Fishing with Capt. Gus: The Wind is Your Friend

Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures, Inc. was an outdoor columnist and full-time professional fishing guide on Lake Norman, NC. He passed away in April 2023 and is greatly missed. His memory lives on in his timeless advice columns as an expert angler.

Flowers are in bloom, and college basketball games occupy all the TVs at every sports bar. This can only mean one thing: It’s time to get back on the water in the Carolinas.

While the weather warms up, fishermen have already taken notice that the wind takes some time to die down. Though the summer brings still air, the windiest times of year in North Carolina are from February through the end of April, with the breezy season lasting well into May.

This is not a problem; in fact, wind activates fish and makes it easier to lure them to a hook.

Since fish do not have eyelids, they don’t squint like people do when the sun shines in their eyes. In order to shield their eyes from the brightness, fish seek shade and cover near objects above and below the surface — or they simply swim to deeper water on calm days. Conversely, on windy days, the ripples and waves help diffuse the sun’s rays and allow fish to see their prey much easier.

Captain Gus Gustafson

Agitated water created by strong winds gets fish moving; particularly forage fish that get stressed in rough water. Sensing this, bass and other predator fish are attracted to the area, and they dine on the hapless victims even when they’re not hungry. That’s why savvy anglers cast to the windward shore where the fish are active rather than to the calmer leeward side of a body of water.

Strong winds create waves that stir up the bottom and cloud the water. This turbulence makes an excellent place to hide from the sun and provides an ambush point from which forage fish can be snared. On days when the wind is high, mud lines form off clay points and often extend long distances offshore. In addition, the area around shoals becomes discolored, which provides another opportunity for fish to hide in.

There are lots of good reasons not to fish the windy side of a body of water. One is the difficulty in trying to keep your balance while casting and maneuvering the boat at the same time — not to mention dealing with backlashes or constantly working the trolling motor and taking on spray and water.

It is no wonder that so many opt to fish the calm side of the lake where fishing is easier, but catching them might not be quite as good. Here are some pointers for fishing on a windy day:

  • For optimum boat control, run the trolling motor into the wind.
  • To prevent the propeller from cavitating, set the trolling motor lower in the water.
  • To minimize hang-ups on docks and other above water structures, make shorter and lower casts.
  • To keep the line tight and reduce bowing while retrieving line, position the rod tip low to the water.
  • Don’t let backlashes ruin your fishing trip. Use heavier lures and/or tighten the tension on the spool of a bait casting reel. If black lashing (tangling) issues continue, switch to spinning tackle.
  • When practical, cast lures with the wind.
  • Wear your PFD while fishing.

When the wind begins to howl and causes the waves to rock the boat, keep telling yourself, “The wind is my friend.”

Read More: How to Catch Fish in April & May

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