with 2019 Bassmaster Classic Winner Ott Defoe
Some of the most miserable weather I’ve had to fish in was when I’ve been on big water and facing strong winds and high waves, like fishing on Lake Erie. The weather there was windy and cloudy, and the temperature was about 55 degrees. The difficult aspect of fishing these kinds of conditions is to make yourself slow down and take advantage of any bites you get. To learn to fish in these conditions, always plan to fish when the weather’s so bad you don’t want to go fishing, even on days you don’t have to fish. Most people have the advantage of picking the days they want to go bass fishing. Very rarely will they fish the days with terrible weather, when they don’t have to or want to bass fish.
However, when a tournament is scheduled, of course, the tournament director can’t schedule the weather. So, sometimes we professional anglers have to fish in bad weather. To be a versatile angler, you must learn to fish those kinds of days. When you’ve scheduled an off day or a vacation day to fish, then when the weather’s bad, you’ll have two choices – go fishing in that bad weather or sit in your motel room and watch reruns of “I Love Lucy.”
I think the secret to successfully making your lures act as they should is to learn to be as stable as you possibly can be and not let the boat’s action affect your baits or the way you present those baits as much as you can. I bend my knees when the front end of the boat goes up to try to keep my lure on the same plane as it’s been on when the boat goes down. I try to act as a shock absorber for my rod, line and lure, when fishing in rough water.
Another problem anglers face on these kinds of days is casting with the wind. On some bodies of water, the bass will only take a lure that’s coming with the wind, meaning that an angler must cast into the wind, which is difficult when fishing bait-casting tackle. I switch over to using spinning tackle then. I don’t attempt to cast as far as I will with a bait-casting rod. I was fishing a jerkbait on Lake St. Clair once near Detroit, Michigan, and realized I wouldn’t be able to cast that jerkbait as far on my bait-casting rod as I could my spinning rod. With a spinning rod, I learned I could cast a jerkbait twice as far and still not get a backlash.