Bringing the science of weather to the sport of fishing. I'll discuss how weather affects what the fish are doing and how to catch them!
By: Jim Root , 1:47 AM GMT on March 31, 2014
Recently my friend Toby asked me "What's the worst weather-related experience you ever had on the water?" I didn't even hesitate when I answered him. It was so scary I wrote about it. If you look at the data you'll see that we had gusts of nearly 50 mph reported that day, and I assure you they were higher in the middle of the lake. And if that didn't scare you, the huge and frequent lightning surely would have.
Anyhow, here it is, along with the weather chart from that day. I pray I never find myself on the water during weather like that ever again.
September 8th, 2012
I have fished big water my entire life.
I have fished big water in Upstate NY my entire life.
I have fished big water in Upstate NY my entire life in conditions that would make some experienced anglers cry. I know this for a fact, because I've seen it. Never had I ever been scared. Not at Erie, not at Ontario, not on Oneida, and certainly not on Cayuga Lake where I had lived in a house on the East Shore, water of that beautiful Finger Lake just 10 feet from my back door and my boat sat in a mooring 5 months out of the year. Never, that is, until I fished Cayuga on September 8th in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series event out of Union Springs NY.
I've spoken to several guys I know that I've become friends with that I met on that trail last year who also happened to fish that day and we all agreed on one basic point: no matter how many times we talk about that day, and no matter who we tell, nobody understands just how bad it was.
"We speared 3 waves, the second would've knocked me out of the boat if it weren't for the console."
"My 100 MPH rain suit from Bass Pro failed, and I got soaked underneath it".
"Waves were crashing over the side, it was hailing/raining, and we couldn't see more than 10 feet in front of us because it was completely grey".
"I saw a guy waving his net, he was broke down. I tried to help him, but I quickly realized I'd sink too. I told him "Buddy, I can't help you except to call the Coast Guard" and he understood and thanked me for slowing down."
How the hell are you suppose to fish in weather like that? The short answer is, you don't. You do the only thing you can: find cover. We found ours in the canal at the far north end that leads to Seneca Lake, as did some others, where we were sheltered from the wind. We ran frogs and other topwater bait that produced a number of big bites, including the biggest of the day at just over 5lbs. We paid the price for it when we left and had to return, having to run the gauntlet of waves between us and our destination. The fish don't like huge radical drops in temperature like we saw that day, nor do they react well to rising barometric pressure. Your best best in situations like this is to find fish early and close. Don't worry about finding big fish. A small limit would have gotten you paid that day.
Truth is we had no business being on the water that day. Nobody did. The lake was unfishable after 8:30 am, forcing people to dock or seek shelter in a secluded hideaway.
The fishing had been slow prior to that, too. I'm not sure if they sensed the change in weather, or if the recent cold snap had them in transition, but few people found "good" fish, and even fewer had limits. I'm not sure what the lake is doing now, as I have resisted any thought of return to that place since getting beaten up that day. With a similar forecast on the horizon for this weekend at Oneida I've wanted to save my nerve for that. Hopefully I won't look around and have to ask "Where's the Discovery Channel film crew?".
Good luck, and be safe.
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