Don't Be JUST a Fair Weather Fly Angler
About nine years ago I fly fished in some of the wildest conditions I've ever experienced.
I was on Pyramid Lake, NV in the spring chasing the famous Lahontan Cutthroat trout that thrive there. No, it didn't snow. There was no rain, sleet, or hail. The sun was shining most of the time and the temps were quite mild. So what was the big deal? The wind....and it was ferocious!
The previous days were productive, but that third and last day was easily the best I've ever experienced in all the years I've fished there. While there was a good breeze the other days, it was shrieking that last day. If I had to guess, I'd say it was sustained around 30 and gusting 50–60 easy. The whitecaps offshore looked like massive herds of sheep milling around, while on shore there were waves and sheets of blowing sand constantly pelting me. Kinda brutal!
Armed with my trusty 5-weight Cabela's L-Tech fly rod (it was an OUTSTANDING rod by the way), I caught and released over 50 cutts. It was unreal!
In wind like that, you might ask how I even managed to fish? Luckily, the wind was from the PERFECT angle to the shoreline I was fishing, coming right off my non-casting shoulder. This allowed me to cast somewhat and made the wave action run along the bank rather than straight into it. Because of that, everything remained sorta manageable and the water clarity was decent. Truthfully, casting was often pretty ugly as sometimes I was just kinda flopping my line out there, but hey it worked.
One thing about Pyramid is that it can get really crowded. It's always had its share of anglers, but the internet has blown it up big time. I guess this article isn't helping much with that, but I figure everyone knows by now anyway judging by the constant press that place gets. Anyhow, besides improving the bite, another reason I love fishing there in crazy wind is because it keeps some anglers away. I generally try to find my own water there away from the big congregations, but I can still run into a few folks. However, in really bad conditions, I can often be alone in my spots the entire day.
That day (just before the fishing got really insane) a couple guys parked their Toyota truck near my car and came down to the bank. They seemed like pretty casual anglers and were just chucking big ass spoons as far as they could. Well, after being sandblasted for about 10 minutes, they trudged back to their truck and got out of there never to be seen again. You guys missed out! Hah.
As stated, I love fishing that place when it's windy because it can make for some insane fishing. While many anglers would likely prefer it to be much calmer, I don't—the stronger the wind, the better! That brings up a major reason why some anglers can often miss out on some of the best days on the water—if the weather looks uncomfortable or tough to deal with, they stay home.
Just remember that when the weather doesn't seem optimal to you, it just might be perfect for the fish you're after. Whether that's wind, heavy rain, a combination of both, or whatever, it can spark the bite big time.
Fishing in adverse weather also forces you to adapt which can help boost confidence and mental toughness. How well-rounded can you be if you're just a fair weather fly angler? Even if fishing isn't very good when it's nasty out, being out there teaches you to deal with discomfort, tricky casting, and line management—among other variables. It lets you step outside the comfort zone and be ready for whatever nature throws at you. Additionally, water levels, clarity, and wave action may be altered by the weather which can further test your ability to adjust. For me, catching a fish in poor conditions is a little more special than catching one when everything is perfect.
While the casual angler may not care, those wanting to truly up their game shouldn't get complacent. So long as conditions aren't dangerous or simply too extreme, GO FLY FISHING! Doing so can open up new opportunities and better your skills, all while enjoying less competition from other anglers. Cold, windy, and raining? Grab those rods and head out the door!