Use the wind to catch more fish - TODAY!
article and photos by Bill Byrd

Very recently I was fishing on a favorite lake with beautiful windy spring conditions. There was a partly cloudy sky, wind blowing from the SSE at 6 to 12 mph, only small cumulus clouds in the sky, and I was virtually ALONE on the water!

What happened to me on this late day of spring fishing has prompted me to write this article. Maybe you can take encouragement and learn from my experience in this situation.

Years ago I wrote and article about catching fish in the wind. My article entitled click on my article called [Use the wind to Catch more Fish!] is in my Technical section, and what I related there still holds true today.

Yesterday's conditions prompted me to write this article about fly fishing in wind again. When most fly fishers are confronted with wind, I believe that their immediate reaction is negative. Instead of negative thoughts, put that wind to use to HELP you catch fish! NO, I'm NOT crazy -- I do it on every windy trip. You can, too.

Here's how. In the frame (RIGHT) you see what might be normal lakeside surroundings on a pond or lake familiar to you. The bushes with overhanging branches represent cover for the fish. Especially in high sun periods, fish gather under the bushes back in the dark, around roots, submerged wood, rocks, anything cover to which they can relate. All of the sunfishes do this including: bass, bluegills, redear sunfish, redbreast sunfish, green sunfish, crappies -- all of them are there and even in mixed pods of fish.

Fish do this not because their eyes are hurt by the sun , rather they have the best protection from predators, and should an insect fall close by, they can dart out, smack it, and quickly return to hide. For full details on fish vision, click on my article called [FISH EYES].

Note the wind direction. Fish turn and feed into the wind. Why? The wind is an air current, and it moves food to the fish just like water current. In this case, the wind is causing a slight amount of water current that will push insects fallen on the surface or small minnows into the fish's feeding lane.

When you have the opportunity to fish this situation, tie on your choice of top water fly and probe the area. Don't cast immediately to the area closest to or under the bush. Cast well out front and to both sides of the bush, particularly upwind of the bush (to the right in this case) five to seven feet out front of the bush. If there are fish holding on the outside edge looking into the wind, you can catch them without disturbing the bigger number of fish actually holding close to the bush and under it in the shaded areas. Let your fly wind drift into the strike zone, and if you don't get a strike, strip it out in short 2 inch strips, then pick it up to cast. Don't rip your fly off the water out of the area. Then you are ready to cast the area again without having spooked the fish on your previous casts.

Cast back and forth across the front of the area, casting farther in toward the bush each pass. You'll systematically fish all of the water, and catch the outside fish without disturbing the inside fish, and you should catch many more of the available fish. Then cast closer and closer to the bush, and finally up under the overhang of the bush.

If the fish don't respond to your top water fly, tie on a slowly sinking fly and repeat the process. When you find out what the fish want to eat, you'll have the pattern, and you'll be prepared to use the wind to help you catch the fish.

Use stealth and the wind to catch many more fish in these sometimes trying circumstances, and you may be rewarded with a fish like you see left!

OK, so yesterday I followed my own advice of many years and produced an amazing result. I fished two spots on this lake and found fish holding in both spots. The first spot is a simple u shaped cove with 1 to 5 foot water and lots of wood and plant cover along the shore. I always find some fish there. Yesterday I thought I'd see if there were some fish there, so I proceeded to the spot and set up my boat 25 feet from shore UPWIND. Then I started making casts out from the cover and let the wind drift my foam spider into the cover - NATURALLY.

Immediately I caught my first bluegill, on the second cast I hooked and released another, and so it went. For an hour and ten minutes I slowly moved back and forth across the face of this hundred foot wide little area and cast to the fish moving in to feed. At the end of the hour and ten minutes I had hooked and released 130 fish. That is NOT a type-o --- 130 fish. I was incredulous. I just sat there, had a drink of water and pondered what had just happened. I called my wife and told her, and said I thought I'd hit one more spot before coming in.

I moved to the second and final spot that I fished that day. This is a rock wall with overhanging brush for half of its length with 2 to 5 foot water, located in afternoon sun, with a big shady area in it. Fish like to hold in that shade. The wind was only slightly blowing into this srea. I fished my way down the wall and started catching fish on my size 14 foam spider again. The fish were getting larger and stronger.

I concentrated my casts to the outer most spots that produced strikes. I kept my casts low over the water. I kept my casts quiet. When I set the hook it was smoothly and quietly. I kept the fish off the surface to keep down disturbance. Fish after fish met me and was released. My casts probed closer and closer to shore. For another hour I fished this spot casting back and forth in many different spots. By 415 Pm I had caught and released 76 fat bluegills from this spot.

Both areas had held an enormous amount of fish. The conditions were right and once I realized that the system was working for me, I WORKED THE SYSTEM.

I caught and released 206 fish that afternoon. None was hurt. It was amazing.

What is the lesson? Learn to think like a fish. See potential situations. Then probe likely water. Note what the fish are telling you. Give them every option to feed. Keep from doing anything to alarm them and shut their feeding down. If you will follow my suggestions, I believe you'll be amazed.

Please - Catch and release most fish. If you keep some, just keep a few. That way they will be available to us and future fly fishers.