Windy Day Strategies
Dealing with wind is just part of bass fishing, but rather than complain about too much or too little wind, I’ve learned to make the best of any situation I find myself facing in a day on the water.
The reality is that wind can hurt you or help you, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. It think that wind sometimes gets the fish active, but if you have to fish slowly and methodically with a bottom bait, then it’s difficult, as the wind limits your ability to maintain the right pace.
In this case, you’ll want to use the wind to your advantage by using reaction baits. They might still eat something on the bottom, but in windy conditions, they’re willing to chase a little more, so you’re able to cover more water. I recognize this scenario as a great opportunity to go after some of those more aggressive fish, so I’ll take advantage of what the wind gives me.
One of my choices here would be the Yamamoto Heart Tail Swimbait. I’d rig this on a jig head and just cast it out and wind it back in – almost like a spinnerbait.
This is a simple, effective bait that allows me to cover water, whether it’s deep or shallow. If you’re fishing deep water, you cast it out, let it hit the bottom and then you start winding it. If it’s shallow and you’re fishing shoreline, then you’re casting to visible targets and covering bank.
What I do is I put the wind at my back and just go. Or, I’ll look for wind-blown points and fish that way. Just go to where it’s windy and start fishing.
With the wind oxygenating the shallows and pushing more baitfish up there, this creates an attractive scenario for predators. Bass are opportunists and when they have an advantage, they’ll use it for feeding strategy.
Wind, rain and overcast conditions all break up light penetration into the water, so I think the fish are more effective hunters in that kind of situation. So, when they’re able to feed while exerting the least amount of energy, they’re going to do it.
When you have a windy day, there’s more current, there’s more movement, there are more things going on. I think when you have all this the bass know they can feed better.
WORKING WITH WIND
A logical question regarding windy days is this: Should you change your location to fit your tactics, or change your tactics to fit your location? I say both.
If I’m in an area that I know is good, I’m going to fish it regardless of whether the wind blows or not. When I’m running a pattern, then I’m using that wind where I start running something I haven’t fished yet. I’m looking for a key feature like a main lake windblown point or maybe just a flat, main lake rock bank. Whatever it is, I just start running that pattern.
If there’s an area that I know, it doesn’t matter if the wind is blowing in on it or not. Even on the leeward side, it’s still going to be different than when it’s dead flat, glassy calm. There’s still going to be a ripple on the water, there’s still going to be current. Maybe it’s just inside of where the wind is hitting, so it’s creating an eddie.
As an angler, I think it’s important to have a high level of awareness regarding the day’s conditions. It’s not enough just to know the wind speed and direction – you need to also understand how it’s affecting the area you want to fish.
WHAT TO THROW IN THE BLOW
I try to take a strategic approach to fishing the wind. That means selecting baits that help me accomplish particular objectives. For illustrative purposes, I’ll describe three different windy day baits and how I’d fish each one.
1. Yamamoto Heart Tail Swimbait: As I mentioned earlier, this is a bait that I can fish fast like a spinnerbait and cover water. In shallow water, I’ll rig the Heart Tail on a ¼-ounce Boss swimbait jig head or I’ll use a 3/8-ounce head in deeper water. I prefer a lead or silver color jig head and a white or shad color Heart Tail.
Presentation: I’ll fish this like a spinnerbait, just covering bank. Or, if I feel the fish are deeper, I’ll use the wind to let that bait get down deeper. That’s where the heavier swimbait head is helpful. I’ll just let the bait fall to the bottom and then start winding so I can key on those fish that are holding closer to the bottom.
In most cases, I’m using the shallow presentation where I’m fishing it like a spinnerbait in two to five feet of water. It’s just a steady cast and retrieve.
Targets vary from lake to lake and whatever the predominant cover is, that’s what I’m going to fish. If I’m on a lake with docks, I’ll be skipping it around docks. If I’m on Lake Mead, I’m going to be fishing shoreline tules or buck brush. Whatever those fish live in, that’s where I’ll throw the Heart Tail.
I’ll basically fish to find what I can find. If it’s a practice situation, I’m also looking for concentrations of fish, as well. I’m looking for cover, but I’m also looking for areas that hold a lot of fish so I can come back to an exact stretch of bank where I might have had one, two, multiple bites. I know if I come back to this kind of spot, I’m probably going to get bit again.
2: Yamamoto Flappin Hog/Jig: I’m going to use a Boss swing head jig for maximum motion. I may only be fishing 10-15 feet of water, but I’ll use a ½- to ¾-ounce jig to keep that Flappin Hog on the bottom. I like natural colors like green pumpkin.
Presentation: I’m going to keep the wind at my back and fish this bait fast along the bottom. I’ll cast it out, let it sink and then crawl it across the bottom.
Again, I’ll fish the predominant cover, but for the most part, this is going to be a rock situation for me. I’m not going to be fishing fast around brush; this is all about bank fishing.
Unlike a flipping/casting jig, which I “fish” more by hopping it and swimming it, the swing head relies more on the inherent motion of that flexible design. As I’m crawling it along the bottom, the action is actually similar to a crankbait.
If I feel it crawling over something, a lot of times I’ll give it a quick little pop and then let it stall after that. It’s just a slight hesitation and then I start winding again.
It has that same look of a crankbait deflecting off a rock. It snaps and jumps off of it and then free falls for a second. That snap, hop and freefall looks like a crawdad darting to get away from something. It darts real hard real fast and then it stalls out and free falls to the bottom. That’s the action I’m going for.
3. Texas-Rigged Flappin Hog: Rigging this bait on a 4/0 Owner EWG hook with a ¼-ounce weight gives me an active package that attracts plenty of attention. Again, I’m keeping it natural with the green pumpkin color.
Presentation: To me, wind is a reaction deal. But if I’m not fishing reaction baits, I’m trying to get away from the wind.
To me, it seems like wind makes the fish bite shallower. No matter what lake I’m on or what the clarity is like, the fish will bite shallower in the wind than they will if it’s dead calm.
It’s a feeding thing – they slide up shallower to feed a little bit. In that case, I’m looking for visible cover where I can pitch or cast a bait. This is going to be laydowns, docks, maybe grass, reeds – whatever the cover is on the lake, that’s what I’ll fish. I’ll get out of the wind, slow down and pitch or cast to visible targets.
It’s important to give myself options for windy days and which technique I use has a lot to do with my day’s objective. If it’s a tournament situation and I know there are fish in an area, I’ll get out of the wind and go flip and pitch that area. And if that’s what I’m comfortable doing, then that’s all I’m going to do – just go look for that calm water to flip and pitch.
If I’m practicing for a tournament, I’m going to try it all. I’ll be running windy banks and then I’ll pull in to flip and pitch and do something different. I’m always searching for something different or I’m fishing an area that I feel is productive.
Ultimately, you have to do your best to work with whatever conditions a day give you, but know when it’s time to make a move. For example, if the wind is keeping me from being able to fish effectively, then I know I need to go hide from the wind.
It’s definitely true that wind can be your friend, but there are times when too much wind will work against you. If I make a cast and my line’s all over the place, that’s a pretty good clue that it’s time to change. Likewise, if I’m using all my effort to control the boat and I’m just casting my bait and reeling it back with very little technique, then my time will be more productive somewhere else.
You can’t change the weather, but you can equip yourself with multiple options for catching fish.