As a general rule, if the winds are forecast to be greater than 15 kts, I stay home. If they are around 10-15 kts, I pull up Google Maps and try to find areas of protected water. Winds 10 kts and less is fair game for me, and my paddling/pedaling opens up to whichever part of the lake or bay I want to go after that day. Once you have determined the wind speed and direction, and have made the decision to load up the kayak, you should consider how you are going to use the wind to your advantage.
Another rule that I use religiously is to paddle/pedal into the wind to start my day. By doing so, I make my return trip home easier, with the obvious benefits of the tailwind pushing me back to the launch. I also paddle into the wind because I am looking to use the wind to set up my drift over areas I want to fish. Once I see an area that looks promising, I paddle past it, get my gear ready, stow my paddle, and start to fish. By paddling into the wind past the target area, I can relax and let the wind do the work for me. When the wind pushes me too far, I pick up the paddle, make my way back into the headwind, and set up for the next drift.
Here are some additional accessories to help you conquer the wind:
♦ Sails: Several manufacturers offer kayak-specific sails. I use a wind paddle sail on my Jackson Kayak “Cuda 14”. Used in conjunction with my rudder, this setup offers a relaxing cruise back to the launch after a long day paddling into a headwind.
♦ Drift chute: A simple and clever idea. It’s like an underwater parachute that slows your drift and gives you more casts into your targeted area.
♦ Anchor: Nothing helps beat the frustration of the wind blowing you around better than an anchor. Be careful how you set it up in high winds; you can get into some dangerous situations. I tend to stay away from anchoring if the winds are higher than 10 kts.
I hope these simple tips make your trips more enjoyable. Several times I have come back from a rather windy fishing trip and wished I had used some of these tips. Always check the wind and use it to your advantage. Tight Lines!