How Windy Is Too Windy For Kayak Fishing? (Video)

Survey says some anglers are putting themselves at risk

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Spring is a season of lions and lambs, and your chance to fish can depend on how hard the wind is blowing. But how windy is too windy? As Daren Wendell from Wendell Fishing reminds us, “no fish is worth your life.” From anemometers and apps to real world observations, he explains how to measure wind speed for safer paddling. And just for fun, Wendell polled viewers on their personal cut-off point for windy fishing. You won’t believe the results.

How Windy Is Too Windy for Kayak Fishing?

Wendell describes making this video because “this sport is blowing up. There are kayak fishermen coming online every single day” who may not have the expertise to make safe paddling decisions. “Seriously,” he says, “if you don’t know what you’re doing out in the water it could cost you.”

man explains the Beaufort Scale of wind speed
Anemometers are great, but what if you run out of batteries? That’s where observational data comes in, based on the Beaufort wind force scale. | Image: Wendell Fishing/YouTube

When it comes to measuring wind, a handheld anemometer is great to have in your back pocket, and websites like work well too. But what if you run out of batteries? That’s where observational data comes in, based on the Beaufort wind force scale.

Developed by an admiral in the U.K. Royal Navy, the Beaufort scale has twelve levels ranging from complete calm to hurricane-force winds. Each level has a series of telltale signs, and Wendell reviews what your surroundings will show in levels 1 through 6.

So, what wind speeds are safe? According to experts, safe fishing limits are 15–20 mph for smaller water bodies and 10–15 mph for larger ones. This corresponds to a Beaufort level of 3 or 4. But as Wendell points out, your mileage may vary based on your kayak, the type of propulsion and your level of expertise. Some other factors to consider are air and water temperature, time of day and tides if you’re fishing in saltwater. Above all, says Wendell, “know your abilities and know your limits.”

What About That Survey?

The wildest part of the video is Wendell’s survey results. He asked viewers to select which of four speeds is too windy for kayak fishing. Reassuringly, over half of respondents refuse to fish in winds of 10–15 mph. Yet 26 percent would fish in winds up to 16–20 mph, while a further 16 percent say, “hell or high water…I’m going fishing!”

We can only hope that some of the answers are tongue-in-cheek, like many Internet polls. Or, as Wendell suggests, “16 percent of you are just nuts.”


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  1. In open water, I don’t like any wind over 15 mph. It depends on the wave period whether this is comfortable or not. But I often fish on days with winds up to 25 mph if I am mostly in protected waters and mostly fishing leeward shorelines. I recently found out that 30 mph is too much (for me) in a tournament. Any time I tried to move across an open spot it got dicey. When the wind is up I use Google Earth to select spots that will be protected.

  2. Ah, the expert advice…always appreciated, often incomplete…as it is here. As critical as the force of the wind is, the depth and subsurface nature of the water over which it blows should be considered as well. Not having or knowing how to read nautical charts or being unfamiliar with underwater formations can make even a mild blow life-threatening. Is it blowing over a shoal, a sandbar area or other surface disturbance that can affect the turbulence of the water/wave action. Those obstructions, coupled with tidal currents can make for even angrier seas. Kayak anglers need to pay a little more attention to the wisdom of mariners who actually sailed the seas in more suited watercraft.

  3. It’s not the wind it’s the waves. Here in Northern Nevada we have great fishing lake ,but when the winds come out of the North they run the length of the lake and can make 3-5 ft wave with only 5 mph wind. Westerly or Easterly which has mountain on either side and the narrow way across the lake you can have much higher winds and only get ripples .


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