Finding fishing success in windy weather
It’s springtime on the upper Texas coast, and if there’s one thing that folks can count on, it’s the wind. Breezes will consistently gust from inconsistent directions at a variety of speeds. This washing-machine effect will produce fluctuating conditions and tide levels, requiring anglers to adapt to stay on the fish.
Location, strategies and bait presentations all play a major role when it comes to achieving success under the dynamic conditions of spring. Anglers who compose the right recipe with these three variables can still enjoy bent rods and plentiful catches.
Places that offer protection from the wind are going to be the best options. They include coves, bayous, creeks, back lakes, marshes and protected stretches of shorelines. That’s not to say that open-water areas won’t be holding fish. But targeting them might be out of the question more often than not. During rare periods of light breezes, mid-bay reefs, well heads and the jetties will become prime hotspots.
In back lakes, marshes, bayous and creeks, anglers can expect to find speckled trout, redfish, flounder, black drum, sand trout and sheepshead. Coves and the mouths leading into these areas will offer the most fish during an outgoing tide. On incoming tides, anglers should fish farther back into and inside these protected regions of water.
When it comes to strategies, anglers will have two options when they’re fishing in shallow water. They can choose to wade fish, or stay in the boat and drift. Wade fishing is an excellent choice when a specific structure or point is holding fish.
Rather than worrying about moving over a stretch of water too quickly in a drifting boat, wade fishermen can simply plant their feet to thoroughly and methodically fish an area. A Power Pole, trolling motor, or anchor can help anglers fishing from a boat maintain their location to work their baits in a particular spot. Hull slap created by the surface chop against their vessels might spook fish lurking nearby, however.
Drift fishing an area is the best option when the fish seem to be spread out and covering plenty of water is necessary. The best thing to do is position the boat sideways, or perpendicular to the wind, and allow the breeze to move the vessel across a large stretch of water. Using a drift sock will help slow the rate at which your boat is being pushed along the water’s surface, and a trolling motor will allow you to make minor adjustments in the direction you’re drifting.
Combining both wade fishing and drift fishing techniques is a great way to really home in on where fish are staging in an area that has water depths that can be waded in and drifted over. Start out by making long drifts until you begin getting bites and catching fish. Make note of where the strikes take place and keep drifting through the area until the action ceases. Then, idle the boat back upwind of the area where the fish were feeding. Anchor the boat, and stealthily wade up to the region where they’re holding and work it over thoroughly. You just might, with your feet, find a reef or a change in bottom composition that’s holding the fish in that particular spot.
Bait presentations that are noticeable in murky, roughed up waters hold the key to success during the breezy conditions of spring. The combination of scent and noise is the perfect formula for producing hookups. That’s why a popping cork rig paired with a live shrimp has stood the test of time, as far as presentations that catch a bunch of fish are concerned.
Artificial offerings will coax strikes from an abundance of fish as well, and the best ones are those that emit vibrations and noise. For example, Rat-L-Traps are dirty water candy for redfish because they produce plenty of racket when they are retrieved through the water column. Bright colored traps with silver and gold-plated sides are an excellent choice this spring, especially when fishing over stretches of shell and rip rap.
Topwater baits, like the Rapala Skitterwalk and the Bill Lewis StutterStep 4.0, are also good noisy options when the action is taking place on the water’s surface. These plugs have produced bone-crushing strikes from specks and reds for me in some of the dirtiest water I’ve ever fished during the spring. I’m not sure the fish could see them very well, but I know for a fact that they could sense the vibrations they were emitting as they danced at the top of the water column.
Soft plastic swim baits with paddle tails that vibrate are great choices, too, and the sparkle of a traditional silver or gold spoon is also hard to beat. Adding scent to any of the aforementioned lure options will only increase your odds of experiencing more hookups.
Don’t let the gusts of spring prevent you from spending time on the water. The right combination of locations, strategies and bait presentations will result in phenomenal catches in even the strongest of winds. Bring on the breezes, choppy water and drag-peeling action.