Live now : Walmart FLW Tour 2016 Lake Okeechobee

It’s a breeze

Pro Dion Hibdon fishes in the wind.

Editor's note: This article is from FLW Bass Fishing magazine, offering tips, techniques and tackle reviews for anglers of all skill levels plus in-depth features on the pros of the sport.

Here's a riddle: What do we curse in the spring and fall but wish for in the summer?

Answer: wind.

We can't see it, but anglers sure can feel even the slightest hint of wind while out on an open expanse of water. In the summer we beg for the wind to blow, even just a breeze to shake off the humidity and cool our skin. In the seasons before and after summer, however, wind can be an angler's bane. It muddies already turbulent waters, makes it hard to sight-fish and sends casts off-target in the spring. In the fall, the wind packs a chill that requires layering up even when the skies are sunny.

On the flip side, the wind can be a fisherman's best ally when it comes to helping position bass on structure and cover. While bass can't feel a gust of wind underneath the water, they can feel and see what the gust does to the water. Often, it provides an advantage over prey, sending bass into feeding mode.

"The wind is definitely your friend, no matter what time of year," says Chevy pro Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo. "It can play a strong role in spring, but in autumn I believe you really have to pay attention to the wind. By October it's really important because bass are feeding so heavily on shad. The only time I cuss the wind is when I'm sight-fishing during the spawn."

So how do you make the wind your fishing pal? It takes a multistep approach of learning to read wind patterns, predicting bass feeding locations and mastering boat control. Learn those steps, and you'll come to appreciate those occasional gusty days.

Ringing the dinner bell

You might remember the times when you peered through a microscope in science class and saw odd-shaped organisms swimming around. What you were looking at were single-celled organisms called zooplankton and phytoplankton - the basis for the food chain in the underwater world.

Technically, phytoplankton are the base, since zooplankton eat them. The next link in the chain is shad, which eat zooplankton. This is important to note because almost all phytoplankton use sunlight to create energy, so therefore they will be in the upper portion of the water column that is illuminated by the sun. Much like bass follow the shad, shad follow the zooplankton, which will follow the phytoplankton, positioning them all high in the water column. This explains why schooling activity on the surface can happen just about anywhere.

But you might be asking what this information has to do with the wind. When the wind stirs the water, the entire food chain is moved about. Phytoplankton get tossed around, causing zooplankton to go on the feed, which in turn rings the dinner bell for shad. You can guess who else gets in on the feeding frenzy.

"The wind can help whether you're fishing shallow or deep," says pro Ray Scheide of Dover, Ark. "In shallow areas, it can position the baitfish and push everything closer to shore. If it blows overnight - depending on the direction - the banks it's been blowing on will have more bait on them."

Reading the wind

When the wind blows on a lake, it's going to pass over one area and create a disturbance at another.

If the wind is coming out of the south, the north banks will be affected, or vice versa when the wind comes out of the north. However, even protected coves or creeks can experience a "push" of water into them if the wind is strong enough and from the right direction. This creates a natural current that can even create small eddies around points at the mouth of a creek or cove. And where there is current, nearby bass will flock to it. A prime example is a windblown point.

"On reservoirs in summer that might not have constant current, the wind-generated current is just as important as a dam that creates current," Scheide says. "Typically, your best points will have deep water or a channel swing nearby that the fish are relating to when they're not in a feeding mode. But they won't have to travel too far to that point to feed.

"When conditions are right and the wind blows across or into a point, they'll move up and eat. They don't want to travel a quarter-mile to eat. That's why you want to get a series of points you can run to and can pick off one or two, or maybe a school if they're bunched up. If the wind's blowing hard and then quits, the current can reverse itself and the fish will reposition."

Depending on the direction the wind is blowing or might blow, Hibdon can pinpoint with near bull's-eye accuracy where the bass will be positioned. Often, it's important to look for the little pieces of cover or structure that redirect the current and draw in the fish.

Control in a big blow

Wind can create opportunities on offshore structure by more acutely positioning bass on points or other prominent structure, which means that dialing in on that sweet spot is critical. However, positioning can be more difficult to accomplish than it might seem.

"Wind can make it harder on the fisherman than the fish to stay lined up correctly," Scheide says.

Wave action can push and bob the bow of the boat, which, for instance, makes it hard to stay on a small indent on a point where the bass and shad are congregating. A trick is to point the boat dead into the wind so the wave slap isn't as bad and the boat's hull does what it's supposed to do by splitting the waves and providing some stability.

Also, be mindful of how the wind affects the fishing line between the boat and the target.

"If you can eliminate the big swag in the line caused by the wind, you can feel the fish better when it bites," Hibdon says. "There are a lot of times when the fish will just come up and barely get it, and if you have a big bow in the line you'll miss it. Other times they'll come up behind a (moving) lure and it just quits moving. Typically that's a big fish that has pushed the bait or eaten it, and if you have a bow in the line you'll miss it."

Of course, optimum positioning in wind presents another problem: casting into the wind.

Avoid the upside

Casting into the wind can be brutally frustrating at times because it can throw a lure off target and cause backlashes. However, it's often necessary, especially if fishing away from the bank.

Bass face into the current, even when it's generated by wind. That means a lure that was cast with the wind is going to travel away from a bass instead of traveling toward it, as it would if the lure was cast into the wind. The difference might not seem like much, but think about it in terms of catching a football. If it's thrown to you when your back is turned, you have a split second to react to it once it passes overhead and comes into view. If you're facing the quarterback when he throws the ball, you have much more time to position yourself to catch it.

"You don't want to ambush a fish and come from behind him," Hibdon says. "He might swipe at it and miss it. When he faces the current he's more efficient."

Casting into the wind is also critical when targeting cover such as docks, where bass have the luxury of relating to the dock posts or floats.

"If you get a little breeze then it's a no-brainer because they're facing the wind," Hibdon says. "You just have to put your bait in front of them in the same manner: in front of their face. A little wind just narrows down where you have to fish. You don't even have to fish the entire dock. It's not that difficult, if you don't make it difficult."
Breezy baits
Lure selection

Because wind stirs up everything - it turns on the shad and subsequently gets bass fired up - it's better to present lures at high speed in breezy conditions.

In shallow, wind-churned areas, Scheide automatically picks up a buzzbait, shallow-running crankbait or spinnerbait. He might swim a jig, too, keeping it higher in the water column to mimic a shad zipping along.

"A buzzbait, crankbait and spinnerbait are going to be my first choices, and they will be shad-colored," he says. "If I'm out deeper, then I'm going to go with a crankbait or a deeper, heavier spinnerbait in 3/4 or 1 ounce to bounce along the bottom. There are times when color has mattered, but I believe most of the time it's where you throw it that counts. In dirtier water I'll go with brighter colors, and in clear water I'll stick with more natural colors."

As Scheide notes, windy conditions also affect the species you want to imitate.

"If you get a good, hard breeze, the bass are going to go to the shad and the bite will be much better," Hibdon says. "So if I'm fishing docks, instead of pitching jigs, I might throw a spinnerbait, [Zoom] Fluke or something that is more shad-oriented. As soon as the wind kicks up, the fish are thinking it's a good time to eat shad."

Smoke, white and gray are great colors for mimicking shad, as are patterns with "shad" in the title. When snags are a problem, you can also break out swimbaits rigged weedless. Hibdon has added a 5-inch Luck "E" Strike Bass Magic Swimbait to his dock-fishing arsenal because it accurately mimics a shad and can be fished around cover without fear of snagging.

Making a move

While wind can be a boon, it can also cause a bust. On sprawling reservoirs, Hibdon has seen the wind shift so quickly that everything he was doing falls apart.

That's when he knows it's time for a change, and he doesn't hesitate.

"When the wind changes suddenly, you have to change what you're doing," he says. "That's what most of those guys on stage at weigh-ins are talking about when they say they had to make an adjustment. You know if it was blowing in one direction and then shifted, the fish are going to change and you have to do it, too."

Solving the wind riddle is never easy, but the answer can lead to tournament treasure.
Drift sock

Put a sock in it
Drift socks are commonly used on the Great Lakes to slow the drift of a boat, but they shouldn't be overlooked on other waterways throughout the country.

Available in different sizes, the pyramid-shaped socks attach to the boat cleats and fill with water. This extra drag can slow the drift and help keep the boat positioned better.

"There definitely are times when I'm fishing offshore in practice and looking for key features or even subtle ones on a big flat when a sock can help," says pro Ray Scheide. "If the wind's blowing me along but I'm focused on finding some subtle points or something else, I might put on one or two."

Tags: alan-clemons  magazine-features 


An Ill Wind at Okeechobee?

The wind can be a bass fisherman’s best friend or worst enemy. On its best behavior, it creates a temporary current, positions baitfish and helps an angler move around more stealthily in shallow water. READ MORE »


Aquatic Plant ID

Val Osinski, the owner of Gambler Lures and winner of the 2015 Costa FLW Series event on the lake, knows as much about the Big O as anyone and is an expert on finding and targeting bass in its various grasses. When we had the opportunity to ride along with him for a tour of the lake and to learn to identify some of the grasses, it was a no-brainer to accept. READ MORE »


Poche Services Set

Funeral services for Dylan Poche, the 18-year-old Bass Fishing League angler who was stabbed to death Saturday night, are scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. at Freedom Life Church in Natchitoches, La. Visitation will take place at Freedom Life beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday. READ MORE »


Time to Shine for Setzer

With three years on Tour and a Co-angler of the Year (COY) award under his belt, Braxton Setzer believes now is his time to start casting from the front. READ MORE »





Glenn Browne’s Timeout is Over

By his own admission, Glenn Browne isn’t the most organized guy. After the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division opener on Lake Okeechobee, he spent hours returning stuff to its proper place and tossing out the usual flotsam and jetsam that accumulates in a bass boat during a tournament. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 109 - Mike Surman



John Cox Gives Himself a Makeover

Last fall there was a rumor going around that John Cox was entering the electronics age and souping up his boat with sonar gear. Just to clear the air, the Florida pro reports that though he did flirt with the notion of incorporating an offshore strategy centered on depth finders into his act, he eventually abandoned the idea. READ MORE »


Austin Felix is Ready for the Big Time

Back in the spring of 2014, Austin Felix and his University of Minnesota teammate Chris Burgan were on the top of the FLW College Fishing world. With a win in the National Championship on Lake Keowee, Felix was headed to the Forrest Wood Cup as a pro. READ MORE »


FLW Canada Sets Tournament Sites, Dates

FLW Canada, one of four partners in FLW’s International Division of the Costa FLW Series, recently released its 2016 tournament schedule. The season includes three two-day regular-season qualifying events and a three-day championship. Anglers fish as two-person teams. READ MORE »


Jigging Spoons for Winter Bass

Of course, the application of the spoon hinges on finding bass in the first place, which is the biggest challenge. Walmart FLW Tour pros Jason Johnson and Clark Reehm are experts at finding winter bass in their respective regions of the country and offer FLW readers some advice on where to look and how to get them to bite the spoon. READ MORE »


How Bryan Thrift Got to be so Good

My No. 1 focus out here is to support my family and make a living. Whatever I have to do to make that happen, I’m going to make a valiant effort. READ MORE »


High School Fishing Makes the Grade

Jacob Smith and Daniel Clark are typical teenagers, at least in everything except bass fishing. In that, they are above average, as the two juniors from Travelers Rest High School in South Carolina proved in the TBF/FLW High School Fishing Florida Open held Jan. 17 on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »


FLW Mexico at the Starting Gate

Our excitement is so great that we wanted to share this important news with all of you. Believe me, fishermen in Mexico are talking it up as if it were dock talk surrounding the Forrest Wood Cup. What really matters at the end of the line is knowing that FLW is showing its true devotion to promoting bass fishing and making it a truly international sport. READ MORE »


Making the Case for Haynes as AOY

As many have noted, the Walmart FLW Tour schedule for this season looks a lot like it did in 2014. Back then, in his sophomore year on Tour, Randy Haynes had one of the strangest seasons you’ll ever see. He finished 104th at Okeechobee, 149th at Sam Rayburn (ouch) and cranked out top-30 finishes everywhere else. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 108 - Jason Lambert



BFL Choo Choo Division Postponed

The FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Choo Choo Division tournament on Lake Guntersville originally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 23 has been postponed due to impending inclement weather. READ MORE »


TIGERODZ Aligns With Auburn Team

Custom fishing rod manufacturer TIGERODZ of Scottsboro, Ala., has signed an agreement to become the official rod brand for the Auburn University Bass Sports Club. Scott Dobbins, president of TIGERODZ, is an Auburn alum, and he says the pairing involved a natural progression of involvement. READ MORE »


Becoming Aware of Your Angler Strengths

The ongoing sentiment among fishermen is that versatility is the key to becoming a successful professional angler. While I’m certain that statement holds some weight, I think there is an alternate perspective that is worth entertaining. READ MORE »


Pundits Picks for AOY

Winning the Angler of the Year title is a tremendous feat. It can solidify a budding career or affirm a veteran’s status among the best. It also comes with a hefty reward – $100,000 and early entry into the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup. READ MORE »