Wind is not the friend of kayak anglers, right? It’s more difficult to hold a position, paddle or pedal against and casting into a stiff breeze is a backlash waiting to happen. But there are two sides to the changing weather story and if it’s worth trying to go kayak fishing when the weather is uncomfortable and wind is whipping up waves.
Fish react to changes in weather patterns in either a negative or positive way. Knowing when fish will be more active due to weather changes can increase your kayak fishing results. There are a lot of success variables in kayak fishing; lures, selection of water to fish, knowing the structure of the lake you're on and where your targeted species will be while you’re fishing, discovering seasonal fish patterns and more. Your success on the water depends on luck – or all these combinations coming together, because you’ve made an educated decision that puts the odds in your favor.
Recently I messaged a friend, Todd Kewatt, and was looking to get out kayak fishing. We both like catching pike. I checked my usual resources online (Fishidy) for the pike activity forecast for local lakes. Fishidy predicted low pike activity. I checked the weather; winds were going to be up to 16 miles- per-hour from the southwest and rain was moving in after dusk. Todd is one of the hardest working guys in kayak fishing. I trusted him to pick the lake. He also doesn't hesitate to go out when a little weather is stirring things up. He messaged me the launch location for Medicine Lake in Maple Grove, MN. The launch is on the north end of the lake, we were going to plow through the waves and get to the south shore where we would be somewhat sheltered from the wind to fish some weed beds that had delivered fish for Todd on past outings.
On my way to the lake I got a message from Todd, “It’s really wavy out there." He was at the launch and could see what the 16 mile-per-hour winds were kicking up. I got to the launch and some guys in power boats were coming off the lake, one of them said, “It’s a little rough out there." But, both Todd and I have Hobie Pro Anglers and years of experience kayak fishing, so we launched, pedaled AND trolled our way through the waves to the south shore of the lake.
THE BITE WAS ON!
A little lure trial and error resulted in the verdict that the fish wanted lipless crank baits with rattles. At one point, Todd caught three pike in three casts. Our lipless crankbaits were getting pounded! We had bite-offs, bent and missing hooks from the fevered action. The question became, would we have enough lipless crankbaits to last until dark? As darker clouds moved our way, the bite increased. Todd scored a Minnesota species tri-fecta – a nice bass, a nice walleye and a nice pike (shown at top of this story). The fish knew dusk and weather was moving in, time to get active, eat and get ready to hunker down for looming bad weather.
The MONSTER PIKE that made my day!
The sun was going down and darker clouds were slowly moving in. I made a cast and started my retrieve…my line went tight and my lure wouldn’t move. I slammed my rod back and buried my lure's hooks into something that didn’t want to move. Both Todd and I'd had lots of follows by large pike who were chasing our lures to our kayaks through out the day. I knew one of them had just inhaled my lipless crankbait. I wrestled the large fish to my yak, landed it, got the obligatory brag pics and video, thanked her, released her and watched her swim away. That's an experience I never get tired of.
We didn’t let the weather prevent us from having a great day kayak fishing!
Beautiful, blue bird days usually aren’t the best fishing days. This day was overcast, rain showers were moving in and there was a brisk wind. The conditions were positive for an active fish bite even though they weren't ideal for comfortable, casual kayaking. Todd knew the lake and where to find fish. We both had Hobie Pro Angler Fishing Kayaks and the kayaking experience to handle the waves we encountered. Safety is the first rule at all times. If you don’t have the right kayak or experience, don’t push yourself or your equipment into an unsafe situation. I always wear a personal flotation device (pfd) and I advocate for you to do the same. I also encourage you to fish with someone else or other kayak anglers if the weather is rough. We can all watch out for each other. At the very least, let someone know where you'll be and the time you expect to be back. Understanding when weather conditions will drive the fish to bite and be active can produce some memorable kayak fishing.
Tight lines to you all!