time to cut the trip a little short. 

What If Wind Picks Up While I’m On The Water?

The best way to handle this situation is to listen to the weather forecast. Avoid being on the water when the weather forecasts the wind will be picking up. However, sometimes nature is unpredictable, and the wind will suddenly pick up! 

Keeping calm, taking your time, and doing your best to paddle with the wind instead of against it helps. Generally, you’ll see some upcoming weather signs. If you see things like the skies getting darker, you will know what’s coming, and that it may be time to start heading to shore. 

However, being out on the water and paddling with the wind and waves is difficult for even experienced kayakers; so again, planning and prevention will be your friend if you are an inexperienced kayaker.

Other Dangers That Can Worsen with Wind

Keeping your energy up is vital when kayak fishing. Having fruit or beef jerky along with you, energy drinks, or even sunflower seeds, will ensure you aren’t put in a dangerous situation on the water. 

This is especially important if you have to paddle in windy conditions. Keeping snacks on hand to maintain your energy is necessary. Believe me, paddling a kayak against a strong wind when you’re tired and hungry is not any fun!

Staying hydrated is another habit that’s a must for kayak fishing. Bring along as much water as you think you’ll need, is the best way to go. Being outside in the sun is just a giant energy drain, and getting dehydrated can happen very quickly. 

Sunscreen is just as important as the water; being out in the heat with the sunlight reflecting off the surface of the water could really have a significant impact on you after a full day of fishing. Sunburn can lead to exhaustion, which will make fighting wind almost impossible.

It’s also something that sounds silly on paper, but look out for other boaters. If you become too distracted when fighting or landing a fish, or not paying attention to your surroundings, you run the risk of an incident with another boater. So as with any other sport or activity, stay alert, and stay safe.

  • There’s an eye-opening near-miss video of a boating incident in my article: Do I Need a Flag on my Kayak? Everyone should have a PFD and a lighted flag on their kayak! Check it out!

What To Look For In a Fishing Kayak

When it comes to finally purchasing a kayak, you may become overwhelmed with the number of variables you hadn’t considered in a kayak before. 

The different attributes in a kayak can range from the size and shape of the cockpit, or the seat inside the raft, to the material that the boat is made of. 

Whether it is a cheaper plastic material, or a high grade kind of material, they all tell you something about the purpose of the kayak and what the makers intended it for. Here, we’ll of course be focused on kayaks that are best for fishing.


The shape of the kayak can greatly affect the performance, for better or worse. When looking at the shape of the kayak, pay attention to it’s length. A longer kayak is built to pierce through the rougher water and glide more easily forward. 

A longer kayak will track better and often times handle the wind much more efficiently than a shorter kayak.

A shorter kayak, however, is built to be maneuverable and be able to turn on a dime. For a beginner, I would personally recommend something in between but prioritize the maneuverability.

The shorter kayak is more likely to be easily pushed around by the wind than the longer kayak,

Sit-on-Top vs. Sit-Inside Kayaks

Kayaks can generally be made from plastic, or what is known as composite materials. Two popular setups are the sit-on-top and the sit-inside kayaks. The SOT will have you sitting higher above the water line and prone to catching the wind.

While the sit-inside kayak has you down nearer the waterline, and effectively not catching as much wind. There are trade-offs with each type of kayak, mostly being storage, comfort, and adjustability, to name a few considerations.

Final Thoughts

There is such a thing as too much wind when it comes to kayaking. A little wind can give you a gentle push while making rowing a little easier. However, there’s a fine line between good wind and bad wind in kayak fishing. 

When the line is crossed, wind can go from a nuisance to dangerous very quickly. Being prepared and paying attention to the weather is your best bet for combating wind while kayak fishing.

Have fun and be safe out there!

Mike Rodman

Mike enjoys fishing all year round, from fly fishing small streams in Wyoming's higher mountains to kayak fishing the lower altitude lakes and reservoirs. Mike also has a passion for ice fishing. When he has spare time, he'll be found at his rod bench building custom fishing rods.

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