Stormy Waters!

By Steve Graf

For years, bass fishermen have heard the phrase, “The wind is your friend.” Well, this is not always true, and today I’ll explain  why. Mother Nature can be very unpredictable, and she has an unforgivable temper. Some days she’s awesome with bluebird skies and rays of sunshine streaming down. Other days, she can unleash a rage of fury that will have you taking cover and counting your blessings.

But with regards to the quote of “The wind is your friend,” wind is a very important factor when it comes to the bass biting. Windy shores can be an awesome place to catch a few bass. The science says that the reason bass are present on windy shores is because of the food chain. Wind forces the plankton towards the bank which in turn brings in the smaller fish like shad and bream. When these guys show up, a feeding frenzy is about to begin as the bass will always follow the bait fish. A windy chop on the water’s surface allows anglers to get in close without spooking the fish. So this is why anglers like a little wind, but you must be careful what you wish for.

If there’s one thing that makes me very nervous, it’s an approaching thunderstorm. Over my years of tournament fishing, I’ve had a few rough encounters of the worst kind. Two years ago on Lake Sam Rayburn, a storm came over the lake from the southwest. The sky literally turned black as it approached, and I could tell this was not going to be a small storm. I had a co-angler fishing with me in this particular tournament, who I could tell was getting a little nervous as the lightning got really bad. The biggest problem was that the storm was coming from the same direction as the boat ramp we were trying to reach for the weigh-in. So we had a choice, either try and outrun the storm before it cut us off from the ramp or go east across the lake and seek cover in a cove as the storm hopefully passed over the west side of the lake.

Realizing that we were not going to beat the storm back to the ramp, I decided to head east across the lake and take cover in the nearest cove. As we were running across the lake at 70 mph, I noticed the waves were really starting to get bad with 3-foot rollers. Then out of the corner of my right eye, I noticed the water was swirling as the wind was now blowing what seemed like 40 plus mph. It was obvious we were not going to outrun this storm. As the wind continued to get stronger, it hit the side of boat while we were running at full speed, and it lifted the boat off the water! I thought we were about to flip over, so I let off the gas and the boat sat back down on the water. It was raining so hard that you could not see 20 feet in front of the boat, but we kept moving toward the cove to seek safety.

Next, I had one of those incidents that you have nightmares about… during the downpour I saw another boat coming in my direction from my left. In a matter of seconds, I knew immediately we were on a collision course. As he passed in front of me by a few inches at 60 mph, my heart jumped out of my chest as I shut the boat down. It was an absolute miracle that we did not hit. I could not believe the other boater never shut down, instead he just kept going which I thought was strange since we just avoided a deadly crash. With my co-angler trembling, we finally reach the cove and waited the storm out before heading for the weigh-in.

As I was in the weigh-in line, I saw the angler who I had the near collision with and approached him to apologize for what happened. Turns out, HE NEVER SAW ME ….and that there was divine intervention to save both of us. It explained why he never stopped or slowed down after he passed in front of me. HE NEVER SAW ME!  This is why you need to get off the water as soon as you see an approaching storm. Because in a matter of minutes, things can go from bad to worse. Till next time be safe, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!