Many anglers will say that the wind can act as both a hindrance and a help while out on the water. Sometimes erratic and disruptive, stronger winds can cause problems when casting or driving to your intended destination.
While in some cases anglers are challenged with it, there are other times when the wind can be used to your advantage. Whether using the winds to drift while fishing or to energize inactive fish, windy conditions are sometimes viewed as a positive. By simply monitoring and evaluating weather conditions, every angler can have a distinct advantage before leaving shore.
With today’s technology, many boats are better able to handle windy conditions. Improved designs and innovative features help to combat stronger winds, but as waves grow larger even the most advanced boats require a steady hand at the wheel. Any angler caught in a storm while out on the water should abandon any thoughts of racing home at top speeds. I realize that the desire to get home grows as conditions worsen but anglers that maintain a reasonable speed will have a greater control over their boat.
If driving directly into the wind, the boat will be going up and over each wave and then declining into the trough. This is when speed is crucial. Remember to adjust the speed of the boat so it gently goes over the top of each crest. As the boat descends into the trough, reduce the speed and keep the bow of the boat raised so that it will not be buried into the upcoming wave. Maintain a hand or foot on the throttle at all times and adjust the boat’s speed to each wave. As the waves grow bigger and steeper, quartering the waves might be a better option. By steering the boat so that it meets the waves at an angle rather than perpendicular, the rough motions will be avoided.
In the instances where you are traveling in the same direction as the waves, maintain enough speed to stay ahead of the crests. Waves often come in sets so use that to your advantage when preparing to enter and exit rough waters. In any direction, make sure to study the waves, check the balance of your boat and keep the bow up.
Another helpful fishing tactic in windy conditions is drifting over flats. Drifting allows anglers to cover water efficiently and is very effective in heavy waves or when covering large areas. Controlling your boat while drifting involves positioning weight in the boat and using the motor as a rudder. A heavier, balanced boat will drift better in high winds. If winds are so strong that the boat drifts too quickly, use one or more drift socks (large bags on ropes) to slow down.
Ranger Boats has developed several key features that enhance performance in stronger winds. Their exclusive Rite-Track Keel design keeps more of the hull in the water while fishing and decreases exposure to the wind. This design not only works to minimize lateral drift, but also promotes easier trolling and solid tracking.
So the next time you experience stronger winds and waves, keep these tips in mind. Always be prepared for the day’s weather and never take on more than you can handle.