Brad Laabs: Adapt to conditions to enjoy the trip more
With all the wind and rain we have had this last week, it might be a good time to talk about adjustments a person can make to adapt to the conditions.
First, we will take on the rain. The most obvious is to get a good quality rain suit. I cannot believe the amount of anglers that skimp when it comes to quality! With weather gear, you usually get what you pay for. I am out in all kinds of extreme conditions so it is easy for me to justify investing several hundred dollars. Most won’t need to spend that kind of money, but plan on spending $50-$100 for gear that really works.
Get raingear that is also a wind stopper. Getting wet is one thing, getting wet and having the wind leech your body heat away from you can wreck a fishing trip.
Don’t skimp on gear when it comes to the kids. If you want them to become lifelong anglers, it is important to make sure they stay comfortable.
I know we all like a good deal, and sometimes it seems hard to justify spending money on weather gear. In my experience, if you buy quality right away, you will save money in the long run as you won’t end up having to buy multiple sets.
Don’t skimp on footwear either. Wet feet can chill your whole body and shorten a fishing outing.
The old-timers that told us to keep our head, hands, and feet warm and dry knew what they were talking about. Always have several pair of light gloves and hand warmers onboard. They come in very handy to keep fingers working when the wind and rain are robbing your hands of heat. A towel and rags in the boat will come in handy to dry hands, and help wipe off bait or fish slime.
Put valuables in tupperware containers or ziplock bags. I know better, and due to being lazy by nature and not taking the minute to secure things, I have soaked phones, checkbooks, cameras, wallets, money, and my pride! Most storage areas in boats will not keep things dry by themselves. If you put valuables in containers and then stow them in compartments, you will thank yourself for being so smart!
Wind is always an issue when it comes to fishing. We never seem to run out of wind for very long. The easy way to deal with wind is to fish the calm parts of the lake. Sometimes that works great and you can get on the fish and be very comfortable. Many times, some of the most active fish will be in some of the windiest parts of the lake. Weather gear plays an important role here as well, but we will focus more on boat control issues.
The ultimate in boat control in the wind is an anchor. If the fish are concentrated in a small area, anchoring up wind and pitching jigs, bobbers, crankbaits or live bait rigs to the fish can be the most effective way to stay on the fish.
Most times you will need to plan on letting out enough rope with your anchor to make sure your boat holds and doesn’t drag your anchor through the fishing area. Letting out 3-4 times the length of rope as the depth you are fishing will work, more if it is very windy.
You can cleat the rope on the bow into the wind to reduce the drag on the boat. Changing the cleat position will change the boat angles and help work more water. Anchoring the transom into the wind will reduce the amount of rocking and rolling of the boat, but can also create more resistance and increase the risk of the anchor breaking loose.
The use of a drift sock can slow the boat drift in a heavy wind. A drift sock is like a parachute deployed in the water. They have come a long way since the days of tying a five gallon bucket to a rope and throwing it over to slow a drift. The drift socks are weighted on one part of the hoop and floats on the other so they open easily in the water. A strap on the nose helps empty the chute and pull it in with ease.
Splash guards, electric trolling motors, and kicker motors are all part of improving your ability to control your boat in almost any wind. Filling livewells and baitwells is a good way to add weight to the boat and reduce the effect of the wind.
The only way to learn to become better with boat control in the wind is to get out and practice. Don’t worry, we have a lot of practice days on the schedule!
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)