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Howling against the wind

Blog by: Bill Prater , CO 4/21/2022
Okay, the wind hasn't stopped, and likely won't any time soon. But itís getting warmer out on the water, and an encouraging number of fish have moved shallow. Some are even biting. 

My big boat is sitting where I parked it late last fall, and the big lakes around here are pretty much empty of boaters. But nothing but common sense says you canít get out in smaller waters, in your belly boat or kayak. Fishing from the bank is an obvious alternative. But that darned wind limits the number of spots where a guy or gal can cast from shore, and this year it just won't blow long from the same direction. 

So just get out in the water any way you can. For me, thatís fishing smaller waters in the smallest of watercraft. If you want to suggest alternatives, like how to succeed from the shore, or ski boats, jet skis, kayaks or paddleboards, please share with the rest of us. 

We all have theories on how to fish whenever weather, spouse and wisdom all scream at us to stay home and do chores. Here are a few of mine; probably not applicable in other parts of the planet, but arguably workable sometimes along the Colorado Front Range. 


1. Pick a place with a bit of a wind break (good luck with that one), get on the water early, and do your best to get off around noon. This is decent advice at any time on wind-swept western waters. But this season it seems afternoon winds are coming even earlier in the day. 

2. Pay attention, at least this once, to the common-sense rules we know we should follow: (I learned the hard way at an early age to study the far shore to identify a safe emergency place to exit the water. Paths around a pond can be God-sent) And wear your life vest. Also, even introverts should fish with a buddy.

(Quick aside:) About a week ago a friend of mine (okay, it was Wayne, a retired Coast Guarder who should have known to stay home that day) was belly boating in southern Wyoming. He was with a friend who suffered a broken fin at the perfect time and place - right in the middle of that Wyoming lake. Wayne swears it took at least an hour and a quarter for him to haul the two of them to shore, and that time estimate sounds specific enough to be believable. (Wouldnít you have loved watching that scene from shore?) Contrary to this example, and to what spouses and big boaters believe, float tubes are usually remarkably stable, even as they bob you up and down. But even I will concede they move kind of slowly and it can be rough heading east in a westbound gale. On the other hand, you tend to fish an area thoroughly.

3. Pay close attention to the many things youíve learned about casting under windy conditions, beyond the obvious preference for casting with the wind. Bait casters rely on heavy lines and heave great big old heavy, compact lures. Spinning gear folk, particular ones who stick to ultralight when conditions scream heavy, usually learn the hard way how to cope: And darned if I know what fly casters do, even when it's calm. 

4. All of us just fish with the wind when we can. And when you canít, remember how wind works: keep your cast low and level to the water, down where the wind sometimes doesnít howl quite so fiercely. If you get out and cast into the wind often enough, you somehow  unconsciously begin to do things that minimize wind knots and slack lines. Do switch to heavier gear if you must. And make sure not to wind your line too loosely on the spool. Thatís probably my most useful advice for spin fishermen, particularly ultralight fanatics:  when it comes to braid, under any conditions, keep your line TIGHT on the reel, starting with the way you add it to your spool. And if you have a reel spooled with newer braid, use that one and save other gear for a calmer day. Good old braid stays strong and supple; the stuff seems to last forever. But Iím pretty sure itís true what they say about that slick coating on braid eventually wearing off, leading you toward wind knots. 

Thatís enough advice; truth to tell, even crafty old timers are annoyed when the wind picks up to a steady 20 or 25 mph. Doesnít mean you shouldnít be fishing.
Blog content © Bill Prater
Blog Comments
Anteroman, 4/21/2022 1:14:51 PM
Some excellent observations in this blog, thank you for taking the time to share with us. Bill "Anteroman"
nparker, 4/22/2022 7:34:53 AM
Good advice Bill. However, casting from shore into the wind can produce good results if you can stand it. Not recommended for Wyoming however.
Barnacles, 4/22/2022 8:57:06 AM
Great stuff Mr. Prater. Had some of my best days jumping around the rocks after the wind blew all the boats off the lake. Big wind can stir up food and get fish in a frenzy. Funny thing, every bit of your advice also applies perfectly to fishing in the surf or jetties in the Gulf. 70 MPH in the forecast today. I still reserve the right to stay home and complain.