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Snotty weather

1741 Views 12 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  RayStachelek
So much of success in fishing is being in the right place at the right time. Last season, I came to hold a deep seated belief (perhaps unjustified) that the right time was when the weather turned gloomy. The snottier the weather, the better the fishing seemed to be for me. I caught my first keeper of the year in the pissing rain on a stormy night in May with a steady 25 mph wind out of the East.

Jen thought I was absolutely nuts to be heading out, but there I was down at my favorite honey hole with a giant lightening rod in my hands, defying the weather gods to turn me away. On my third cast of an olive over silver beach glass minnow - bam! big fish and several more immediately after it. That single event shaped the rest of the season for me. I no longer let the weather deter me from fishing.

Dr. Ross says in his book the idea that bad weather excites fish has some merit. Winds blow plankton in from off shore and churning seas oxygenate the water and stir up nutrients and the combined effect can bring baitfish out of a previous stupor and in turn make the game fish turn on. Makes sense.

We've talked about weather before and I know some of you swear that low pressure is like bananas on a boat -- might as well do chores around the house when the barometer plummets.

How about the rest of you? When's the right time to head out to find the right place?
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Good topic.

I am definitely of the low pressure, or dropping barometric pressure == good fishing camp. This applies to a range of scenarios including stripers. It also makes migratory fish move, which may bode well for those who intercept moving fish but badly for those expecting fish to be in a certain spot. I have also had some incredible days when the weather is pure snot. Part of the reason is the cover of dark skies and the infusion of rain IMHO.

Conversely, high stable pressure and bluebird skies require more tact, like the point rip for instance. The fish still have to eat but they will key on very distinct stimuli like a specific exchange of one body of water against another, current speeds that render bait helpless, etc. We're lucky that stripers can be had by those who untangle the intricacies of the tide phases, bait patterns, and other behaviors even in the brightest sunshine summer days.

The one condition I recommend against in striper fishing is flats fishing in inclement weather. Bill Littlewood will remember an exhilarating - yet potentially deadly day nearly a mile off shore on the Brewster Flats during a sudden lightning storm. It was essentially the longest, most tiring run of my life through knee deep water as the horizontal rain whipped our faces, the sky turned black and the water began to glow. Booming arches of static electricity leaped from the water around us as we fought our way back to the beach like littel boys trying to outrun a train. Exhilarating - but I never need to do that again.
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This opens up the door to the boat vs shore issues as well. Snotty weather will keep most of the smaller craft 'hopefully' safe at home and often means the angler doesn't make the effort to shift into shore mode. For flyfishing it also can mean that the open beaches become unfishable with the long rod. (Heck, I still have trouble with the surf on calm nights!) But, that doesn't discount the experiences that indicate there's good fishing to be had before and at the beginning of a period of bad weather. Onshore winds drive bait, oxygenate the nearbeach waters and perhaps the reduduced visability makes the fish less cautious as they cruise the edges.

For me the question is where can I fish safely, effectivly when the weather is building? From a practical standpoint it often means that the 8'6" lightweight conventional comes down from the basement ceiling with a surfbag of tin lures. One memory comes to mind specificly of a day in Sept/Oct when the winds were ripping from the ESE along Duxbury beach, rain getting driven through the storm flap of my jacket and standing in this one cove all alone while fish pounded each Kastmaster that made it to the edge of the rockpiles.

Fall run activity or pre-storm opportunists?
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I had some of my best days last summer when everyone with any sense was at home out of the rain.

One such day was in late june, I had made plans to meet a friend to fish Popham beach at the mouth of the Kennebec. We had arranged to meet at a gas station in Bath at 4AM, and having just moved into new apartments after graduating from college, neither one of us had phone service yet. The night before the weather was terrible, pouring rain that was falling just about sideways because of the wind. Since we couldn't get in touch to cancel we both showed up at the gas station and decided to give it a shot.
When we finally got rigged up and down onto the beach the wind was blowing so hard onshore that it was hard to look at the ocean for the raindrops hitting you in the eyes. We both made a couple of halfhearted casts into the surf before deciding it was futile. Walking back along the riverbank to the parking lot I thought I saw a splash in the river that didn't fit with the pattern of rain hitting the water. My first exploratory cast produced nothing and I was ready to pack it in when i heard my friend yell "Fish On!" The fish were holding on the far side of a sandbar and I hadn't cast quite far enough on that first cast, luckily my friend had laid out a couple more feet of line.
For the next 3 or 4 hours we were into fish on almost every cast. Bright, fresh schoolies in the 20-28" range that made us completely forget that it was raining sideways.

Whenever I start to consider staying home on a rainy day I just have to think of that morning for the motivation I need to get out there.

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Have done my best in cloudy or rainy days.. particularly at the Lighthouse in Chatham... but two years ago at Ridgevale Beach, a usually crowded beach on sunny days and would never fish even at isolated points on such day ,I did catch Two keepers (34" and 37") on successive rainy days wading out to the sand bar at the oulet of Buck's creek. I had really gone down to practice casting and both fish were isolated events in that I had been blind casting for about 2 hours each day, (practicing various casts and targeting drifting objects for accuracy),before the hits.
Always a fascinating topic. Unfortunately, my personal anecdotal evidence runs all over the place. As Juro pointed out, I love to fish on dark days when less light may stimulate less wary feeding. A good chop or some rain can really add to that. But then, there were the Boston experiences from this past summer where the storms typically were coming out of the northeast, infusing more coldwater into an already unusually colder inshore environment. No pun intended, but this usually had a chilling effect on the fishing. Switch that to heavy SW wind, and just as Bob said, I could count on bigger than normal fish sitting sometimes within feet of shore of the SW-facing islands waiting for good stuff to blow their way ("cruising the edges"). Maybe it blew bait out of the estuaries along with warmer water...?

As an aside, I lost one of my bigger fish of last year testing out that theory--casting with an offshore wind blowing onshore to a harbor island, hooked a beauty within a foot of the shore in the little trough that developed from the waves; as the fish screamed off line I completely failed to consider that my boat was being blown on shore at a frightening pace--emergency evasive mauvers saved the boat and prop but lost the fish. Doh.

p.s. please avoid waiving 9' lightning wands when there is lots of static electricity in the air!
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How about after a big blow? The fishing always seems to die for at least a few days. Reasons?

Turbidity of the water? Gluttony during the bout of "pure snot" killing the bite?

On the turbidity question, I wonder if switching to flies that are light on top and dark on the bottom would improve success for in-shore locations? Dark against a dark(er) background will tend to become invisibile while the bottom will stand out. Most of the flies we tie attempt to the give opposite contrast. Something to experiment with this season: keep a white over olive deceiver with you and give it a try if you find yourself fishing in murky water. (Let me know how you do ;)
Al -

Inversion patterns, your pulling out all the stops now. That theory hasn't been talked about in a lone time. Love the way Al and others are systematical improving their angling prowess and analytical thinking regarding fish behavior and their envirnoment. You guys are taking quantum leaps in your fishing knowledge and tying skills.

Can a book in the future be that far a reach?

Fishing Tip -

There is a way to produce an inversion type fly with opposite color schemes right on the beach without actually tying one. Can anyone guess how?
Maybe the bite is off after a big blow because the fish follow the blow out of town?

Bend it back then rig it upside down?
I regularly produce flies that can be inverted. For some reason I can't "lock" the heads in place so with minimal effort I can just grip the head and spin the whole thing around.
If one were so inclined, pop the eyes off a clouser.

Although I agree it's thought provoking and innovative (definitely worth a try) my approach is to vary subtle shades of very realistic color schemes in flies slightly, and instead vary the location, presentation (fly placement and action), and other factors that surround the fly a lot.

I am one of these boring striper types who would be happy with a dozen patterns in my box on any given day. They would have to be the right dozen for that day though.

I feel the same way about bonefishing flies, and I assume tarpon would be the same. For trout, salmon, steelhead I want as many flies as I can carry in my vest. For largemouth I'd say you could go with a half-dozen patterns all all year. For smallmouth a different half dozen but same number of flies.

Carp? That one green giant pattern should do it. Ho,ho,ho.
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Juro's solution of removing the hour glass eyes is what I was aluding too.

Pretty clever Greg. Never gave that any thought at all. I forgot the beginner days of fly tying when materials would spin on the hook. That seems like the simplest solution of all. Can do that with almost any pattern too without the use of tools. Doesn't destroy the fly either, especially when your fishing a distance from your car.

Jen - Great idea also making it weedless! Are you thinking along the same lines as Greg, rotating the material?
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