Friday, February 14, 2014

Planning Your Trip: When NOT to Fish

I could have fished today but I didn't.  It's my loss but it's your gain because I'm going to use my free time today to talk about everything that goes into planning a trip.  You are going to want to save this link!



Today's goal is to answer the age old question "When is the best time to go fishing?"  The short answer is "When you can."  But some days I don't.  Let me point you in the right direction:

Weather

So I'm off.  First thing I do is pull up a few weather pages.  I always start with accuweather.com   It's been good to me over the years.  In fact I have it saved to several different zip codes that I fish.  An easy way to find those are using google earth and clicking the zipcode map overlay.

So what am I looking for with accuweather?

  1. Wind speed is the most important item. I like accuweather because they give wind speed and wind gust estimates.   Experience has taught me that the gusts are what the wind will really be!  If its over 12mph I have to really want to go fishing.
  2. Rain - I don't like fishing in the rain but I can.  Lightning is another matter.  
  3. Sunrise and sunset.  You want to get on the water right at sunrise (most days) and you need to be at the launch by sunset.  
  4. Hourly forecast.  Sometimes you can squeeze in a quick trip before the winds get bad.  Or you can plan a stop at a convenient camp.
Can I trust one site?  NO

Next I get a better wind forecast:


Here I can really see if something is going through the area, I look for major transitions in the winds.  I can also see if the forecaster is getting clever.  Say we're right on the edge of a major wind shift.  I might stay home just in case or I might go out hoping for the best depending upon my eagerness to fish.  Study them awhile and you will see what I mean.

One thing that I never track but probably should:

Barometric Pressure

This is a lot like faerie dust to me but often I find out, after the fact, that the pressure was high or low on  a bad day.  Here's an article

I've cleared that the weather is good so I'm almost surely going; no matter what, but if it's borderline what else helps me make my decision to go?

Tides

I know I'm speaking fishing heresy but tides are overrated in making the decision to fish.  For me fishing is more important than catching.  I've caught fish on a slack tide, I've caught em on a fast fall a slow fall and the reverse.  I go fishing when I can and the weather is not against me; the rest (catching) is just gravy and I've caught in all tide conditions.  It matters but the tide won't keep me home either.
BUT
If the weather is iffy then I look to my tide charts.  
I like Louisiana Sportsman's charts; while I'm there I look at the moon phases too. I'll fish on a full moon but if the weather is iffy I'll stay home instead.  I'll fish on a bad tide but if the weather is bad I'm more likely to stay home.  However, if I absolutely have to fish I'll also remember that the wind moves water too.  A slack tide can look like a falling tide on a north wind or an incoming tide on a south wind.

Location

This isn't an article on seasonal fishing but where I fish is a time of year issue or a weather issue.  I often fish locations based on the wind forecast.  To do this I use google earth again.  Say I have a 12-15 mph North East wind.  It's a little high but the Sun is out, the tide is right, and it's not a full moon and I'm off work.  Where will I fish?  


Here's a sample location and route.  I'll look for wind protection to the North East of my route.  Notice the hard levee, also I'll plan my route to have some wind break to my North East at all times.  So that there is only a few times where I'm paddling straight into that wind.  

I'll generally stick to shallow waters and look for redfish.  But if I've got to have trout then I use the same ideas.  You can see that the Lake in the bottom corner of the picture also provides a "lee shore". I could paddle on out there and try some trout but the further away from the levee I get the less effective my windbreak will be.  If it's no good I tuck right back into the marsh and know I've got a bigger paddle home.

Those are the basics now get out there and fish!

The Wilderness Ride 135 is a great boat for all weather!

The trout above was caught on a day almost identical to that described in this blog entry.

Oh yeah, Why didn't I go out today?  It was 35 degrees this morning.  I had to be home by 3pm.  Winds were going to start whipping by noon.  I just didn't want to be that cold today, and I didn't have enough time for a worth while trip after sunrise at 6:45am.  





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