How The Wind Can Affect Your Day On The Water Fishing

Wind direction and how it affects fishing

“Regardless of direction, give me wind over calm water anytime!”


Wind Is One Of The Most Important Factors When Chasing Success Fishing


One of the first rhymes a fisherman will learn goes like this…

If the wind’s out of the south, you can hook them in the mouth.

If the wind’s out of the west, they’ll bite the best.

If the wind’s out of the east, they’ll bite the least.


Now I never knew a good north rhyme, but most anglers would just say “stay home”.

While they do serve as good reference points, wind direction is just one of many variables that go into a successful fishing trip.  If I have a choice, regardless of direction, give me wind over calm water anytime!


Anytime You Have A Windy Cove, Some Fish Will Be Feeding


Wind has the same effect as sunrises and sunsets.  It helps produce waves which churns the water cutting down on light penetration.  

Also, an important natural phenomenon is happening.  Plankton are being herded into areas of the lake which brings shad and other baitfish into the fold…

Then the sport fish will herd the shad using contour breaks, flats, and bluff walls.

Without wind the plankton can scatter out in the middle causing a needle in a haystack scenario.


Fishing A South Wind


When winds are out of the south water temperatures are typically in a warming pattern and the weather tends to be more stable.  Fish will be feeding on and off throughout the day though mornings and evenings are still best.

If I’m looking at a midday bite then I’m hoping for stronger winds. 

I will concentrate on areas where the waves crash into the bank breaking free sediment and creatures into the water for easy pickings.


Fishing A West Wind


Regardless of the ole wise tale, west winds for me are always tricky.  I think they’re responsible for a lot of let downs when it comes to fishing.  Not because fish won’t bite but rather expectations are likely set too high.

The best fishing when it comes to west winds is a day or so before a front approaches.  The winds start blowing a little harder and clouds start forming in the skies darkening the water.  

Now the stronger the wind, the better the fishing will be, especially along an easterly shore.

If the winds are soft, then the first couple hours of daylight will be your prime window of opportunity.



Fishing An East Wind


Now we’ve come to that moment where fishermen who were planning a day out on the lake might turn on the weather channel just before embarking out, see that an easterly wind is up and suddenly shoot their confidence in half, or worse…Cancel their fishing trip!!!

Before you do this, we need to break down an east wind first…

Eastern winds are almost always associated with some sort of impending front or storm.  My grandfather would tell me to be a little leerier when a storm blew up out of the east because they’d be far stronger than your normal storms from the west.


Prefrontal Easterly Wind


There is no better time to have a rod and reel in hand, than a few hours before a storm is blowing in from the east.  When that happens, the barometer is due for a sudden drop ringing the dinner bell for all the fish in the lake. 

If you’re lucky and it’s the remanences of a hurricane or other major storm that will soon dissipate, you’ll likely get a long period of time where there will be a very light rain, or mist for hours on end. 

Once again, you will never find a better time to be fishing!

I find that calm banks work just as well as the windblown so, if possible, stick to the east side of the lake because a storm could beach you.


Frontal East Wind


Unless you’re fishing a tournament, please use discretion at this time.  Storms from the east are powerful but often yet quick to pass, so get to some cover and eat that sandwich you should’ve packed along!

If you must be out there the fish will still be biting well!


Post Frontal East Wind


There is a window of time after a front where the fish will still be biting well, but it likely won’t last long! 

The tell-tale sign is when you look out across the western sky and see that break line signaling clear skies are on the horizon.  To most folks, this is a welcome sign, but not experienced anglers.

Soon the skies will be crystal clear, the easterly winds will go calm, and it seems that you could run a cast net in the same place you were pulling fish out of just a few minutes ago, but now it’s a ghost town!

I believe this is where the misconception of “the winds out of the east, they bite the least” comes from.  Anglers decided to wait until after the storm passed and now the fishing is dead.

Trust me when I tell you, and east wind is truly your friend if you time it right!


Fishing Northernly Winds


North winds are a Jekyll and Hyde, when it comes to catching fish.  Northeast and Northwest winds have traditionally led to huge stringers in bass tournaments on my local waters.  I believe this has something to do with a lowering barometric pressure but can’t swear to it.  

But a straight north wind?  Well, this is the time when I say if you had more important things to do it’s best to tend to them and wait a day or so until the winds shift into a more favorable direction to catch fish.

If you’ve been looking forward to this day though don’t let anything bog you down.  Many fishermen have still caught their personal bests regardless of wind direction!



A little while back we covered sunny days vs. cloudy days and how it can impact a day on the water.  This article should help build upon that from my experiences.

Regardless of wind direction, I will always prefer at least some over none at all.  Yes, it can be a nuisance, but the benefits as far as fish biting outweigh the alternative!

Calm winds, while comfortable, allow light penetration into the water giving fish a much better look at your presentation.  Bigger fish have seen these tactics over the years and are likely not to fall for it. 

Also, calm winds seem to provide a resting phase for fish, where only a small percentage of them will want to feed decreasing your chances of success. 

Please though, if you’ve got a child that has their heart set on fishing on any particular day, never let wind dictate your decision.  My grandfather’s neighbor has a quote that trumps any wind cadence…

“If you don’t go, you don’t catch”



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