Controlling Wind and Waves
By Sam Anderson
As a tournament angler I have been up against some really tough conditions
when it comes to wind and waves. A few tournaments that I remember
you couldn't see the boat next to you because the swells were so deep that
if both boats were in the bottom of a particular swell they were out of
sight of each other, yet probably only 50 feet apart. When conditions
get like this boat control is essential not only for presentation but also
for safety reasons.
The sea anchor is an essential tool for any fisherperson.
It gives you the control and adds a safety feature to any craft in turbulent
weather. Hold ontoyour hats and hit the waves they will repay you
with a nice catch of walleyes taken with the use of a sea anchor.
Boat control can be defined as; the location and speed of a trolled
lure is largely dependent on how you maneuver the boat that pulls it, and
how you counteract elements that affect your speed and direction especially
wind and current.
One way that I have solved the problem with boat control is by using
a sea anchor. A sea anchor is a cone-shaped under water wind sock,
similar to those at airports that detect changes in wind direction.
Control sea anchors aid boat control in two ways. First of
all, they slow your drift in strong winds. Secondly, you can use
them to fine-tune subtle boat maneuvers in rough seas or heavy current.
Most anglers who fish large expansive lakes or rivers carry a sea anchor
with them daily. The rule is usually one sea anchor is adequate for
most boats and conditions. But, if you have a large boat and the
sea anchor isn't doing it's job you may need your large one off the front
cleat and a smaller one at the stern.
When fishing alone in a console boat in heavy winds, I troll headlong
into the wind with a sea anchor tied at the bow of the boat. By letting
out about 8 feet of rope, the bag trails next to the console. I can
yank it out of the water with a safety cord if I need to without getting
out of my seat and I never lose control of the boat.
That maybe all right if you want to slow down your presentation, but
control is still very important and you have to be able to control your
presentation if you want the fish to bite. One way that I approach
control is by tying a sea anchor at the bow of the boat and then backtrolling
along a contour depth. By tying a Drift Control sea anchor at the
bow of the boat it will hold the bow down and reduces splashing for backtrolling
into the wind. This control will even allow me to swim a 1/16
ounce Fuzzy Grub over the rocks and keep my boat pointed in the direction
I want to go, rather than the way the wind wants to push me.
Backtrolling downwind is also possible and necessary on some
days, when your boat doesn't rock so much in waves. This reduces
the jigging action of your bait, and at times, walleyes are turned off
by too much vertical action. The Drift Control sea anchor acts like
a big tail. You get excellent boat control by going with the wind
and easing the throttle in and out of gear.
When fishing a windy, unprotected point, one option is to deploy
two sea anchors and drift the tip. But a better option might be to
use only one bag off the bow and backtroll into the wind to cover both
the tip and each inside turn. Be sure to tie the bag on the bow eye,
not on a side cleat.
The position of where you tie off is critical to control.
As I have mentioned previously the bow eye is a great place, but other
times on a windy point that has a major drop off that hangs the outside
edge of the point you might want to switch to the portside cleat in the
bow so you can hold tighter to the structure. Usually you shouldexperiment
with your positioning of the sea anchor, and how it affects your boat,
before launching out into gale force winds. Along with that, if you
fish with a partner, you both should get used to fishing in and around
a bag. If your partner doesn't reel in the bag when you have a tournament
winning walleye on, it can be disastrous. Practice with the bag,
as well as with the positioning of the tie off rope on your boat.
Don't rule out a sea anchor on windless days. If the water's
deep, you can usually troll over walleyes with an outboard. On Mille
Lacs when the lake goes flat, I will put out my sea anchor and use my
trolling motor so my
Hatchet Harness spinner barely spins. This technique drives the walleyes
crazy especially if a cold front has passed through and they are finicky.
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