Wind Blown Walleyes
By Ross Grothe & Bob Riege
Winter is a great time to reflect on the seasons that have past.
Itseems that winter is the longest of all seasons and I sometimes wish
my life away hoping that spring will come. Standing on the hillside
overlooking the wind-blown river, I feel the chill of winter in my bones
like the nagging ache of persistent flu. Whitecaps march in uneven
rows, blown southward to their deaths on a rocky shore. The sky is
ghost-gray, with scudding low clouds moving rapidly across the frozen,
uncaring terrain. I imagine what it would be like to be on the water
at this time fishing some wind blown walleyes.
Walleyes in the wind is not a subject that you read about everyday.
Most fishermen probably won’t go out on windy days because they can’t control
their boats or they can’t feel the jig on the bottom. Walleyes in
the wind can and does produce walleyes and sometimes the best walleye fishing
comes when it is windy.
Wind also has an effect on light penetration. The wind creates
waves, and waves cut down on light penetration. That’s why you’ll
find walleyes on a shallow reef on a bright day if it’s windy. Take
the same reef on a bright, calm day, and frequently it will be devoid of
fish. I generally start looking for walleyes on the wind-blown side of
the lake, and the wind-blown side of a structure. Walleyes will usually
be most active on the side of the lake or reservoir that the wind is blowing
into because that’s where light penetration is reduced. On a
given piece of structure the same will hold true with baitfish being
disorientated because of wave action. This is a key area, because
the predators will congregate at the outside edge and feed on the baitfish.
However, keep in mind that a good walleye structure that is not windblown
will still be better that a poor walleye structure that is not windblown.
Walleyes are opportunistic fish and will go where the meal is the easiest
to catch. There are some wind directions that I prefer over others.
It seems that north, northeast, and northwest winds can have detrimental
effect on fishing success. They usually indicate a coming change
in weather. Winds coming from the northwest are a good indication that
a cold front is pushing across your favorite fishing hole. In the
spring and fall this usually turns the fish off and the bite is very slow.
Winds from the south or southwest are frequently good fishing winds.
They bring warmer air, which can be a good deal in the spring and fall.
They are commonly known indicators of stable weather conditions. As I mentioned
before boat control is always a problem in the wind. With a little practice
and a drift sock you can control your boat even on the toughest structure.
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 Tournament Series 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 siide cleat. The position where you tie off is critical to control.
You should experiment 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. Consider wind direction, but don’t stay home just because
the wind is
blowing from the north. The wind is a tool you should use just
like your rod, boat or your depthfinder. In conjunction with all
these tools the wind can be a useful, tool so you can experience more success.
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