Curse the Anemoi

Curse the Anemoi

Gary Meyer | Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Last week I was bitching about the weather. I complained about South Florida’s rash of freezes, droughts, and deluge. I guess I angered the weather gods as they have made it clear that I forgot one: the wind.

For the last few days, which of course included this weekend when I had time to fish, the winds averaged near 20 mph, steady, with gusts up to 40. It was a cool breeze with the sun often subdued by a mostly cloudy sky, and while damp there was not much rain. The little rain was light and moved through quickly negating the necessity of even an outer shell. In other words, the weather was rather fishable… except for the wind.

Usually, in the past, I could work around the wind, to a point, because an option is to fish in and around the mangrove creeks, which offer excellent protection. Often I would forget that the wind was blowing until happening across the more open water. That is the rub. Usually, there is open water that needs to be crossed to get to, or from, the better mangrove habitat. Even then, there are ways to lessen the discomfort. Leaving well before sunrise when the winds are at their lowest can work pretty well. Hugging the lee shore of larger lakes, oftentimes in addition to that early launch, can also be quite effective. Then, planning the trip so that the afternoon winds assist the return rather than hinder can make the paddle home feel like a celebration. The winds of late, however, were a bit strong, were from the worst direction, and never laid down, not even at night.

 

Part of my problem is the canoes I choose to fish out of are large tandem models that are very wide. I specifically select them for their excellent stability when standing and casting. I think they are the perfect fishing platform but they rate in the poor range for glide and maneuverability. Even in calm conditions, they are a chore to paddle. They (I have two) do not compare favorably with solo canoes or kayaks paddling-wise, but they fish so much better. Having to paddle large open lakes into the wind after a day of fishing is a mistake I have made often in the past, sometimes even knowing ahead of time it would happen, but I have had my fill of that.

 

A sneaky little secret is that high winds can often make for excellent fishing. Winds push water, piling it up on some shores and thinning it out on the opposite side. Those thin water conditions can create excellent sight fishing opportunities. And, while not quite as challenging, the water sometimes gets so low that the fish are forced into deeper holes and troughs where they become concentrated and competitive.

 

So, good fishing is accessible even if, or sometimes especially if it is windy. All it takes is years of experimentation and adventurous investigation to learn where the fish will be, a good understanding of the weather and topography, and thoughtful planning. At least that is all that it took up until the latest hurricane collapsed all the mangrove creeks. Boreas giveth and Boreas taketh away?

 

So, what do you do when you are not willing to gamble that a creek will be passable when hours of difficult canoe navigation are required to reach said creek? I am not one who can stay inside so, in case this windy trend continues I am considering learning to sail. Until then I guess I will just resume practicing my casting.

 

Casting in 20 to 40 mph winds? Yes, what else are you going to do? Actually, after I gave it a shot I found it was quite educational. I found that after trying to form narrow DT6 loops into gusts of 40, casting into a steady 20 seems like a walk in the park. Then after getting into a groove and feeling good about my delivery, I went ahead and turned around and tried to carry a decent back cast into it! I learned that it can be done, well… into 20 anyway. Also, I found the one particular combination of grip, stance, and rod angles that work while just about every other combination simply would not. And, in my case anyway, I found that my particular combination does not look much like any other good caster that I have seen.

 

I guess the moral is: when the weather gods give you crap, turn it into an education. But of course, this is probably not news to folks on SL.  Here I’ve even seen videos of folks casting in snow, which I hope you know looks like insanity to the outside world! Some will claim dedication, but we all know it is addiction. Don’t we?

 

BTW… if anyone will be attending the Fly Fishing Show in Atlanta this week drop me a line and let's see if we can meet up.