|Fishing by the Weather|
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By William D. Anderson
Everything you read about how weather affects fishing seems to say something different. The one thing everyone seems to say in common is that fishing slows down after a cold front passes. While this may be true in some cases, it’s still no reason to avoid the water. All you need are a few tricks and you can catch fish in almost any type of weather.
Let’s start by talking about what weather really is. In simple terms it’s the constant changes we see in temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, precipitation and so on. All the experts say these things affect how fish behave. While they do have their effects, it’s foolish to plan your fishing trips by the weather. Sure, some conditions may be more ideal than others, but if we never tried to catch fish in adverse conditions, how could be improve our skills? Obviously, if the weather creates an unsafe situation, it would be better to wait for more favorable conditions. But remember, the conditionsa you experience above water are far different than what the fish experience below the surface.
Weather can alter a fish’s environment in several ways. Wind can stir up water and add oxygen. Precipitation can wash food into the water, or cloud the water with silt or other run-off materials. Clouds can make it darker so the fish will move to shallower water. And those are just a few of many examples. If weather affects fish and their environment, then why do I say ignore it? Ignore it because you still need to consider many of the same things no matter what the conditions or time of year.
There are two types of weather that you should not ignore—strong wind and lightning. Strong wind can create an unsafe situation if you are in a boat, and we know how lightning can ruin your day. I have seen fish spooked by lightning and thunder. Several years ago, I lived next to a pond that was full of bass. All day long I could see them cruising the shoreline and sitting in the weed pockets. At that first crack of lightning and thunder, they would all head for deep water at once. Sometimes they would return within a half hour of the storm passing, yet other times it would take hours for them to return.
The lesson here is that besides the increased possibility of being struck by lightning because you are holding a 7-foot graphite lightning rod in your hands, the fish aren’t going to be hitting. I’ve caught plenty of fish during downpours, before thunderstorms and after thunderstorms, but never during a thunderstorm. It’s not worth the risk.
Wind is a different thing. Most people will hit the shore where the wind is blowing in from, but I prefer the other side. The windblown shorelines have a few things going for them. First, warmer water is blown to that side. Second, waves stir up the bottom and cause the bait-fish to feed. Waves also add oxygen and cut the amount of light that can penetrate the surface. Besides that, any noise from the waves hitting the shore can help cover any noise you may make.
So what about cold fronts, east winds, north winds and so on? Forget about them. Think about what’s gong on below the surface and not what’s going on where you are. Fish experience weather in the form of temperature change, pressure change, oxygen change, current and light change, but they perceive it differently than we do. Fish are cold blooded and they’ll react to temperature more than any other weather factor.
Keep in mind that if the water is too hot, the fish can experience stress and die from it. Over the past summer I had the opportunity fish a power plant cooling lake that had surface temperature exceeding 100 degrees. There were plenty of dead fish, but I caught plenty of live, healthy ones.