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Wind Effect on Fishing

This is part 2 of a series of articles on the theories of the different factors which produce good and bad fishing conditions. The theories aren't necessarily mine, although I've attempted to provide a thoughtful summary of information I have researched, with some modification based on personal experience.

I'm not entirely convinced that you should solely base your decision on whether to go fishing, on the measurement of the positive or negative factors based on theory. Although a number of the positive factors may indicate that the fishing will be good at your regular spot, I think to a large degree that the negative factors mean that you have to find and catch the fish in a different fashion than you would normally.

Wind Effect on Fishing

Wind is a condition for fishing that can make many anglers uncomfortable. A strong wind combined with rain, is sure to get you soaking wet. Trying to maneuver a boat in the wind is difficult, and in the case of engine failure, wind can get you in serious trouble in a hurry. High winds create high waves, which can swamp your boat. It's too windy to fish when you can't realistically be safe on the water. Otherwise, you need to understand what fish are likely to do in the wind, adjust your fishing patterns accordingly, and understand when it's time to get off the water.

The wind can help energize a quiet fishery, especially if it is preceeded by calm, warm weather. Undisturbed water can suffer from a lack of oxygen. Wind starting to beat on shorelines and structure, can inject oxygen into the water. In particular, structure like timber and trees in the water can really cause a disurbance of the waves, bringing up oxygen levels, baitfish, and of course predators. Also, the wind blowing consistently against one shore will push plankton and feed towards that shore, in addition to raising the oxygen level in that area.

Wind and wave also break up a mirror surface, making fish less spooky from boat movement, and wading. However, waves lapping on an aluminum boat can be quite noisy, and you need to think of this when positioning your boat around fish. The wind can also create a mud line off a muddy bank, which can attract some fish species, which will lie in the edge of the mud line to ambush baitfish.

Strong directional wind can create current along shorelines, but it needs to be consistent and long-lasting to generate a current. As well, the wind needs to hit the shore at an angle to generate the current. Also, it can be easy to over-estimate how fast a current will be, a 30 mph wind might generate a .5 mph current, and a slower wind will generate a dramatically slower current. Fish will almost always point their head into the current, and you need to cast INTO the wind in order to bring your lure retrieve into the face of the fish. Generally, fish are reluctant to chase a lure which has come from behind it. Keep an eye on jutting points and cuts into the bank, because the current going over low water can be an area of high activity. As well, shallow humps and other disturbances can cause current patterns as the water is pushed around it.

Strong consistent directional wind which has blown for a long period will likely push the warmer surface water downwind, which will be replaced from upwind by colder deeper water. Consider how this temperature change might change the depth of species you were fishing recently.

Look for windy shores, if there appears to be a current running, try to fish upwind if you can. Between boat handling into the wind and casting upwind, this is easier said than done. You need to keep in touch with your lure on the retrieve, which suggests a fast retreive on a heavier lure. Wind will make baitfish like Shad more active, select lures which immitate them.

Certainly don't lose focus on the fact that fishing in the wind in inherently more dangerous than in calm weather. There will likely fewer fishermen around to help you should you get in trouble, and the effect of the wind can be to swamp your boat or otherwise push it into trouble. Make sure your motor is running well, the electrics are charged, and that your emergency equipment and anchor are sufficient for the conditions.

So take advantage of those windy days. You might find that your favorite fishing spots are less crowded, and you may also find that other fishermen are not fishing the same windy spots that you are, creating a lot of room, and lot of active fish to keep for yourself.

By David Girdwood
Manager, Thefishingnut

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