If anglers everywhere were asked to choose the single factor that most affects where and how they fish, I’d bet the smart ones would pick weather. Sure, baitfish, structure, cover, time of year and other factors all play huge roles in deciding locations and presentations, but they all do so within the confines of what’s happening in the sky.
And actual fishing aside, the weather becomes vitally important in respect to staying safe. Every year, boats—no matter how big find ways to capsize and sink in rough water, and anglers become lightning rods.
The other side of that coin is that every year countless giant fish go uncaught while rightly cautious anglers sit in their trucks at launches, watching the skies for looming storms that never actually arrive.
The lesson is one we’ve heard—the better you understand and can predict weather, and the better you apply the information to your fishing, the more productive you’ll be.
What’s On The Horizon
What many of us haven’t heard enough about, however, are the satellite weather display capabilities being offered by GPS manufacturers, as well as the angler-friendly service packages that power them. Some have been around for a few seasons, while others have just hit the market. In any case, they remain grossly underutilized by anglers.
Specific functions vary, but in general the setups function like the satellite radio in your car or home. In this case, through, constantly updated weather information is beamed to your GPS, where it’s overlaid on the display, showing you precipitation, lightning strikes, storms, wind information, weather reports and forecasts.
In many cases, the data is more accurate and updated far more frequently than anything you’ll find on the Internet or local news. Plus, some upper-end service packages provide details such as the estimated wind direction and speed across North America valuable information wherever you’re fishing.
Storm tracking is another strength. For example, with Lowrance’s new HDS units, which use Sirius Marine Weather data, anglers can move the cursor to any storm cell and instantly learn its speed, direction, cloud height and severity.
Even if your GPS or service plan doesn’t offer such detail, you can place waypoints on a storm front to track its direction and speed yourself from a distance. In the meantime, you get to keep fishing.
It’s admittedly easy to look at this technology and wrongfully write it off as “just weather.” After all, we’ve long had access to relatively reliable weather information via marine radios, the Internet, television and even cell phones. And besides, most of us fish when we can— even if that means coping with bad weather. It’s not like knowing ahead of time will change anything.
But that glosses over the true value of satellite weather services—identifying fish-holding spots and establishing patterns, something that dawned on me when I got into the boat with walleye pro Scott Glorvigen.
When used in conjunction with highdefinition contour maps, like the 3-D Insight mapping of Lowrance HDS units, the weather data cracks open a whole new dimension in locating fish. For an example, Glorvigen scrolled up his unit’s chartplotter screen to show Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Lake. There, wind barbs showed a building northwesterly breeze hitting two large shallow flats. The flats’ position, combined with the precise wind direction, formed a huge funnel that necked down into a narrow trough of deeper water.
“Where do you think that wind’s going to push all that water? Now where do you think the fish are going to stack up?” he asked rhetorically.
Same goes for rivers. Glorvigen scrolled the cursor cross country to South Dakota’s Lake Oahe. “Look at the wind pounding into that bluff shoreline. I can guarantee a big mudline has set up there, and that’s where the fish are going to be. I can quickly identify several spots just like that, then run right to them.”
Great Lakes anglers will especially love the ability of the HDS units and premium service plans to show surface-water temperatures (only on the Great Lakes or oceans), which lets them easily find temperature breaks that concentrate both baitfish and gamefish.
These are just a few of the many ways that detailed satellite weather information can help savvy anglers catch more fish. Stay on the leading edge of this building storm and you’ll be poised to reap the rewards.