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Fishing the Wind
By Denny  Brauer

Just like fluctuating water, the wind can help you or hurt you. I have seen days when the wind was a plus and days when it destroyed the fishing. Normally in bass fishing the wind is an advantage unless it gets out of hand. Lots of fisherman never capitalize on the wind because they always fish the protected areas. Admittedly these areas can be easier for boat control and casting efficiency, but very seldom are the bass as active there except during the cold water months. Then the protected areas can be more productive and any wind can hurt.

The clearer the water you are fishing, the more important the wind is. Wind breaks up the surface and makes the fish more aggressive. I have seen times when you could not get a bite and then the wind came up and the fish went crazy. At certain times the wind can become part of your game plan. Some of the summer tournaments I have fished on Lake Mead in Nevada really illustrate this factor. I'd work deep points early until the wind got up later in the day and then got to the windy banks and worked topwaters and spinnerbaits.

I have also seen the wind get too strong and make the boat control and fishing almost impossible. At times the wind can prohibit you from getting to productive areas. It also can quickly turn nonproductive areas into bonanzas.

The wind enabled me to win the 1985 BASS tournament on Chickamunga Lake in Tennessee. I fished large coves on the lower end the first two days and was sitting in 10th place going into the last day. The nine in front of me looked like a Who's Who in bass fishing. At noon the last day I had yet to catch my first fish and I knew that if I was to have any chance to win I would have to gamble and make a move. The wind had come up strong, blowing 25 to 35 mph. I began thinking about a large group of fish I had found up the river on my chart recorder. They were suspended beside a ridge, laying out in the main river under a huge school of bait. I had spent a lot of time in practice trying to catch them to no avail. I thought the wind would move the bait in on the shallow ridge and the fish below them would follow.






  We still didn't even know for sure if they were bass. My partner agreed to take the long, rough ride up the river knowing the gamble.

The wind was so strong by the time we got there that about all we could do was blow down the ridge throwing crankbaits. I kept the boat in the deeper water and made casts up on the ridge. I was able to catch three bass that weighed seventeen pounds on the first two passes. We then had to navigate the rough water back in but made it just in time. I ended up winning by a couple of pounds thanks to the wind and knowing how it can affect bass.

At times this also means not being afraid to finish last. I sure don't recommend running in windy water that you or your boat are not capable of handling. No bass is worth a life or an injury. Use good judgment on the water and also when you buy a boat. When you buy a boat keep in mind where you are going to be fishing and if it is suitable for the adverse conditions you might encounter. My first boat was a 12 foot john boat which was fine for fishing the little protected backwater areas in the watershed lakes around my home. However, I realized that in order to have more freedom chasing bass and patterns all over the lakes and on larger water, I needed to move up in boat quality and size. My wife and I worked hard and bought our first brand new Ranger bass boat. I have run a Ranger since and know that whatever conditions I encounter, my boat is the last thing I need to worry about. That is a very comfortable feeling when you fish for a living or if you are out fishing with your family. Safety on the water is very important so keep that in mind when you go boat shopping. A boat is no place to cut corners.

I have seen the wind dirty up an area because of wave action and ruin the fishing, but most of the time when it dirties up an area a little bit it is a good place to check out and throw a spinnerbait. The wind will also beat weeds like hydrilla and milfoil loose and mat them in places. Pay attention to wind directions during storms then on the following day check wind blown mats, they may have fish under them.

A little tournament trick I employ is to use the wind to get fishing areas to myself. Lots of times in practice you can trailer to areas that contestants can not get to because of rough water. Because they did not practice there, they probably won't go looking come tournament time. If the wind lays somewhat you can run to these productive areas and virtually have them to yourself.

I was able to do this in the first BASS tournament I won on Sam Rayburn in Texas. The wind blew hard all throughout practice and I trailered up the lake to an area and found some good bass. By the time the rest of the field found these fish during the tournament, I already had a good lead.

The wind can also create some good current in places and get the bass feeding. This happens a lot on lakes like Okeechobee where the wind can funnel water through breaks in the rim channel and also through vegetation openings.

Obviously you can tell I like the wind and the advantages it can give you. If you start to look at wind as a helper rather than a problem, it will put more fish in the boat. Keep in mind, a spinnerbait on a windy bank is one consistent pattern that has saved many a fishless day.

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