Better safe than sorry

I was ready to launch my fishing boat last week.

It was ready to go, but you know what they say about mice and men and their best laid plans. The plan I had laid out for my boat really went asunder when thunder storms with wind and a possible tornado headed our way.

Barb and I have spent enough time in our sailboat fighting Lake Erie storms to stay safely on shore when the weather kicks up. When we sailed out of sight of land we had no option but to batten the hatches, reef the sails and fight it out. Now our boating is much more genteel on our small lake and fishing can always await another day without bouncing over whitecaps. And don’t call us chicken of the sea until you also spend 12 hours fighting waves the Coast Guard estimated as cresting over 12 feet. It just ain’t fun.

Of course there is a difference between gentle, warm April showers and a storm, and I have often fished in the rain.

My sweet wife, Barb, has often reminded me that I once told her that fish bite better in the rain. I think she sometimes brings this up to shame me into going fishing when I would rather nurse a hot cup of coffee and watch the rain drops trickle down the window pane.

I do have theories about rain causing fish to bite. One of my unscientific theories is that rain causes feeder streams to wash food into the lake or river where I am fishing.

It makes sense to me that the influx of food gets the fish feeding and sometimes they cannot tell the difference between the natural food supply and my bait or lure. Even if only small food is washed in it puts the food chain into gear and sooner or later it gets up to the larger predator fish I am after.

A more realistic reason for fish activity was given to me while fishing Mosquito Lake with a couple excellent anglers. Their theory was that a changing barometric pressure is the key to improved fishing.

It did not seem to matter whether the barometer was rising or falling although I believe a falling barometer is better. These fishermen were so serious about this that they carried a small handheld barometer with them. Did I put much faith in their theory? Well after that day I immediately bought a handheld barometer and always carry it on my boat.

There is also a barometer hanging on the wall behind my desk and I refer to it often. There was a similar barometer on our sailboat “Restless” and its reading was recorded in the ship’s log every time I plotted our course and location.

The reading at my desk is also recorded in my journal. The changing barometer readings are an excellent way to predict the coming weather. A rapidly falling barometer shows me that something bad is on its way.

Although I have taken courses on weather I am not an expert forecaster, but I do use my barometer to try to predict if the fish will bite. I also watch the birds, especially those that eat fish.

Just the other day I watched a beautiful osprey spiral dive into the water and fly off with a fish. Gulls and diving ducks are sure signs that bait fish are near, but I also watch birds that eat insects. Swallows especially become active when there is any sort of insect hatch. Insects might be tiny, but a hatch begins that ever present food chain. So watch for those swallows and other birds.

Predicting the weather and how fish will act is fun, and it might even lead to better fishing success.

At the very least you might know when it’s a good day to keep the boat tethered to the dock, grab a hot cup of coffee or other drink, while you watch the rain and plan for other days when you can fish while the sun shines.

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