Wind, wind, and more wind, in my opinion can be the fly fisherman’s worst enemy. We can fish through bitter cold and hot conditions, all day and all night, but sometimes the wind can just throw everything off for us. Casting and mending becomes difficult, it can make it tough to read water, and sight fishing can become nonexistent. On river’s wind will generally only affect our cast and the ability to see fish, but on still water’s the wind can play a very important role in presentation and where fish might be feeding. If you are planning on fishing the area lakes from a float tube, boat, or from shore, below is a diagram with tactics I use when guiding the lakes, or fishing them for myself when dealing with wind.
1. The angler in position 1 is fishing near an inlet of the lake, which will always be a great spot to fish when the inlet is running. Fish are naturally attracted to running water for spawning purposes and feeding. When fishing an inlet, it is important to keep an eye out for actively spawning fish, and avoid fishing to them. Luckily, our area lake inlets are protected by seasonal closures to allow fish the opportunity to do they’re thing. Instead, fishing the outflow into the lake is a great opportunity to target larger pre-spawn trout. In the diagram, the angler is positioned to drift and effectively fish the outflow during heavy winds. From this position the angler can cover the simulated current accurately with streamers or nymphs with little effect from the wind. In this case, the wind will help to make longer casts and cover more water. When the angler feels he or she has drifted far enough to cover the water in mind, they can simply row back to the beginning and cover the drift again.
2. The landscapes around a lake can also play an important role on a windy day. The anglers in position 2 are anchored and seeking refuge from the wind by positioning themselves just offshore with the wind at their backs. The high bank or hill behind them creates protection from the wind, and in turn the water will also be much calmer on this side of the lake. This can be an ideal position for nymphing on a windy day. From here the angler will still have a slight chop to work with, which in my mind is the best for nymphing and giving action to the flies.
3. During high winds food items can be blown to the downwind side of the lake towards the mud line. The mud line is created from turbulent waves washing ashore and stirring up silt on the shoals. This can be an excellent place to find fish eagerly feeding on the many food items that have been washed to the downwind side of the lake. The anglers in position 3 are anchored and fishing the mud line. When fishing a mud line one technique that works very well is casting a streamer or weighted nymph into the murky water and pulling it back towards you. In the mud line baitfish can become disoriented from the murky water making them an easy target for larger fish. The murky water will also help hide the angler and will allow you to sneak in closer to better cover the area.
4. Just like the anglers in position 2, the angler in position 4 is anchored and fishing an area that will be protected from the wind by the landscape. Here the angler is anchored and concentrating on the calmer water just off the point. Even on the downwind side of a lake you can find protection in coves by positioning yourself correctly according to the landscape around you.
5. Like the angler in position 1, the angler in position 5 is not anchored and fishing a drift with the aid of the wind. Here, the angler can set himself up to cast towards the bank while drifting with the wind and effectively cover more water than if anchored. Stripping streamers and nymphs near the weed beds is a very effective tactic to use during high winds. Turbulent waves can help dislodge food items from weed beds in shallow water making easy targets for cruising fish.
These are the techniques I use when battling wind on the lakes. In my mind there is always a positive option for any weather condition present while fishing. The angler who looks at these situations and adapts, overcomes, and improvises usually will be rewarded. So next time the wind kicks up and your thinking of heading for shore, look around you and observe what’s going on first, you might find and learn a whole new way to fish the lakes with wind. On the other hand, be safe, there is such thing as to much wind, and that’s when the PBR hatch starts.
Authored By: Tim Drummond (NPA Guide)