How Wind Affects FishBy Craig Ritchie - September 17, 2019
Wind triggers fish by moving water and creating current. Moving water means moving algae and plankton, so small fish waste no time in positioning themselves straight in the path of the current so they can effortlessly intercept this parade of food drifting by. The rolling waves offer a very real level of protection from overhead predators like birds, giving these small fish the chance to pig out without continually scanning the skies for danger.
It's pretty easy to understand that when small fish gather, big fish won't be far behind and that's precisely what happens when the wind blows. All these care-free, happy little bait fish feeding merrily in relatively open water present just too good an opportunity to pass up. So bass, walleye, pike, muskie and even lake trout also move into the wind where they feed like wild.
Where To FishWith the wind blowing across an entire lake, it helps to narrow your choice of locations down to a handful of obvious spots. The best are places where the wind blows full-force onto quality, hard structure like points, reefs or saddles, because chances are fish are likely near these areas to begin with. What the wind does is haul them off bottom and out of the cover, and put them up into relatively shallow, open water where you can catch them fairly easily.
Wind-induced waves pounding against a shoreline provide a number of bonus food items for predatory fish as well. Waves dislodge crayfish, frogs, newts and all sorts of other creatures that may ordinarily be more difficult to catch.
Wind also cuts light penetration while stirring up sediment, clouding the water which in many cases gives predatory fish a big feeding advantage. Big fish feel more secure invading shallow water when wave action and sediment afford them a little cover. They also benefit by being able to feed more effectively. Most predatory fish stalk prey from below. In turbid water, they can see the shadows of small fish silhouetted in the sunlight far more easily than the bait fish can see them approaching from below.
That said, too much turbidity is not a good thing. Stick with rocky shorelines when fishing in wind, which tend to discolor less than sandy shores do.
Other ConsiderationsWindy conditions are when fish tend to hunt actively, so use fast-moving lures and cover a lot of water. This is not the time for finesse presentations. Big spinnerbaits, jerk baits or lipless rattling crankbaits are all top choices when the wind blows.
Finally, it shouldn't need stating but no fish is worth putting yourself in an unsafe position. If it's too rough, wait and fish another day. Or just stay in the harbor itself - I've had some pretty good fishing on rough days without ever leaving the marina.
Instead of cursing the wind, take a more positive approach and consider how the wind will affect fish location and behavior. Quickly fish big, flashy lures over spots where the wind blows up on good solid structure and you may be amazed at how good fishing can be.