The Wind FactorThe Wind Factor Don't let the wind ruin your fishing. Use it to your advantage instead. Here's how!
By Joe Cortesi
We all know that determining fish location is key to becoming a successful angler and there are some basic factors that influence fish location. It should be noted here that there are also some not so basic factors that sometimes prove to have a greater influence on positioning fish than the basics.
In general, the activity level of fish is likely the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to catching them. In the search for active fish, many factors can influence their location. In a previous article about the importance of depth in determining fish location and in doing so I also mentioned that there are other factors, wind or current is one of them.
Years ago I went fishing with a good friend on his favorite lake. This body of water was relatively small and extremely clear, but he caught numbers of good-sized bass on occasion at this particular lake. He is a live bait angler and we sat in 90-degree heat, with a stiff breeze in our face, on his favorite spot for almost four hours. When he apologized for that spot not producing, I mentioned to him that the breeze was blowing into the opposite shore and that we’d likely fare better there, we picked up stakes and almost immediately were into some nice fish. Our “good luck” continued throughout the rest of the outing.
Wind creates surface current, sometimes subtle and sometimes obvious, but that current is often the strongest factor in determining where active fish will be located. That fact should always be considered in bodies of water that are featureless such as the lake I mentioned or a retention pond. Not that it doesn’t have a lot of influence on larger bodies of water, it does, but that effect is diminished when different forms of structure and cover come into play.
In order to understand why wind and current are such important factors to consider, you need to understand another of the basics in locating active fish – forage. Whether active or inactive, adult fish will position themselves near a food source, or where the food source will pass. Wind and current will stack the ‘food’ that many types of their forage feed upon in areas that it flows into and out of. I’ll get into that shortly. So those are the areas our target fish will position themselves on or near when wind/current are present.
This doesn’t mean that when the wind kicks up you should immediately head to a windblown area. It takes time for that cycle to present itself, but rest assured if the wind has been blowing out of the south or west with consistency, its effect on fish location becomes a major factor. Depending on the average wind speed and the size of the lake you’re targeting, it could take a day or two for it to become a major influence.
What about the current flowing out of a windblown area? The volume of water that flows into an area, at some point or other, needs to flow back out. You don’t need to study fluid dynamics to come to this conclusion, you only need to know that it’s a fact. When and where that flow of water, or back current occurs can sometimes put you on the fish that others are overlooking . On pressured waters this can make a difference. Under moderate wind that sustains for a day or so on a large body of water, a large volume of water will build up on the windblown shore. When that volume becomes too great, the excess water will seek out it's low point and the flow will be the opposite of the wind direction for all but the surface layer of water.
If we then apply other factors into our search, we've narrowed it considerably. Take the depth factor. If you've determined the depth level the fish are using, say 15 feet, adding the wind/current factor will eliminate a number of potential locations and steer you to more probable locations.
Any discussion of wind has to include a comment or two about how it influences fish activity levels. Wind disturbs the water's surface and in doing so, cuts down on light penetration. Most anglers know that prime periods of activity are under low light conditions like dawn or dusk and below the surface wave action has a very similar effect. We already touched on the importance of the activity level and the presence of wind helps in determining it also.
Next time out, consider the wind when evaluating where the fish may be located. The wind is your friend and I don’t mean because it’s easier to cast with it at your back.
About the author
Joe Cortesi has a passion for fishing and has been targeting bass for over 40 years. As a teacher, he has introduced toddlers to seniors to this great sport and nothing gives him greater pleasure than to share the experience of a student's first catch.
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