As I plan fishing trips, checking the weather reports ranks right up there with the tide charts. Knowing the forecast and planning accordingly is vital to saltwater fishing success in Texas.
First I'll share three links with you so you can check them before your next trip:
National Weather Service - Marine Weather
I'll check all three Weather Reports and compare them to get a good overall view.
Weather Underground Reports
They all have a wind rating, which is especially important if I'm fishing the surf or fly fishing.
And then we're going to talk about us, our safety and comfort, and make sure that we're taking the right precautions to keep us on the water longer. Planning poorly here can be hazardous to our health.
Wind and Water
As I'm packing my gear into my truck in the Houston suburbs where I live, I'm blocked from the Northwind and am warmed by the concrete jungle. I know that when I get to the coast it's going to be windier and cooler than when I was loading up. These simple facts can make or break a trip.
During the late Fall, Winter, and early Spring there is a lot of good fishing to be had for us here on the Gulf Coast. Keeping warm and dry will help us fish longer and give us a better chance to catch more fish.
It always pays to put on more clothes than you think you'll need when fishing during the cooler times of the year. It's windier along the coast compared to the city, and the damp wind coming off the water feels a lot colder.
Then there are the other 300 days of the year when it feels like a sauna out there. Then it pays to be covered as much as possible and to drink plenty of fluids. As you drive around South Texas during the warmer times of the year, notice what the guys that work outside are wearing.
You'll find them in long sleeves and pants and wearing hats and some type of neck covering. Keeping the sun off you is good for your skin and your energy. And keeping sunscreen on exposed skin can save you from that feeling of being baked in an oven when you try to go to sleep after a fishing trip.
Long sleeve shirts, pants, hats, and a neck covering will keep you cooler and protected. And it will keep you fishing longer and enjoying the coast.
When you're fishing the surf, checking the weather reports and the surf cams can make the difference between dealing with small swells and three footers you have to jump or they'll crash over your head!
The Old Saying
You know the one, "If you ever get sick of the weather in Houston/South Texas/along the Gulf Coast, just give it a day or so and it will change." I probably butchered that a bit but if you've lived here for any period of time you know that the weather can change very quickly.
And here we're not merely talking about comfort, we're talking about safety. Getting caught in a front or a sudden storm is no fun. Lighting, high wind and waves, and dramatic temperature changes are commonplace along the Texas Coast.
Knowing the weather reports and planning to be off the water when a front or storm hits will protect you. Lightning is no joke, and getting caught outdoors can be a harrowing experience during a severe storm.
Another thing to consider is crossing open bays when storms suddenly turn gentle swells into 4-6 footers, capable of capsizing small boats or kayaks. We've probably read stories about fishermen that get caught in a storm and know that sometimes they make it back and sometimes they don't.
Respect is the Key
Whether you chalk it up to Mother Nature or God's Creation, respect is the key here along with planning accordingly. Know the weather reports for the days you'll be on the water. Dress for it so you're comfortable and can chase them longer. And get back to the dock or shore before a storm hits.
On to the Fish!
So how does the weather affect the fish we're after? I'm glad you asked! The first thing to remember is that fish are cold-blooded creatures and have no way of regulating their body temperatures.
There's a good explanation of what this means to the fish by Captain Kevin Cochran from his book, Tricking Texas Trout. "It has no system to regulate its body temperature, so its blood becomes akin to the mercury in a thermometer, rising and falling with changes in weather and season.
"The change in body temperature of a trout happens more slowly than fluctuations in air temperature, though, so it pays to remember that more time is required for fish to feel the effects of changes in air temperature than we humans need. Often, the effects of cold fronts, for instance, are felt by the fish days after we feel them, and the angler guessing that the fish will react more quickly may be in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Wind and Fish
Wind will affect your comfort on the water, how far you can cast and will muddy up the water depending on where you are. But windy weather doesn't mean the fishing won't be good. A little wind will break up the surface of the water and provide you with a little cover.
Wind moves water and can strengthen or weaken tidal movement. That's why it pays to view both the weather reports and the tide charts and consider how they will be working together.
Then there are times when the wind moves water and floods a grassy shoreline. I've caught lots of redfish during my trips with Bay Flats Lodge under these conditions. The water was a bit muddy, but the fish were stacked up along these shorelines.
Wind will have different effects on fishing depending on where you are, the time of year, and the tidal movement. It pays to factor it in along with temperature and tidal movement and to be on the water in your favorite fishing spots to learn more.
Check the weather reports before you fish the coast. Do it first for your protection and comfort on the water. You'll be able to fish longer, learn more, and give yourself the best chance to catch fish.
Then do it as you plan for your fishing, to learn how it affects the areas you fish, and how it works with tidal forces. Knowing this will make you a better fisherman.
Return from Weather Reports to the Saltwater Fishing Tips page.