The following piece was submitted by industry rep Alan McGuckin, who's on the scene at the Table Rock Lake Bassmaster Elite Series this week.
After B.A.S.S. officials purposely hurried through weigh-in to outpace another dangerous fast approaching storm, Elite Series pros Britt Myers, Gerald Swindle and Terry Scroggins rushed to prepare tackle and watch the weather radar together at a house they’re sharing near Blue Eye, Mo., along Table Rock Lake’s shoreline.
As much as discussion centered on the importance of getting one good bite to separate yourself from the super-tight pack of 10- to 13-pound limits, wise minds were on the weather.
Rightfully so, because while Myers, Swindle and Scroggins chewed on the cheeseburgers that Gerald’s wife, LeAnn, had grilled for them, warm, humid, 75-degree air was violently being replaced by the 40-degree air and gusty north breezes that are greeting them on Day 2 at Table Rock.
“Is the weather gonna hurt you or help you tomorrow" was the $100,000 question posed by emcee Dave Mercer at one point during the Day 1 weigh-in, and frankly it may be the single most important factor that affects anglers of all levels, no matter the entry fee they pay or even the species they pursue.
“Rain, hail, wind, heavy clouds, lightning, and sunshine – oh, it was a great day for fishing,” Swindle quipped before graciously offering advice on how anglers need to adapt to ever-changing weather conditions that are so prevalent at this time of year.
Below is a quick primer on fishing in rapidly-changing conditions in the spring:
When Warm Air is Replaced by Much Colder Temps
Swindle: “No matter if the air temp is rising or falling, you better be paying attention to the wind direction. In other words, if it’s gusting from the north instead of the south, plan on fishing the shoreline opposite of what you did the day before.
"Way too many anglers make the mistake of going right back to the same stretch of shoreline they caught ‘em on yesterday – and if the wind ain’t there – you’re probably not going to catch ‘em.”
Swindle adds that the presence of wind is absolutely critical to getting bit on clear water lakes like Table Rock.
Clouds vs. Sun
Swindle: “When clouds are replaced by sun, you need to be making tighter casts. Sun is going to push bass tighter to the bluff walls, tighter to the boat dock, tighter to that boulder, tighter to that laydown – and you better be making casts that are precise enough to put your lure in those tight places because the bass are far less likely to run out and chase a lackadaisical cast like you might have scored with under clouds the previous day.”
When the Wind Stops Blowing
While Swindle warns to chase the wind, especially on a clear water reservoir, sometimes there’s very little wind to chase, and that’s when his Scroggins reaches for a spinning reel.
“If it slicks off, you’d better be picking up that shaky head, drop shot or stuffing a 1/4-ounce shaky head inside a tube or Gitzit,” says Scroggins.
What to do when Storms Bring Lightning and High Winds
Myers still speaks with a tone of fear and humility from memories of high wind waves that once took away his bravado and outboard motor.
“The winds got so big at a BFL tournament I fished years ago on Santee Cooper that the pounding jerked my outboard off the boat. It was hanging by the cables,” he recalled.
Added Swindle, “You wanna fish like a pro? Then use the common sense the good Lord gave you and seek shelter when huge winds and lightning roll in. I’d sure hate to get killed by lightning on Friday, knowing that I had a chance to go fishing Saturday and Sunday.”