How To Use Wind To Improve Your Kayak Fishing Results
Posted on April 04 2018
A surprising number of the kayak fisherman that I know view the wind as their adversary and something to be shunned or despised. If you're one of these or you simply want to improve how you deal with windy days, stick with me. I have had some of the best kayak fishing days of my life on very windy days. With the right kayak, anchor system, lure selection, clothing, and most importantly the right mindset, the wind will pay you big kayak fishing dividends. That being said; for your own safety, know your personal limitations and that of your kayak and equipment.
Using wind to WIN kayak bass tournaments
October of 2016 I fished the KBS (Kayak Bass Series Tournament) national championship tournament on Lake Guntersville in Alabama. Having never seen the lake before, I struggled to find fish on the first two days of pre-fishing. I finally found an area with fish the afternoon before the event began. The forecast for the following day was for 20-30 mph Northwest wind. While my friends were searching for spots that would offer them shelter, I was searching for areas that would have as much wind as I could endure and would set up with with predictable current. I finished in first place on day one by a significant margin.
On May 20th, 2017 I fished a KBS (Kayak Bass Series Tournament) event on Sakatah Lake in southern Minnesota. The wind forecast was 20-30 mph gusting to 35 mph and a high temp in the low 40's. I remember telling a friend the night before, "this is perfect tournament weather"! Why, he asked, in shock and disbelief. I said because I've beaten 90% of the field before they ever leave the dock. Sure enough, by 11:00 a.m. on game day half the field had given up. By the end of the day I was in first place. There was just one other competitor close at my heels and he was the only other fisherman to stubbornly target fish in the wind. Hopefully these two examples will compel you to keep reading.
As a representative for the Hobie Fishing Team I would like to tell you that a Hobie kayak with Mirage drive is the most important thing to have. Although that is absolutely indispensable, in all honesty, I'd have to rate that a very close second. Mindset takes the top spot. Fishing in the wind is very challenging and especially so in a kayak. If you don't have the right frame of mind these challenges will wear you down long before you finish your day on the water. To some degree each kayak fisherman has to slay this dragon for himself but I want to give you a head start if I can. Here are the main mental adjustments that I make when the wind forecast turns REALLY ugly.
Next time you check the weather for tomorrow's fishing adventure and it calls for wind tell yourself "I will fish in the wind and I will learn to relax". Here's a priceless tip that I strongly recommend. If you've watched any of my videos or seen my selfie fish pics you probably noticed how often I'm wearing a hooded sweatshirt. That's no coincidence. We are hard wired to seek shelter when the wind is blowing... and for good reason. Even if you don't realize it, when you hear that wind noise throbbing in your ears like an open car window your built-in subconscious is screaming at you to find a calm spot and lay low. If you pull that hood up over your ears and cancel the majority of that sound you will be amazed at how this simple trick will enable your stress level to plummet.
Windy fish are hungry fish!
I let that phrase circulate thru my brain like a radio jingle that can't escape. It has become my windy day fishing mantra. Why? Because it's true. For many reasons they are the easiest fish to catch in the entire lake. The wind is blowing nutrients to the windy shore which supercharges the food chain by drawing in the baitfish. The wave action causes chaos which makes the bait easier to catch. The wind oxygenates the water making the fish more active. If that's not enough, the crashing waves mask your presence by reducing the fish's ability to hear you or see you.
Even before I had a Hobie I was advocating fishing in the wind but it was so much more difficult. As you can imagine I had to rely almost exclusively on paddling into position and anchoring. In these conditions you can't let go of your paddle for more than a few seconds. With the new Mirage Drive featuring reverse I can spend a lot more time fishing on the move and covering much more water without putting down my fishing pole. I can cover water efficiently until I find fish and pattern them.
That brings me to anchor systems.
It is absolutely crucial to have an anchor system that's reliable, simple, and efficient. Fishing in wind is chaotic. If your system is not reliable, simple, and efficient, frustration will quickly set in and you will not use your anchor on windy days when you need it most. If you can effectively anchor on a potential spot then you can tame the majority of the chaos. Now you will be able to relax and fish the spot thoroughly. I use the Anchor Wizard. I use it because it perfectly meets my reliable, simple, and efficient criteria. I designed two different brackets for mounting the anchor saddle to my Hobie without drilling any holes.
I prefer to have the anchor saddle stern mounted. When I'm anchored, the stern mount positions my kayak correctly to cast to wind blown banks or wind blown cover. It also works well in modest river current. Although I appreciate the concept of an anchor trolley system they do not meet the previously stated criteria. I've had them on kayaks in the past and I rarely used them. You can't quickly adjust to varying depths and there's always extra rope lying around ready to tangle itself on all of your expensive gear.
These are not new ideas.
What I hope will be new to you is your willingness to embrace these truths and I hope that you too will learn to get out there and kayak fish in the wind. If you work Monday through Friday like I do, don't let a little wind in the forecast ruin your precious weekend plans. Make a few adjustments to your gear, your clothing, and your mindset and go catch some hungry fish!
Jay is a member of the 2018 Hi Tempo / Hobie Kayak Fishing Team. He's fishing from a custom rigged Hobie Outback Fishing Kayak.