Wind Can Be Your Friend by Gregg Munck
Have you ever scheduled a special fishing trip way in advance? Maybe for an upcoming vacation, or you hired a guide to fish unfamiliar water, which you have been looking forward to for years. Possibly, it is the next tournament on your favorite lake. Maybe you only have a couple of days left to film some footage for an outdoors television show. Sure enough, Mother Nature decides to pull some of her old tricks just as you are hooking the boat trailer up to the truck.
Like I have always said, “You have to be smarter than the fish.” The fish make adjustments when the wind starts to blow, and you must also make a few changes if you want to catch them. You can use wind to your advantage, just like the fish will.
When the wind and waves are rocking and rolling, safety should be your first consideration. Always check the local weather forecast. It is mandatory that you know not only the capabilities, but also the limitations of your boat and all the fishing equipment that comes with it.
Having control over your boat speed is the first aspect that you need to concentrate on. Once you have accomplished this, it will make the presentation of your lure easier and much more effective. One common method you can use to control the speed of your boat is drift socks. Drift socks are manufactured in at least three different sizes and many come with a drawstring so you’re able to make adjustments in the size of the sock to match the wind speed on a given day.
Using a bow mount trolling motor is a familiar technique. Just position the bow of your boat into the wind and adjust the speed setting on the trolling motor. The trolling motor speed must match the wind speed for that particular day and the lure presentation you have selected.
This is a very popular approach among walleye anglers that can be achieved by using a transom trolling motor or a smaller kicker motor while in reverse, and adjust the motor speed to the wind speed on a given day.
Anchoring the boat from the bow and stem is another option especially when you have located a good concentration of fish on your electronics. On many lakes, you can find refuge from the majority of the wind. Try sheltered bays, the slack side of rocky areas and points, and also channel or dock areas.
The most stable weather patterns generally occur when you experience wind flow from the south, west, and southwest, which can often influence a more positive bite. Winds out of the north, east, and northeast usually signifies certain changes in the weather pattern and often cause fish to be more neutral or negative in their feeding responses.
Wind And Adverse Weather Conditions:
When I am faced with nasty conditions like wind, rain, sleet, and the cold, the, best approach is to SLOW DOWN. Adverse weather has a way of messing with your head. Your natural reaction is to fish faster. Fight that urge, and do the opposite.
On windy days, with most lure presentations, it is beneficial to lower your rod tip just above the waters’ surface so the wind can’t catch the line. I am also a line watcher. I realize with only a couple of inches of line exposed, it makes the line difficult to see, so I overcome this problem by putting my finger on the line to feel a pick-up.
Positive Effects of the Wind:
If you stop and think about it, the wind has many benefits. One example is that the wind can increase or decrease the lakes’ water temperatures quite rapidly. For instance, in the spring, a southern flow can warm the water by a few degrees. This subtle rise in the temperature is all it takes to draw fish from their winter haunts where they begin to search for a meal.
From my experience, the larger, veteran fish are usually the first ones to go on the prowl. If this occurrence doesn’t excite you, then I don’t know what will! Wind often stirs up the shallows on a body of water and quickly changes the clarity. Fish along the edge where the discolored water meets the clear water. Fish hold in the murky zone and use it as an ambush point waiting to dart out and surprise unsuspecting prey that happen to be cruising by in the clear water.
Wind has a way of changing the water flow and creating current. While this is happening, fish are repositioning themselves in the slack water and near any current breaks. Fish reserve as much of their energy as possible. They will hold behind rocks, wood, on the backside of humps, on the slack side of bridge pilings, and any man-made or natural cover that tends to break the flow of water. Then they wait patiently for a meal to drift by.
Certainly the wind helps oxygenate the water you’re fishing. This is a key aspect especially if you are fishing in the summer months when the oxygen levels can be an Issue.
Sunlight penetrations are no longer a major concern on windy days. Wave action has a tendency to reflect the rays of the sun so the fish feel more secure than they would on calmer days.
Wind Tested Lures:
My lure selection for chasing smallmouth bass starts out with half-ounce spinner baits and buzz baits. I often tie on a spinner bait with a chartreuse skirt, complemented with chartreuse tandem willow blades. The buzz bait skirts I choose are either chartreuse or chartreuse and white. I also like to use buzz baits with clackers for added commotion.
For prop baits, I like Smithwicks four and a half inch devil horse and Heddons four and a half inch wounded spook. Both of these models have front and rear props, which can be adjusted to suit the mood of the smallies on any given day. For largemouth’s, I use the same’ buzzbait selection as mentioned for the smallmouth bass. When throwing spinner baits for largemouth, I use a three eights, half ounce, and three quarter ounce, depending on the depth I am targeting.
I like a size 3-nickel Colorado blade on the front and a size 4 or 5 gold willow for the rear blade. On buzz baits and spinner baits, I attach a 2/0 Daiichi bleeding bait trailer hook, unless my spinner bait is in heavy cover.
During these windy conditions, walleyes often feel more secure and pursue their prey into the shallows. Near ledges, boulders, and other rocky structure that is available.
When you are fishing lakes that have shad, perch, rainbow trout, and other forage present my lure choices are minnow baits, shad raps, and jerk baits with a slender profile. Manufacturers produce these baits in an array of colors with various lip designs to reach any depth you wish to target.
When crawfish are an available food source, make sure to bring along some crawfish pattern crank baits. Rebel produces these hard baits in a variety of different sizes and colors that you can choose from.
Another extremely effective presentation is vertical jigging. Don’t let the wind fool you because many anglers automatically switch to a heavier jig. If you can maintain good bottom contact and feel the jig, then there is no reason to use a heavier size.
Sometimes I like to add a piece of night crawler to my jig, which appeals to the walleyes keen sense of smell. This little detail will also make the jig drop at a slower fall rate, which can drive walleyes crazy. I prefer round jigs like Fuzz-E-Grubs made by Lindy. The round style jig won’t hang up as much when you stay as vertical as possible while fishing near brush, rocks, timber, and other heavy cover.
Whatever lures you may be fishing, if you are in stained or murky water, you can increase your odds by using bright or fluorescent colors like chartreuse, orange, hot yellow, etc. If you are having problems staying in contact with the jig, try using fire line, and attach a fluorocarbon leader. As you downsize the jigs, don’t forget to downsize your line as well.
No matter where you fish in the country, wind will always be there. I look forward to those gusty days because I have experienced some of my truly memorable catches using the wind as my friend.