The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 17 No. 30 - May 10, 2017

reel time

Against the wind

Reel time


Jim Wiers holds one of several large trout that
rewarded us after a long and daunting day.

When anglers encounter a perfect day on the water, they can be understandably elated. Why? Well, it just doesn't happen that often. More likely than not there will be some weather to endure. Rain, clouds and high or low temperatures can make fishing challenging, but of all the weather conditions, the wind can be the most daunting.

The wind makes for an uncomfortable ride in a boat, tests an angler's casting ability and has a way of just wearing on your constitution. On windy days you'll find most anglers huddled in an area that provides some protection. That might be the lee of an island, a canal or a pass where they can get some relief from the choppy water and poor visibility.

Sometimes the conditions will shut the fishing down and discourage fishermen from even staying on the water. While avoiding the windy days might be an option for some anglers, others will have a limited window of opportunity and have to make the best of a bad situation. In truth, the wind can actually provide prospects that most anglers might miss.

Experience has shown me that fishing in the lee on windy days might be the opposite strategy to employ. This might seem counter-intuitive, since fishing in areas exposed to the full force of the wind is definitely less uncomfortable. In reality, the wind and the choppy water it produces might actually concentrate baitfish and crustaceans providing predators with an opportunity to set up an ambush. The wind might mean it's hard to see the fish if you're sight fishing, but it also makes them less spooky and less visible to the prey they're after.

Recently I had the displeasure of fishing just such a day. The weather guessers had correctly predicted winds from 12-15 knots. While we might have chosen not to fish that day, it happened to be the only time my friends and I could find to get together. We started out with the intention to fly fish, but conditions (winds that actually gusted to 25 knots) soon made us glad we had stowed spin tackle under the gunnels.

Wind doesn't usually deter single-minded fly anglers, but even the most die-hard know when to say when. We worked the flats determinedly for close to an hour and only managed to catch one small trout before we finally made the switch to spinning tackle.

Casting jigs and top water plugs was a whole lot easier than attempting to fly fish, but the fish still didn't respond to our new strategy. Moving from spot to spot, we were determined to find some willing fish, but even though we saw a few we couldn't buy a bite. Fortunately that changed late in the day when we targeted some deep-water flats that were fully exposed to the now howling wind.

Using DOA jigs and the DOA Deadly Combo, we started to find some hungry trout. For some reason a later afternoon shift in the tide had put them on the feed. In five or six drifts, we caught and released some beautiful fish to 22 inches.

This reminded me that if you're determined enough and persist you can usually find some time of the day or tide when fish will feed. In this case it turned what could have been a frustrating and futile day into a success.

If you can hold out for better days to fish, you're a lucky angler. Most fishermen don't have that luxury. In any case if you're determined and use some counter-intuitive logic, you have a good chance of turning a windy day into a successful outing, even against the wind.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper