If you don’t have the right boat, stay at home. There is no sense in risking all for the sake of a good bite, but if you do choose to keep your feet on dry land, you’ll be missing a stellar battle.
My advice? Find a buddy who has a big-water rig and take full advantage.
During a recent trip out east, I had an opportunity to fish with Jeff Draper and Frank Campbell, who are renown fishing guides on the Lower Niagara River, where giant bronze—among other species—swim in great size and numbers.
Where the Lower Niagara dumps into Lake Ontario can be one of the finest locations in the East for big smallies, fish pushing the 7-pound mark with regularity. But, when there’s a substantial northeasterly blow, the bite often picks up—so do the waves. Four to 6 footers are normal, and dangerous if you haven’t navigated big water before. Call Frank or Jeff if your looking into a trip, the first time they can help you understand how important boat control can be.
Why does the wind make the fish bite? That’s a tough one to answer adequately, but in my opinion it rejuvenates the oxygen in the water, stirs up the entire food chain from plankton all the way up to the apex predators in the system. Activity just seems to increase.
When it’s windy, you’ll want to upgrade your gear, heavier line, baits and rods—this will help you keep contact with the bottom. In this case, the invasive round goby is the primary food source for Great Lakes smallies making a large 4-inch tube with a 3/4- to 1-ounce tube jig head the right bait. Drag it along the bottom and hang on.
Wind doesn’t just stir up Great Lakes brown bass, rather any time you can adequately manage structure with your boat in bigger waves, smallmouth bass will eat with ferocity. Keep that in mind next time you’re watching the game instead of casting.