Something that has interested me is how wind affects surf fishing. If it is a windy day, do you head out to the beach for a bit of surf fishing or is there a way to tell if it is the type of wind that your most-prized catches shy away of?
Does wind affect surf fishing? Yes, the wind does affect surf fishing. Offshore winds can make longer casting possible. Offshore winds can also bring about the tranquil sea, high atmospheric pressure, and clear water, which can send fish into deeper waters.
As new to surf fishing, there seems to be a lot to think about before you can grab your rods and head to the surf, so I did a little bit of research to see if the wind does affect surf fishing. Please read on.
How Does Wind Condition Affect Surf Fishing?
If you are wondering how wind affects surf fishing, it’s not a very easy question to answer. The effects of wind on surf fishing can be both good and bad. It depends on the day and of course, the type of wind (direction, speed) you are dealing with.
In some instances, wind can bring about a very productive fishing day. In other cases, it can ruin the conditions and send all your fish away.
There are even instances where wind can do both things in one day. What wind does that affect surf fishing is having an effect on the baitfish in the water and on the water itself?
What effect does the wind have on baitfish?
In terms of the bait, I have found that a pattern of white baited being blown with the wind, while bunker feed is blown into the wind.
This can be a helpful bit of information to have when planning which windy days are best for surf fishing.
What effect does wind have on water?
Simply put, the wind will push the water around and create drift currents and waves while it does so.
At the same time, the direction of the wind and the strength of the wind can either slow down or speed up the tidal current and affect the expected changing tides.
This can turn an otherwise good fishing day into a bad one, or vice versa.
How Wind Affects Bait & Water on the Open Beach
As a surf angler, you will be fishing from the open beach, which is quite different from fishing from a bay.
Surf anglers typically read the waves – most look for white water as a ‘tell’ of fish presence.
Many surf anglers believe that flat conditions make for a poor catch and that white water is needed for a good catch. This is not strictly true – it is merely a misconception.
You can still catch fish in calm, flat conditions – and many anglers have.
What you need to know about wind on the open beach is this:
Waves are created in the direction that the wind is blowing. This means that wind can either cause dramatic crashing waves or slow these waves down and create a smoother, calmer sea.
Strong winds mean rougher waves. Offshore tropical storms most often bring with them a southerly wind.
Southerly blows brought on by tropical storms usually come to shore when there is a strong northerly wind, and then the surf is typically knocked down.
Sweep can be a side effect of wind and can either bring in fish or deter them.
Long, large waves caused by hard wind can create murky surf, which makes it quite difficult to fish.
Wind will affect the direction of bait moves.
If the wind blows whitebait offshore, bunker schools may (and often do) head towards the surf, which makes for a great catch. It’s good to fish from the shore when you notice that whitebait is being blown offshore.
North winds that create a smooth, flat surface often brings migrating fish into the surf and well within casting distance.
These are just a few things that have noticed in terms of how wind can affect surf fishing.
Wind can play a rather significant role in your fishing attempts, but there are various aspects of the type of wind at play that can truly determine if the wind is good or bad for your planned catch.
Is Wind Direction, Strength & Speed Important?
You might wonder if the direction of the wind and the strength of the wind are essential. You also might wonder if the speed of the wind is necessary too.
Do you need to worry about all of these factors at the very same time?
The answer, in short, is yes – wind speed, direction, and strength are all critical elements to consider.
However, it is essential to note that you might have different experiences depending on where you are fishing and at what time of the day or night.
Understanding a bit more about each type of wind you might encounter while surf fishing might help you to decide for yourself.
Let’s take a look at the following:
While it depends on the location you fish from, East and Northeast winds are typically the least favorite for anglers. This is because these winds usually churn the water up quite a lot.
Generally speaking, South winds can delay migratory fish. On the flip side, a Northwind can result in spans of fish presenting themselves in the surf. North winds are often associated with a cold front, so be careful of that.
There’s something that you need to understand about West wind. West winds typically blow plankton out to sea. This usually means that the baitfish follow the plankton and in turn, the bigger fish follow them. West wind is not great for a good catch, most of the time.
It is also interesting to note that West winds usually show up before a storm strikes the area. The fish can certainly notice the change in atmospheric conditions.
And this is why the fish tend to make their way off to deeper water – but they don’t do so immediately.
Just before a West wind strikes, the fish may go into a feeding frenzy but once the West wind is in full force, you probably will not catch much.
I have found Southeast wind is excellent to surf fishing, during the spring also, the summer months.
What is the Difference between Onshore & Offshore Wind?
The different types of winds can become a little confusing. Then you still hear anglers talking about onshore and offshore winds – it is enough to overwhelm anyone.
Here is what you need to know when it comes to the difference between onshore and offshore winds and how they affect surf fishing efforts.
Offshore wind is a wind that blows from the coast and out towards the sea. These winds do an excellent job of delaying wave breaking. A wave breaking usually breaks in the water at around 1.3 times its depth.
Offshore winds bring about calmer or slower wave action.
Many anglers prefer offshore winds because they can cast longer and with greater ease. Of course, this can be a double-edged sword as the direction of the wind may cause a flatter surface and push fish further out to sea (a bit deeper).
This may mean that they have to cast even further to ensure their chances of a catch.
Onshore wind is wind blowing towards the shore, from the sea. These wind conditions are not always ideal for surf fishing. Onshore winds can make casting quite difficult.
If they are strong winds, it can make the casting distance required for surf fishing almost impossible. Onshore winds can also make the surf quite choppy and murky, and it may make the fishing conditions less than ideal.
How Does Wind Impact the Amount of Drag Needed for Surf Fishing?
What is the Ideal Wind Speed for Surf Fishing?
Wind type and direction plays a role – we have already seen that, but does the speed of the wind also play a role? Yes, it most certainly does.
If you check the weather conditions before going out to surf fishing, the speed of the wind can tell you whether it is a good idea or not.
I would personally say that winds that are blowing at less than 15 knots are best for surf fishing. Any faster than that and you can expect bows in your line.
There is no doubt about it, the wind positively does affect surf fishing, and while there is a general rule of thumbs that you can follow, it is also important to note that where you are and what season you are currently fishing in can determine which winds are good and bad.