Wind can easily ruin a fishing trip but, if you know how to work it, it can make for an exciting trip with plenty of rewards.
Most of what I will be talking about applies to the coast but you can probably take some of it inland. First I’ll talk a little bit about each direction of wind and what they can mean. Then I’ll go into some actual tips for fishing in them.
Down here on the coast there is a trio of winds that most seasoned anglers will consider canceling or postponing a trip because of: Southwest and it’s friends South/Southwest and West. Strong, prevailing winds from these directions tend to empty the bays and marshes.
There are two main characteristics for East wind, raising tide levels and bringing clear, fresh water into the bays and marshes. This can limit bay fishing however, the higher water levels getting pushed back into the marshes and inner bays/lakes creates prime real estate for redfish to gather in.
If you have a strong East/Southeast, and shingles aren’t being ripped from the nearest boat shed, do not discount the windward side of a bay. The leeward seem like the better bet, and look a little safer, but the chops and currents piling against exposed shorelines push baitfish and shrimp. Also, the white caps provide shelter for schools of reds and trout.
Northerly winds and their associated low tide levels on the other hand adversely affect bay fishing. Creating leeward shorelines along the surf, they flatten out the water to create excellent fishing conditions. With mild north winds, the north shorelines of Trinity and East Bays become hot spots for wade fishing. When a cold front hits and the wind is gusting from the north or northwest, fish will escape the low water flats and shorelines and head for deeper channels and holes.
Finally we have South. You have to be careful with southerly winds. They can be good for fishing but you have to keep an eye on which way they are leaning. Strong South winds tend to lean more towards the west, as a result they take on some of the characteristics of the dreaded Southwest wind.
Fishing in the wind is as much a mental game as a physical. If you start the day thinking “It’s too windy, I’m probably not going to get many decent bites.” you are setting yourself up for failure. As with most things in life, a negative mindset quickly turns self-fulfilling. Try to stay as positive as possible.
A common mistake anglers that aren’t use to windy fishing often make is to skip over dirty, muddy water in search of “good water”. Bait fish become slightly bolder in the stirred up water, feeling safer, which causes the predator fish to hang out in the same muddied water. A common fallacy for those that do choose to explore wind stirred water is to put away all their artificial baits in favor of live bait. Don’t get me wrong, live bait will work great in this type of water. The fallacy comes in thinking that artificial won’t. One of the keys is making sure you choose the right color. Darks and brights, with a lot of sparkle to catch the little sun that manages to get through, usually work the best. In the murky water you want to pick something that will create a good deal of vibration. Regardless of live or artificial bait, in the choppy water you really can’t make too much noise. Adding a loud popping cork is a good plan. It can also be helpful to add an inline rattle about 6 to 8 inches above the bait.
Casting in windy conditions can be significantly different from casting on a calm day. As often as you can, try to position yourself to use the wind to your advantage. Casting downwind you should use a high lob, allowing the bait to arc upwards so the wind can catch it and carry it forward. If you find that you are needing to cast into the wind try a low, aggressive, sidearm throw. You can increase your distance into the wind by using a heavy lure such as a compact spoon.
Steady wind can be a great friend to the fisherman that prefers to keep their feet dry on the boat. Turning the broadside of the boat into the wind will allow you to cover more territory than you normally might. Keep this in mind though, the pace can quickly exceed what you prefer so keep your eye on it. A great way to maintain a specific speed is to use a drift sock. Tie it amidships to maintain the broadside profile
I personally prefer to wade. Wading will allow you to more accurately control the speed at which you move. Always make sure to shuffle. The risk of a stingray barb is ever present when wading and even more so in murky water where there is no chance of seeing the bottom. Better safe than sorry. Not that the noise you make matters too much in choppy water but, wading is also the stealthiest option.
Detecting a nibbling fish or catching up to one that is oncoming in order to set the hook can be hard in any weather. It’s even harder when the wind creates a “belly” in your line. This is when the wind causes too much slack in your line. The best way to avoid this is to keep your rod tip low during the retrieve. It takes some getting used to but it will allow you to detect strikes more distinctly and be able to set the hook immediately rather than having to ‘reel down’ to take out the slack.
Have fun out there and remember, make every trip a guided trip with MyFinFinder.