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Fishing Troubled Waters

Posted: August 14th, 2013 by Bill Dance

Just when you thought the fishing was tough, Mother Nature offers up some severe weather. So, now not only is getting there a problem, but so is the suddenly much more important dilemma of getting back.

I have a huge respect for the weather and other elements Ma Nature can toss at you on fishing trips. With that in mind, here are few tips for navigating the not-so-nice elements.

Navigating Rough Water

* The first and most important thing to consider is having plenty of fuel in your boat. When you are fighting rough water you are burning twice as much fuel.

* Is the lake you are fishing small enough and safe enough to run the lee (sheltered) side of the lake?

* Before you even try to run rough water, you should know the wind speed, direction and wave size. You have to know your limits and have a strategy.

* How far apart are the peaks of the waves? This is more important than how big they are. If they are 10 feet tall and 15 feet apart (not uncommon for anglers on really big lakes like Erie), you can run in the trough on plane. If they are 5 feet apart and only 2 feet apart, it will beat your brains out.

* Keep the boat at an angle so the hull takes the wave, utilizing the trim. Figure out how much trim is needed to keep the waves breaking under the hull. If the nose of the boat is burying into the waves, you can get in trouble.

* Never, ever, try to race a wave and always tack at a slight angle in the troughs, between waves. You can’t run on top of waves.

* Don’t be fooled into thinking a bilge pump can keep up with incoming water via waves. On the big water one wave can put 500 gallons of water in a boat in a second. A bilge pump can never catch up.


With the advent of moder electronics, fog is not seen as much of a problem anymore for anglers. Don’t be fooled.

But, don’t take anything for granted, even when running with a GPS in fog. A GPS shows where you going, but it doesn’t tell you what is in front of you. There could be all kinds of obstacles drifting out there in front of you, perhaps even a boat tied up. Use caution. Use common sense.

Foul weather is not all that makes for an interesting/risky run in a bass boat. There are all sorts of obstacles out there betwixt and between some of the best bass waters (rocks, timber, sudden change in depth, etc.).

When To Call It Off

There comes a time when the smart angler knows the risk of facing treacherous waters is too great. And bear in mind, with ever-changing weather, this decision can be made in the midst of a fishing trip as well as before it ever starts.

If you get caught in bad weather, consider finding a safe place to tie up and wait it out. And always take your time, boats are made to float. Panic and ill, quick decisions can be a dangerous combination.

Bill Dance



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