Written by: Eric Fey
Don’t let a rainy day keep you off of the water. As you may have noticed, the fish don’t seem to mind getting wet and neither should you. Now safety should always be the primary concern. Be mindful of any thunderstorms in the area and leave yourself plenty of time to get back to the launch should you see lightning headed your way. Keep in mind that as the weather takes a turn for the worst, the wind will often pick up making the paddle back to the launch a little tougher. It is even a good idea to carry a VHF radio so that you can listen in on the NOAA weather broadcast and have the ability to communicate with the Coast Guard should your situation become dire. All that being said, if you are a weekend warrior who only gets one Saturday here and there to hit the water, don’t let a bad forecast deter you.
While the typical patterns of fish may change during fronts or impending storms, I can assure you that they do not stop eating. Some species are a little more predictable than others. I took to the waters of Delacroix, Louisiana this past Saturday to chase after some big redfish. The weatherman predicted a cloudy morning with temperatures in the low 50’s and winds in the 12-15 mph range. Since I knew I would most likely end up wet and cold, I slapped on some wool base layers. Cotton is a terrible material for trapping body heat, especially when wet. For more information on the wonders of wool come talk to the crew at The Backpacker. No one has tested that particular material more than those who frequent the backcountry.
Since the weatherman wasn’t calling for thunderstorms, I peddled out in the Hobie Pro Angler 14 with the intention of quickly returning should I spot lightning in the distance. As we roll into the winter months the water turns crystal clear and sight fishing is possible even without full sun. In fact, almost every redfish that I caught was first spotted within about 20 feet of the kayak. Kayaks are perfect for fishing the shallows of the Louisiana marsh and the clear winter water is an excellent compliment. One or two of the redfish were nose down in the mud trying to uproot their next meal. I could see their tails waving around like a flag signaling to me where my next cast should be. In this instance, I would just throw whatever lure I had tied on just a few feet past the fish. I would drag the lure about 6 inches in front of its nose and more often than not, the fish would jump all over it. Some of the reds were cruising through the underwater vegetation presumably to feed, but perhaps just to relocate. These were a little more tricky. Soft plastic swim baits or spoons are the favorite in this particular situation. Again I would cast the bait a few feet past the anticipated path of the fish. This time I had to time it perfectly so that the bait would pass the fish at the same 6 inch distance while the fish was on the move. Sometimes that required letting the bait sit before reeling while other times I had to pick up line quickly before slowing the bait down in the strike zone. Other times I would have to pick up the bait completely and recast if the fish changed direction. But again, if the timing was right and the lure was at the same height in the water column as the fish, they would never pass up the opportunity for an easy meal.
Sure I got wet, and at times a little chilly as well. I never said that fishing in the cold rain would be comfortable. I am saying however, that you will never catch fish from the couch at home. Every once in awhile you should be ok with trading a little comfort for a great day on the water. Just be sure that you take your safety seriously. Always wear a PFD and let someone know what your fish plan is. Be mindful of how the weather is changing and get off the water should lightening start popping up. Wear the proper clothing that will keep you warm and that will dry out as soon as possible once the rain stops. Maybe even bring a VHF radio or cell phone in a waterproof bag just in case you get into real trouble. Here is a video that I made from my trip this weekend. I hope you enjoy and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask me directly or the folks at The Backpacker. If you are new to the sport, or looking to get started, come drop in. They’ve got everything you could need to get you on the water and catching fish!
Eric Fey is a new member of the Hobie Fishing Team and Team Backpacker.