Sea trout fishing in strong wind
The wind you fear shows up on the weather forecast. I had to look twice before I realized it was true what I saw. Wind was supposed to hit peaks of up to 35m/s. Sea trout fishing in the Baltic Sea is heavily reliant of having appropriate winds, something I will explain more about more in this article. One person that sure knows the importance of good winds for catching sea trout on Gotland is my Fish Your Dream guide colleague Jerome Saunders. I called him up as soon as I had seen the weather front coming in. “Have you left yet?” “Yes,” I hear Jerome reply. “Don’t look at the weather forecast,” I replied with a tens laugh. “It’s going to be windy when you get here.” Our goal had been to catch the first sea trout of the year on Gotland. Now it was going to be a battle against the conditions.
We had planned this trip for a while. I’d been away from Gotland for a week but together with Jon Wilund and Jerome Saunders we were going to start the year with meeting up on the island. For Jon this was the first time fishing on Gotland and for the start we had really excellent conditions. It was so warm that we could fish in the middle of the winter with just a trucker cap on the head. Jon is a bearded guy and didn’t need anything on his head to stay warm in the 5 degrees plus we had that day. Wind was coming from the south and nice waves were rolling in, that made us really excited. I was quite sure we were going to get in contact with fish this day. Before a big storm it seems like the sea tout feed a little bit extra to be sure of what’s about to come. Later in the afternoon the wind was going to pick up and air pressure would drop drastically. I am certain that fish can feel such things coming.
Jon happy with a fine sea trout caught in shallow water
The conditions were really nice the first day of fishing. Murky water near the shore and clear further out. No need to wade far out in conditions like this during the cold-water period.
As a photographer I like these compositions that present themselves to me during fishing. I don’t find much fun in just walking around looking for things to take pictures of. Here is a photo that I’m quite pleased with as it captures just a short break in fishing.
Let the storm begin
After a night with little of sleep, due to the heavy sound from the wind outside, we all felt surprisingly motivated to get out in the water. Checking the forecast it showed that in Visby the wind had peaked at 35 m/s during the night. We found a complete grill on our yard and we still don’t know who the owner is. Not really the usual fishing day on Gotland. However, we had mapped out a place with the least wind for us to go to.
Problems occurred at our first attempted location where we had underestimated the power of the wind. The wind was blowing straight from the shoreline, which we knew, but once there we saw that waves out on the sea were huge and that the water at the shoreline was completely brown with mud. I have no problem fishing dirty or colored water, but I don’t like when the water is grainy with small particles. The fish prefer not to have this grainy water passing though their gills if they can, so they tend to avoid those areas. Here it was almost like pure mud, time to move on.
Finding a place to fish was a struggle, and we were lucky to find a road that was just opened from fallen trees. We helped to carry away the logs so we could continue on. The places we found where we we able to fish during the storm were not only where it was possible to reach the coast, but also where we could be protected from the wind without it being directly behind us. On the places we fished we were trying to work with more of a side wind. The combination of the downed trees and blowing gale challenged our motivation to continue fishing when bites were few and far between, but on good looking places we managed to work our flies for a while.
The equipment I use in such heavy wind is still my seven-weight rod, but I set up with a eight weight Vision xo line in the windy conditions. The heavier line isn’t as affected by the wind. The important thing is to not overpower the cast, but instead cast in the tempo with the wind. You are not supposed to cast through the wind. Therefore, it is optimal to cast in sidewind and make sure that you are on the safe side of the line flying in the air. Turn around and cast backwards if you aren’t on the safe side, a technique that can be worth practicing in calmer conditions in order to open up more fishing opportunities later. To cast into the wind and still get distance is really challenging, and is something you can only ask yourself regarding your casting skill level. But often no matter if you are a higlhly skilled caster or not the smartest thing to do is to start come up with plans that do not involve casting straight into the wind when the average wind speed is 6 m/s or above. Sometimes it is enough to cast with just a small angle with the wind to gain a straighter presentation. When you have a strong wind in your back it can be very easy to get the line out straight. However, try not to overdo the casting. Try a simple and relaxed roll cast or a very short back cast where you aim the line low behind you and then compensate by aiming high in the forward cast. Though even with the wind at your back you often reach the longest distance if you try to get a little bit of a side angle to the wind.
Next level tailing loop
On the way home, we stopped by where the waves were hitting with the most power just to see how bad the wind was there and you could truly lean into the wind. We made some casting just for fun, but water was way too messy. No matter if it is during wind or the day after the wind, I want to fish places with clear water or just a little bit of colour. A deal breaker for me is when I do normal wading in water up to my thighs and I’m not able to see my feet very well. Then I think it is too coloured for fishing. I have caught fish in more colour than this, but what also happens sometimes if fish try to bite in very poor visibility is that they are more likely to get false hooked. So, I don’t feel it is very fun to fish water in this condition. I would rather move someplace else.
Fishing the days after the storm was quite frustrating, but we caught a few fish on places where the water had cleared the most. Many times we drove down the road to the sea and waded along the shorelines in separate ways with water to our knees in search of zones with acceptably clear water. It can be very local , but a small window of clear water can mean that it is loaded with sea trout. We actually found one zone like that and had two followers in the first cast. Then it is worth all the struggle.
This fishing adventure was no success story, but I want to show that it is possible to fish in not just the best fishing conditions. The fishing during the storm Alfrida was fun, we learned new things, caught a few fish and gave some best pictures in a good while.
What can we learn from this?
Study the forecast well for the enjoyment and success of your fishing trip, as well as your safety and comfort.
Fish all the way into the storm hits. Fish can be eager to eat before it gets too windy, and take advantage of the turbulence disturbing and disorienting baitfish and crustaceans.
Be prepared for underflows that may bring up dirty water and to avoid areas where the water is way too murky or grainy.
After the wind stops the dirt tend to spread out into the calm areas. The first fishable areas are often where there is a good flow or stream in the sea.
Edit: Samuel Blyth
This is a new mini series on my blog, it's about how to fly fish during the cold months. During January, three Sundays in a row you can read about my tips and tricks on how to be efficient and catch fish during winter. This is the first chapter which is going to be about how to get dressed to keep the cold out from limiting your time fishing... Read more