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ARTICLE

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DUSTIN WITH NICE WEST COAST TROUT

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 KAYAK FISHING THE WIND - TIPS

BY: DUSTIN HILL

            A kayak is a very functional fishing platform for many applications in both estuarine and freshwater environments.  Kayaks are quieter and require less water to float than the vast majority of skiffs and other small boats- attributes that make a kayak ideal for the shallow water fisherman.  However, many anglers would agree that kayak fishing loses its appeal and effectiveness when wind conditions are rough, particularly in non-protected waters.  While boat control during windy conditions is relatively easy on a flats skiff or bass boat with a bow-mounted trolling motor, the kayak fisherman has only his or her paddle to compensate for the wind.  With only two hands, it can be very challenging to control a drifting kayak and cast a lure simultaneously, especially when structure fishing.  When I was new to the world of kayak fishing, such conditions were a source of great frustration.  I began to avoid the kayak when wind forecasts exceeded 10-15kts.  Finally, I realized that limiting myself to fishing good weather days was costing me in the catching department.  I slowly learned how to fish effectively and efficiently out of a kayak in less than ideal conditions, and my results improved tenfold.  Any good bass fisherman will tell you that wind can often be a catalyst for an excellent bite.  That theory applies to the same extent in the inshore saltwater arena.

            Windy conditions provide three inherent advantages for the fisherman.  First, wind creates current in otherwise still-water areas.  Most predatory fish are ambush-oriented feeders to various degrees.  When wind generates moving water, fish often congregate on points, in cuts between islands, or at small run-outs that might otherwise have minimal current flow.  Wind also pushes schools of baitfish against windward shorelines.  Spots that might be unproductive during calm conditions can hold large quantities of bait when the wind blows stiffly.  Predatory fish often capitalize on such a situation.  Lastly, wind and choppy conditions mask the presence of the angler.  Kayaks are naturally stealthy due to the low-profile design, however a decent chop can be advantageous when targeting wary fish like gator speckled trout.          

            Fishing effectively out of a kayak in windy conditions often requires modifications to normal fishing techniques, especially for artificial lure fishermen.  Whereas methodically working long stretches of shoreline can be productive during good conditions, windy days are often more suitable for the “run-and-gun” approach.  When the wind is blowing strongly, I spend the day moving from one ambush point to the next, ignoring the territory in between unless there is evident activity.  This method usually necessitates covering a lot of water, but longer, swifter kayaks make the task easily manageable.  As mentioned previously, the best spots are points and cuts where wind-driven current is generated or windward shorelines where bait is pinned to the grass/oysters.  Fishing protected areas in the lee of islands is generally unproductive. 

            To fish successfully in the wind, it is important to have the capability of anchoring the kayak quickly and easily.  Depending on the water depth and bottom composition, either an anchor or stakeout pole works well.  When I approach an ambush point, I anchor the kayak within casting distance, but not so close as to spook any fish present.  When using a traditional anchor, use as little scope as possible so picking up is a lesser ordeal.  If water conditions are very choppy, I utilize an anchor trolley to run my line to the bow or stern, but more often that not, I anchor off the side of the kayak.  Once again, this facilitates the ability to move quickly and cover many spots. 

            There are occasional instances where fish are extremely concentrated in a small area on blustery days.   If water depth and bottom firmness permit wading, this is an excellent time to hop out of the kayak.  There is no easier way to fish in the wind than wading.  When you’re in the water, it’s usually possible to turn so the wind benefits your casting.  Simply connect the bow or stern of the kayak to you with a loop of rope around the waist.  If fly-fishing is your forte, wading with the use of a stripping basket is always an excellent option.

            Inshore sport fish often feed more aggressively in choppy, windy conditions than when the waters are glassy.  Despite popular thought, fish will often hit topwater lures extremely well in choppy water, particularly redfish and large trout.  Working a plug may be slightly more challenging, but the fish won’t take notice. 

            Over the course of a year, there are many days where the wind forecast is poor, yet the fishing is potentially outstanding.  This is particularly true from late autumn through the early spring where gusty conditions often prevail.  By learning to use the wind to your advantage and making efficient use out of every cast, the next big bite may always be just one point or run-out away.  Good luck!

 

 

 

Skip Hill shows off a 26” 6lb trout caught from a windward grassline.

 

 

 

 

Windy conditions are ideal for wading.  Skip connected with this 8lb red on a topwater plug.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CaptDick offers several products to assist you when fishing windy conditions:  Please see our:  ANCHOR TROLLEY KIT - STAKEOUTPOLE - DRIFTCHUTE - SMALL FOLDING ANCHOR - MULTIPURPOSE LINE KIT

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