Wind, Wind, Wind....
Unfortunately, we have to take it and take as much of it as mother nature throws at us.
Wind makes waves which and when combined with sunlight sustains superior oxygen levels. Good. Stillwater fly fisher people experience numerous varieties of still water conditions. From that dark, extremely reflected "pondy", calm as can be "sheet of glass" scenario to the polar opposite - hard pounding winds that throw reflections of grey and spray throughout the entire day.
Getting out of it sometimes consists of motoring all the way across the lake to tuck up against the far tree-line/shoreline, because the wind has skipped a mere 40 feet of that end, shooting over the trees and touching water just offshore. Just enough to anchor.
Why is the wind always blowing head-on into our campsites? Who knows, it rarely graces us in the "overhead" direction. When the wind is mad, its time to adjust our tactics.
Those long/meticulously tied leaders ending in super light fluorocarbon tippets can be laid to rest for the day. Why? Well in my opinion, when the surface is "disturbed", so is the way light falls through the water column. Therefore, being extra sneaky or cautious may need not apply. If the only cast-able water available, is less than 4 feet - completely disregard what I just said.
During these hurricane-ish type days, spend some extra time learning your lake's profile. Actually, spend more than 30 seconds searching for bugs. Comb the bottoms of logs, sift through the bullrushes and overturn rocks. Have a look at small particles passing you along the shoal.
What particles? The disturbed particles that the waves have dug up and sent on their way. Why are they moving? because the lake has now incorporated a small breeze current. That's right, the water is moving in a specific direction, usually affiliated with the pulse or pressure of the waves reaching shallower water. There is serious pressure on the surface of a small lake during winds greater than 25kph. Imagine blowing on a plate with an inch of water on top. Things get pushed around and it's not often observed because of the wave surface disturbances.
Whichever side of a bay or end of the lake this debris or sediment is heading, sometimes so are the fish. The problem is it's going to be right into the mess of the wind, but when it starts to calm down (normally when you just started flipping your steaks), that's when you want to be casting big obnoxious patterns or slow lower profile presentations through those "deposit zones". They host a poor visibility rating for a short amount of time, but all sorts of resident food sources have been kicked up and swept together to reside in a new section of the lake's bottom.
I have always found one of two patterns work really well for me in these situations:
- Medium sized bright red flashy buggers with gold bead heads (or Little Fort Leeches), stripped quite quickly.
- #12 clear back pale yellow baggy shrimp (scud) patterns, slowly walking along the cloud & clear lines (normally 3-6 feet of water).
Lately, I have chosen a different anchor position than the regular front and backdrop, casting off the side of the boat. In the windy conditions greater than say 10kph, I try to drop my anchors bow (or sometimes stern) into the wind, releasing a good amount of scope (extra rope). As the boat slowly swings along in its new 'bitten destination', I have the back anchor completely ready to deploy. Just when the boat is approaching the desired casting spot (just before), I release the stern anchor quickly down and try not to let any more than a few extra feet. The reason being is that you don't want too much swing. Clearing the floor of obstruction (paddles, fly boxes, beer etc) is important for where your stripped line will land (as per normal).
In general, big wind storms and substantial jumps in conditions and clarity "stir the pot" so to speak. Feeding zones can change rapidly. Temperatures mix in the shallows and the normal thermocline settings can and will readjust. It's a good time to have a look at the lake and watch where the waves are ending up. Where the little microcurrents are leading to, and most of all where you will be able to fish.
Brent Gill | The Douglas Lake Ranch.