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When is the weather too bad for kayak fishing?

It’s a 70 degree balmy late spring day, the moon phase, full, a slight breeze perfect weather to be out and drifting in the kayak. That happens about three days out of the calendar year, the rest of the time it’s a battle against whatever nature throws at you. We paddle and fish when we can, sometimes you fight the natural forces more than fish. Here’s how I try to get along with Mother Nature.

How to handle wind in a kayak

The worst scenario for paddling and pitching baits is the wind. Gusty winds take away or minimally makes fishing jigs and soft plastics very difficult. You’re dependent on keeping contact with your bait to sense a strike and the wind will put a substantial bow or slack in your line and destroy the feel of what’s happening at the business end of the line. I do two things to combat the wind, rule #1 tie on a spinnerbait. The spinner is ideal to throw into the wind blown bank where now the feeding cycle has begun. The bottom is churned up, small bits of natural fod are stratifying and the bait fish, minnows and crawfish feed on the tiny bits. Next #2, I paddle up into the wind and then turn to put the breeze at my back and use it as a natural trolling motor. Next I make small periodic corrections with my Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon paddle to cover the “fishiest” looking spots. Keep the rod low and parallel to the water’s surface to minimize the winds effect on your line and you can still work the feel type jigs and plastic.

Murky / Muddy Water in a kayak

Where many anglers freak out at “dirty” water, I look forward to it. On the downside if you are in a small stream, creek or river current comes with rising water due to rain. Again on the plus side the location and positioning of the fish is dictated by current and color. Another advantage is the limited vision of the fish, you can make a close up presentation without spooking them, ideal for flipping soft plastic and jigs in their “house.” Bass will stage behind any cover that break and redirects the flow and relate strongly to any immovable object. In highly stained water they set up close to cover and approaching them becomes easier, logical holding places are submerged trees, boulder rock, boat docks, and shallow points which redirect the current and create swirling eddies where fish will often time rest and wait for the waters to drift food to them. Willowleaf spinnerbaits deliver extreme visual flash, jigs mimic the crawfish dearly prized by all the species of bass, buzzbaits for surface feeding fish and rattling cranking lures ring the dinner bell with the audio signal, these all work when there’s “mud in their eye.”

Temperature Extremes Kayak Fishing

Different but the same. Really hot or really cold, the metabolism of a bass goes into slow down, also minimizing their activity levels including feeding. They’re a lot tougher to catch when they’re in a neutral or negative feeding mode and they are reluctant to move. The strike zone of a lethargic bass shrinks considerable and requires a change in tactics and possibly a bait change. The solution, sloooowww…..down. Minnow imitating baits in the form of “plugs”, plastic versions, a downsized spinner and maybe the in-line models, or s tantalizing topwater are all likely to draw the interest of the hot and cold bass. When and species of bass are lazy they are less likely to chase anything any amount of distance. You have three jobs now, make it (your bait selection) look real, make it look easy to catch and make a good hook set. Under the most adverse circumstances a small bait coupled with a slow retrieve will generally produce enough action to make it a good day.

Your “Bank” Account is Empty

Cruising the bank, shoreline in fear of getting skunked is OK but there comes a time, (in the heat of summer, the midst of winter) when the bass abandon the bank. It’s always a comfort zone to cast at visible shorelines and the objects dotting the banks. Take a deep breath and move to secondary, off shore objects and distinct bottom contours. Bass will set up here when water levels are falling, food sources “dry” up or relocate and fish move seasonally in and out as weather and water brings bait into different waters. After two or three days of any natural occurring activity it becomes a pattern, recognition of this helps you to find the new hiding spots. Fish will move in (or out) but a drastic change in conditions can cause them to relocate again. Lake water is more stable and thereby more predictable as to water level consistency but moving water gets the nod as to the majority of the bank and shoreline all being alive.

Weather and Kayak Fishing

Hitting a Moving Target

when all else fails I go “junk” fishing. Switch species to the almost always accommodating bluegill, white or black crappie, white bass or any of the class of catfish. Smaller versions of the bass baits are likely to fool a few fish. Small open face spinning rod and reel combinations are fun and effective, try an ultra-light or light 6 ½ foot rod spooled with four or six pound test they’re ideal. Another consideration is dunking some live bait in the vicinity of alternate species. Red worms, nightcrawlers, crickets or minnows all work well.

Don’t wait for the picture perfect day to push off in your kayak, use caution but test yourself against the weather and the fish under adverse conditions, you’ll find that fish can be caught under any circumstances.

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