When It’s Challenging
Rough Runs: When the big fan turns the lake into a washing machine, you have two choices: Pick an area and spend the day there, or suffer a spine-jarring thrill ride on every move. Discomfort aside, rough water also threatens equipment damage and limits your productivity by greatly reducing your travel speed.
Habitat Disruption: Big winds can break up floating vegetation like hyacinth mats and relocate the fish hiding below. For weed mats tucked against windward banks, a heavy blow will compact the vegetation and make it tough to fish.
Position Challenging: Often it’s a particular casting angle or vertical drop that makes the fish bite, but strong winds can push you off your spot. Trolling motors with GPS functionality are a must, but you’d better have a full battery charge, or the rough water will leave you drained and unable to stay on target.
When It’s Helpful
Getting back to the “friend” thing, windy days definitely have their upsides. For one thing, wind positions baitfish in predictable areas and narrows your search for the bass that won’t miss the easy feeding opportunities.
Also, wind stirs the shallow water and decreases visibility. Bass are inherently opportunistic, so they know their chances of nabbing meals in turbid water are much higher than in clear water. Taking all this into consideration, a windy day is widely considered a great time to throw moving baits (aka “reaction” baits) like spinnerbaits, bladed jigs and crankbaits.
What You Can Do
In the offshore areas, windy days have more affect on fishermen than fish, but if you can’t reach the fish, you’re discomfort is pointless. Upsizing you weights is the most common adjustment, as this ensures an efficient descent through rough water so you bait’s not blown off target. Maybe you’re catching them in the morning on a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce Mustad 1X Elite Football Jig, but when the afternoon wind picks up, bumping up to a 1/2-ounce to maintain bottom contact.
Similarly, dropshotting a finesse worm on a Mustad Titan-X Wacky Neko hook is a deadly way to temp deep holding fish, or those suspended in the water column. Just make sure you have a sinker heavy enough to punch through the wind current for that vertical presentation.
Closer to shore, expect fish to move shallower to take advantage of feeding opportunities in the stirred water. Bolder, more contrasting colors and/or larger bait profiles can be effective, while crankbaits with rattles give the fish an audible reference. Consider that the strike zone shrinks in scenarios of lower visibility, so fish tend to bite at awkward angles as they snap at shadows and vague images. To maximize your hook-up success, make sure your baits are fitted with Mustad KVD Triple Grip Trebles.
For flipping or punching presentations, you’ll want to increase your weight size to penetrate the condensed cover. In super thick hyacinth mats, 1 1/2- to 2-ounce weights may be the ticket, but you might want to go the opposite direction on bait size. Instead of a full size creature bait on a 5/0 or 6/0 Mustad Grip Pin Max Flipping Hook, drop back to a 4/0 hook with a more compact bait.
Remember, you can’t change the weather, but you can change your tactics. Make the necessary adjustments and take it easy on the run back to the ramp.