Saltwater Fishing in Windy Conditions – Good Idea or Not? (The Debate Ends HERE)


Many anglers have a distaste for fishing in the rain, and rightfully so!

The conditions and incredibly uncomfortable and make the outing seem less worth it.

But saltwater fishing in the wind can also be super rewarding if you know how to use the wind to your advantage.

When it’s windy it affects the water, where the fish are, and how we need to fish for them! It is possible to fish and have great success in windy conditions, let’s see how.

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What Happens When It’s Windy

Windy days change conditions very quickly and force anglers to adopt different techniques to continue fishing. When the wind picks up this affects tides and currents by churning up the water and forcing more movement.

Thankfully for us, this then creates more channels and areas that churn up bait or smaller fish and thus drawing the other fish to these areas.

Your game fish, which are generally ambush predators prefer these channels as they swim along the edges waiting for baitfish to be pulled over by the current and then nab them!

Not to mention strong winds normally pick up just before a storm or weather change. As barometric pressure drops the fish feed as much as they can before it becomes too uncomfortable for them. Check out this article for more information on barometric pressure.

Fish who also prefer to swim closer to the surface will also search out calmer water as the wind roughs up the surface. This will force them inland to you more sheltered areas like little corners without wind. This is determined by wind direction though.

Below is a great example of the corners I am talking about. If the wind is going easterly, then the inside corner at Queensberry Bay will be sheltered from the wind. This draws the baitfish into that corner within casting distance and with no obstruction from the wind.

If the wind is westerly then the inside corner of Glen Eden will work better as the baitfish will move there to avoid the wind.

Queensberry Bay

Certain saltwater species also prefer different water conditions which the wind creates. In some places around the globe, East winds over a few days make the water very dirty and the waves are consistent and set close together.

A west wind generally provides cleaner water with waves a good few seconds apart. Both conditions can be productive depending on your target species.

Fishing Offshore & in Rivers

Fishing offshore in windy conditions can be incredibly dangerous and I would suggest caution when doing this. But in moderately windy conditions it is still possible to fish.

Because you are fishing waters of much deeper depths than other areas, bottom fishing shouldn’t be as affected by the wind. But with wind conditions the ocean swells start to increase in size and, depending on wind strength, waves could even form.

As the boat rocks up and down over the swells, your bait will lift and fall off the ocean floor. Use this to your advantage. Present a bait that would look as if it was swimming with the up-down movement.

If you are topwater fishing in these conditions you are going to find it rather difficult. Wind hinders your cast due to resistance on the fishing line and your bait or lure. Try to position yourself to cast with the wind if possible.

If you are on a fishing kayak be sure to not venture off too far from shore when winds rise. The row back will be very difficult and tiring.

boat fishing rod and reel for saltwater fishing

Fishing saltwater rivers has its own set of challenges and opportunities. The challenges of fishing in a river are that casting will be difficult, big baits won’t work well, and the surface of the water is very disrupted forcing fish to calmer areas that you might not be able to get to.

But we can take on the challenge and overcome these odds by working with the wind. Position your boat, kayak, or even where you are standing in a place to cast with the wind. Drifting is also a super successful method!

Cast your line with a small sinker and float to ensure your desired depth and allow it to drift with the current. When fish are swimming against or with the current see it they will go it if it’s well presented.

If you are on a boat or kayak position it towards the direction you want to drift and allow the whole boat to drift. Having a water sock on should help you drift slowly. While drifting cast with the wind if you can to shallow areas with cover. Open water can also work at times!

Another option is even allowing your line to drift with the boat. Cast a lite weight bait and let it drift as the current carries the boat and bait along. Make sure to set your drag properly when doing this.

fisherman casting rod and catching big waves in ocean

Rock & Surf Fishing

When fishing on the shore off the beach positioning yourself is of the utmost importance! Look for area’s that will help provide you with the best conditions possible. Like the picture shows above, fish in areas that are sheltered from the wind, direction dependant obviously.

When fishing off the rocks or on a pinnacle choose the side with less wind and remember, the fish aren’t always far out. Lots of fish prefer to stick closer to the rocks and ledges. If you cast too far you risk the wind catching your line and pushing it in a direction you don’t want.

Cliff faces and ledges also provide fish which prefer to swim near the surface with calmer water. Make sure your drag is set right as these fish tend to grab the bait and swim into cracks making it difficult to get them out.

A stiffer rod would suit fishing ledges and rock faces to help you maneuver when fighting the fish better. I would suggest the Penn Squall Level Wind Reel & Rod Combo.

This rod and reel combo is a perfect combination! This rod provides the perfect strength and gives you enough flexibility to play the fish strategically.

Saltwater fishing in the surf on a windy day is absolutely terrible as most beaches or coastlines are straight, allowing for strong winds to blow consistently.

If the forecast shows wind try get to the beach early hours of the morning before it picks up too much. There are advantages to strong winds blowing with surf fishing though.

saltwater fishing rod and reel close up

When strong winds blow consistently channels form from different currents. Look for these channels that ideally run in a similar direction to the wind. If there is consistent white water with sand churning up in front of it the generally means that’s a channel.

When the wind changes direction and dies down a bit this is the time to check where the new channels are and go for them. If there is still moderate wind make sure you use a smaller lure such as a 5inch to limit wind resistance on the cast.

Choosing the right rod is also very important. You want something light that isn’t going to catch the wind too much and a rod that will help you reach the channel at the backline.

I would suggest the Penn Prevail II Surf Casting Fishing Rod. This rod is lite, it has decent length and an extended handle to give you more leverage when casting.

Having a great pair of wading boots also helps when you are wading into the water chest deep and can’t see what’s under water (for those of us who get paranoid when something touches your feet in the water ).

Here’s a link to some great choices of saltwater wading boots.

man fly fishing in saltwater

Always Come Prepared

You can never be too prepared. Keep a good watch on the weather forecast. Watch when the wind picks up and dies down, check barometric pressure. Bring a good wind-breaker to keep you covered when fishing in the wind.

Most importantly make sure you take what is necessary but don’t overpack. Dealing with an excess of unnecessary tackle and bags while in the wind is a recipe for disaster. Rather pack lite and keep things in their place so they don’t blow away.

The Last Cast Tackle Surf Fishing Tackle Bag is a great choice. It is waterproof and cant fit the necessary tackle in it that you need. It is also easy to carry and doesn’t take up much space.

An alternative option for those of you on kayaks or boats could be the Ugly Stik Fishing Bag. This bag is spacious but still small and easy to carry. It can fit into your dry hatches well and has a waterproof bottom on it.

There’s Our Answer

Fishing in the wind, although uncomfortable, can work out to your advantage if you know what to look for and fish with the wind. So tackle up correctly, watch the weather forecast, and whether you are on the shore, in a river or offshore on a boat…we wish you all the best!

Tight Lines!

Please share your experiences with us in the comment section below.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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