Making the Most of Heavy Winds | Louisiana Fishing Blog
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Making the Most of Heavy Winds

Strong winds from any direction can spell doom for a fishing trip, but there are things you can do to adapt. Read on and learn how to battle tough winds.

How to Fish in Heavy Winds

High winds are difficult to fish in!

They deny access to larger bodies of water, make casting difficult and can beat the hell out of you, your boat and your equipment.

To be clear, this article is not about fishing a west wind. That’s already covered that in How to Fish a West Wind.

This article’s focus is on dealing with the effects of a strong wind from any direction.

What exactly is a strong wind for inshore fishing?

In the realm of inshore fishing, a 15-20 knot wind or higher is generally considered to be a tough wind to fish in.

This is not a text book “gale force” wind but is usually strong enough for NOAA to issue a small craft advisory.

NOAA Marine Forecast Small Craft Advisory

What makes a strong wind so bad?

A strong wind makes fishing difficult for a variety of reasons. For starters, it is difficult to fan cast.

Remember when scouting for fish using the Louisiana Hustle you want to fan cast around the spot you are fishing to check for hungry trout or reds.

It’s easy to cast with the wind to your back, more difficult with it blowing on your side and downright frustrating casting straight into it.

Casting into a heavy wind creates wind knots, backlashes and more that negatively impact your effectiveness.

Is there anything good about a strong wind?

There is a silver lining to this dark cloud:

  • no bugs (gnats, horseflies, mosquitoes, etc.)
  • will move water during neap tide
  • long distance casting (when blowing against your back)
  • fair-weather fishermen stay home (leaving more marsh for you)

Keep this in mind:

If you are truly fishing smarter, those high winds will not keep you from catching fish.

How to prepare your tackle for a strong wind

Most anglers in Louisiana use the Inshore Rig or something similar. It’s simple and it works

You can easily outfit an Inshore Rig to deal with strong wind by putting on a weighted cork.

VersaMaxx coastal fishing corks are great for this purpose, since the weight inside them is adjustable.

Make the cork heavy enough to be launched through wind like a cannonball.

inshore rig versamaxx popping cork speckled trout redfish

Inshore Rig mated with a Versamaxx popping cork

Drop shot rigs and slip corks are a good application, too. Drop shot rigs lead through the air by the sinker and don’t tangle as easily.

Spinning Tackle in Heavy Wind

Some braided fishing line is a nightmare in heavy wind, especially in comparison to monofilament and fluorocarbon, both of which don’t tend to fold over onto themselves.

Braided line performs best on spinning tackle when there is no twist in it, but even when spooled correctly, it can become twisted from use over time.

You should see how to remove twist from braided line to eliminate tangles from wind knots.

Casting Tackle in Heavy Wind

Try cranking down on the spool tension knob and braking system in order to prevent line overrun.

There is no set formula for this, so experiment to learn what works best for you and keep making quality casts without getting backlash.

To learn more about baitcasters and their braking systems, check out How to Select a Great Inshore Baitcaster.

Of course, you can always use better casting techniques!

Instead of using an overhead cast, try swinging the rod more like a golf club to keep the bait flying low across the water, where the wind can’t grab it.

Find a Less Windy Spot

Being equipped to battle strong wind may not be enough, so you have to find a “less windy” location.

This may sound nuts to you, but it is what separates the everyday fisherman from an angler.

Seriously, find a spot where the wind is not blowing as hard.

It’s better than duking it out in a hard blowing wind at your favorite fishing spot.

So what are some “less windy” spots?

The marsh in Louisiana is constituted mostly of spartina grass, which is low lying and doesn’t do much to stop wind.

In fact, there are few places in the marsh that have anything higher than spartina grass and it is those places you want to consider fishing.

Hide Behind Spoil

A glance at satellite imagery using Google Earth reveals man-made canals criss-crossing the marsh.

These canals usually have “spoil”, or piles of dirt, built up on each side that will protect you from the wind.

This spoil was created when soil was removed to make a waterway deeper or create a new one.

Not all dead end canals will have tall spoil, but some do and those that do will have varying spoil heights.

protected water lee canal windy conditions

As long as the wind is not blowing straight down the canal, you will have protected water to fish.

I talk a lot about the great fishing of the MRGO and its versatility, especially south of the Rock Dam.

The southwest shoreline of the MRGO has really tall spoil.

It is so tall that you can completely get out of 15 knot winds from the south, west and soutwest to hammer redfish in perfectly smooth water.

MRGO Shoreline roseau cane spoil tall embankment

The MRGO has tall spoil vegetation has grown on over the years, allowing for a break from strong southwest wind. The tall spoil allows for calm water created by the “lee of the land.”

Hide Behind Buildings

Tall structure is good for hiding from tough winds.

Man-made structures like natural gas platforms, docks and levees are a great example, but so is natural structure like roseau cane, which is found throughout the marsh, especially in places like Venice.

great wall of chalmette ICW MRGO

The Great Wall of Chalmette, often referred to as “The Wall”, is a flood wall that serves as an excellent break against a vicious wind.

Finding a Less Windy Route

You should avoid every open body of water and take the smaller, more “protected” bodies of water instead.

This makes for a longer trip, but will mean a safer and more comfortable trip.

For example, if you wanted to fish the Biloxi Marsh from Breton Sound Marina, you would not take Lake Borgne to get there, especially if the wind is blowing from the west!

Instead, try running Bayou LaLoutre and run through Stump Lagoon to get there.

In some cases, you can use larger bodies of water to get from point A to point B, but you want to stay in the “lee of the land” and not get blasted by big waves.

lee windy land water chop waves

Four Horse Lake will be a bumpy ride in nasty winds, but the smaller bayous won’t. NOTE: When I refer to “lee water” I am really referring to the “lee of the land.”

Sometimes it is not enough and you will end up using straightaways aligned with the wind.

Conclusion

Use these tips to improve your angling skills and make the best of tough conditions on your day off.

About the Author Devin Denman

Devin is the founder of Louisiana Fishing Blog and enjoys exploring new fishing spots on Louisiana's coast. He prefers using artificial lures and casting tackle, but won't hesitate to break out a popping cork when the time is right.

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