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JACK WOLLITZ Many factors affect angling



Published: Fri, January 25, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Savvy anglers know that they really understand only a fraction of what is going on under the water. Add factors created by the weather above the surface and you come up with a seemingly complex equation.

Take, for instance, the big bass tournament that occurred last week on Lake Okeechobee, with most of the top bass fishing professionals competing. What they encountered at the FLW event at Florida's Big "O" left many of them perplexed.

Catching fish was not the problem, as most of the field managed to bag limits during the first two days of the four-day tournament. But the bigger fish -- the ones that add zeroes to pro anglers' paychecks -- were in a "here today, gone tomorrow" mood.

Shaking his head: Larry Nixon of Arkansas was one of those shaking his head when the scales dried Thursday. He collected more than 14 pounds on Wednesday, but sacked just 7 pounds Thursday.

He told a reporter for BassFan.com that the wind played a big role in his misfortune. It shifted and muddied his fishing hole.

Reigning world champion Kevin VanDam of Michigan was another mystified angler. After catching a limit Wednesday, he started Thursday bite-free until 11 a.m.

VanDam told BassFan.com's reporter that the wind also blew him a curve ball.

When world-class anglers like Nixon and VanDam are buffaloed by an ill wind, how can weekend fishermen expect to figure it out?

Deal with it: The answer is to become a student of what the wind tends to do to the water on your favorite lake. It is important to recognize that it isn't the wind itself that affects fishing. Rather, it's how and where the wind moves the water.

One breezy day last June at Evans Lake, I found a gang of three-pound largemouths simply by using the wind as my guide. The bass moved into shoreline cover that enabled them to lurk unseen with their noses pointed into the wind-generated current.

The biggest fish pushed their way to the prime spots - little points along a cattail edge. And they were ready, willing and able to slam my white spinnerbait as it clipped the stalks of the vegetation.

Wind and water: Key factors were the direction of the wind (blowing right into the cover, enabling the fish to face outward) and the relatively clear water (the silt had not yet become riled too much to spoil visibility).

Had the wind been blowing another direction, my spot would have been a dud. Had the wind been blowing long enough to stir up mud, I would have had to find another location.

Next time the wind blows on your fishing trip, don't despair. Learn how the breeze positions the fish -- or how it forces them to move to more comfortable parts of the lake -- and adjust your tactics to catch fish.

jwollitz@shermanassoc.com




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