By William D. Anderson

Weather and Fishing for Bass

By William D. Anderson

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Everything you read about how weather effects fishing seems to say something different. The one thing everyone seems to say in common is that fishing slows down after a cold front passes. While this may be true in some cases, it's still no reason to not head for the water. All you need are a few tricks and you can catch fish in any type of weather.

Let's start by talking about what weather really is. In simple terms it's the constant changes we see in temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, precipitation, and so on. All the experts say these things effect how fish behave. While they do have their effects, it's foolish to plan your fishing trips by them. Sure, some conditions may be more ideal than others, but if we never tried to catch fish in adverse conditions, how could we improve our skills? Obviously if the weather creates an unsafe situation, it would be better to wait for more favorable conditions. But remember, the conditions you experience above water are far different than what the fish experience below the surface.

Weather can alter a fish's environment in several ways. Wind can stir up water and add oxygen. Precipitation can wash food into the water, or cloud the water with silt or other run off materials. Clouds can make it darker so the fish will move shallower. And those are just a few of many examples. If weather effects fish and their environment, then why do I say ignore it? I say ignore it because you still need to consider many of the same things no matter what the conditions or time of year. More on this later. .

There are two types of weather that you should not ignore - strong wind and lightning. Strong wind can create an unsafe situation if you're in a boat, and we know how lightning can ruin your day. I have seen fish spooked by lightning and thunder. Several years ago I lived next to a pond that was full of bass. All day long I could see them cruising the shoreline and sitting in the weed pockets. At that first crack of lightning and thunder, they'd all head for deep water at once. Sometimes they'd return within a half-hour of the storm passing. Other times it would take hours.

The lesson here is that besides the increased possibility of being struck by lightning because you're holding a 7-foot graphite lightning rod in your hands, the fish aren't going to be hitting. I've caught plenty of fish during downpours, before thunderstorms, and after thunderstorms, but never during a thunderstorm.  It's not worth the risk.

Wind is a different thing. Most people will hit the shore where the wind is blowing in from, but I prefer the other side. The windblown shorelines have a few things going for them. First, warmer water is blown to that side. Second, waves stir up the bottom and cause the bait-fish to feed. Waves also add oxygen and cut the amount of light that can penetrate the surface. Besides that, any noise from the waves hitting the shore can help cover any noise you may make.

So what about cold fronts, east winds, north winds, and so on. Forget about them. Think about what's going on below the surface and not what's going on where you are. Fish experience weather in the form of temperature change, pressure change, oxygen change, current, and light change, but they perceive it differently than we do. Fish are cold blooded and they'll react to temperature more than any other weather factors.

Keep in mind that if the water is too hot, the fish can experience stress and die from it. Over the past summer I had the opportunity to fish a power plant cooling lake that had surface temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. There were plenty of dead fish, but we caught plenty of live healthy ones.

If the surface weather diminishes the activity level below the water, there are a few things you can do to adjust. First, figure out where the fish are going to be. To do this, consider where the fish might find comfort, food, and safe surroundings. Second, present them with a potential meal that they are used to eating, and make sure they don't have to work very hard for it. Usually this means mimicking the natural food supply in the lake, and presenting it in a natural manner.

No matter what the conditions, time of year, etc., you still have to consider the same things when searching for fish. Find the water where the fish have cover. Decide if it can provide them comfort. And then think about the food supply that might be in the area. Sometimes there are obvious signs to guide you. Other times it's guesswork. But if you can get good at it, you'll catch more fish. Just remember to be aware of the forecast so you can leave yourself plenty of time to seek safe shelter in case bad weather approaches.

Each piece of the weather puzzle has an effect under the surface and knowing how each piece effects the fish can make you a better fisherman. This knowledge comes with experience. Weather effects fish differently in different bodies of water so it's impossible to apply one set of weather rules to all of them. If you forget about the weather and just go fishing, you'll gain this knowledge much faster than if you stay home every time the weather isn't quite right.


Herman Brothers Pond Management