By Steve Graf
Bass fishermen are weather fanatics! We are constantly looking at the forecast and what to expect for our next event. We are so enthralled with the weather that we will look at the forecast 10 days in advance so we can start planning our fishing strategy. But nothing gets an angler’s attention quicker than stormy skies. During my 32 years as a tournament angler, there have been a couple of situations that really made me nervous.
Back in 2015 on Toledo Bend was one such day, as the forecast was for clear skies with light and variable winds out of the south at 10 to 15 MPH. But you must first understand that a south wind on Toledo Bend means it’s coming right down the pipe. It’s a lake where even a small amount of wind out of the north or the south can make navigation difficult. The problem with Toledo Bend is that you must run the boat roads which puts you out in the middle of the lake most of the time. To compare, Sam Rayburn has no boat roads, and you can run closer to the bank and get out of the wind most of the time.
But on this one occasion in 2015, the tournament was out of Fin & Feather Resort on the far south end of Toledo Bend. This resort is located on the south bank of what is called Six Mile Bay. A south wind has no impact on this area and is an area you can fish without much of a problem. But as my number was called for takeoff and I headed for the main lake to make a run north and across the lake to Negreet Creek, I was met with 20 plus MPH winds and four-foot rollers (waves). One thing about driving a boat, it’s a lot easier to go against the waves rather than go with them. As I made the turn north in this rough water, it was apparent rather quickly that my run to Negreet Creek was not going to happen.
After riding four-foot waves for about three miles and beating my co- angler and myself to death, I finally came to a pocket on the west side I could pull into and possibly fish. After we gained our composure and dried off from our soaking short run, I told my co-angler to settle in for the day because we were not going to go out and fight that kind of rough water until time to go back for the weigh-in.
Another problem with running in this kind of rough water is the wear and tear on your boat and equipment. I’ve seen anglers come in with trolling motors hanging off or their electronic fish sonars no longer on the boat after a rough ride in. Boat hulls have sustained major damage and anglers have been hurt fighting waves and trying to stay in the boat on these long runs back. At some point as an angler you must ask yourself, “Is it worth tearing up all my equipment for a few pounds of fish?”
The answer for me is a resounding “NO,” as I must not only worry about myself, but I have a co-angler that I’m responsible for getting back safely. After a long day of fishing, we headed back with south winds now exceeding 25 MPH. We were over three miles from the boat ramp, and I knew it was going to take at least an hour to go that distance in that kind of water. So, we left at 2:00 for a 3:00 weigh-in time. It was a good thing we did as I was never able to put the boat on a plane and run. We literally idled the entire three miles back to Six Mile Bay and made our check in time with only two minutes to spare. I’ve only kissed the ground twice in my life, once on Sam Rayburn and this day on Toledo Bend.
Again, anglers face all kinds of weather every season, but nothing affects us or our decisions more than wind. The first question I always ask myself when a decision must be made, “Is it worth it?” Most of the time, the answer is “no” and will always be “no” when it comes to the safety of my co-angler and myself. Until next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!
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