How a Storm Affects Fishing - Struggles and Tips for Success Following A Strong Storm on the Lake
Would you like to contact to check availability or learn more?
Fill out the info below and someone from will get back to you.
You were in a deep sleep. You were sleeping so well because the past two days have been great fishing days out on the lake, comprised of nice strikes, catches, and full stringers of fish. Now you're awake and wondering "What is making all the racket?" That's when you see flashes of lightning through the cabin windows. What was a quiet summer's night sleep has now been interrupted by a full-blown thunderstorm with lightning strikes, loud claps of thunder and strong bursts of wind buffeting the cabin. You turn over and try and go back to sleep, though knowing that the great days of fishing that you've had may be the best fishing of the week. If you've encountered a storm like this before, you also know there is likely no rush to get out on the boat early as the thunder and lightning have probably shut down the bite.
July Thunderstorm on the Georgian Bay
After years of fishing across Ontario, I have encountered this situation on too many occasions. One trip I remember was to a camp located on an island in the North Channel of The Georgian Bay with my 13 year old son. We had arrived at camp towing my Lund Tyee late Saturday afternoon (having driven up from East Central Ohio that day) and gotten settled into our cabin about an hour before dark. It was a hot and humid mid-July day and I was down at the docks trying to get as much "intel" from the camp owner as I could before getting to bed after a long day driving. I was told the fish were very active and my son and I should have an excellent week of fishing.
The Day After the Storm
The first morning out my son Sam (who loves to fish as much as I do) pulled out a bait-caster and was casting large spinner baits off the end of the small point by our cabin. It wasn't 10 minutes until he had hooked and released a nice 5-6 lb Pike that inhaled the lure. He had also just missed a much larger Pike that had followed his bait and struck close to shore. This camp and the local waters were known for trophy Pike, and we went to sleep that evening with high hopes for the week ahead.
In the middle of the night several of our cabin windows were blown open and lightning and thunder were booming overhead. This strong summer storm lasted about an hour, keeping us up for the duration before we could get back to sleep. That morning when we went to the lodge for breakfast it was a cool, crisp "blue-bird" sky without a cloud as far as I could see, but I knew we were in for a tough few days of fishing. I had obtained a topographical map of the local waters, so after breakfast my son and I fished a number of points, reed beds and drops with casting both spinner-baits and deep running crank-baits, but to no avail. Thankfully I had opted for a boxed lunch for us instead of a shore-lunch kit, so we had nourishment for all the casting we did. We ended the day before dinner with several small Pike, which (while disappointing) was not a surprise to me.
The next day I hired a guide from the camp who took us out to a larger part of the North Channel and we fished areas around several islands with expansive reed-beds with nearby deep water. We caught some decent sized Pike (3-5 lbs), but overall it was not a very productive day, especially considering we had hired an older local guide with a good reputation. We fished mainly spinner-baits and again deep diving cranks with limited success; though we enjoyed a tasty shore-lunch, it was a very forgettable day.
Changing Our Approach
The next morning I changed our approach. My son and I pitched 3" twister tails on 1/8 oz jig heads into rocky points and flats. We immediately started catching nice Smallmouth Bass and a few Rock Bass. The weather was starting to turn in our favor (this was now the 3rd day after the severe storm) and a few clouds had returned to the sky. My son changed to a small 5" top water twitch bait that caught him several better-sized Smallmouth Bass and several "follows up" by a very large Bass that just would not strike despite a number of casts in that area of the rocky flat.
The Stronger the Storm...The Longer it Takes for the 'bite' to Recover
I have learned over the years that when you are fishing and have a thunderstorm hit, the stronger the storm (lightning and thunder) the longer the fishing bite will be "off", while the less severe or quicker a storm passes with little lightning or thunder, the quicker a good bite returns. Conversely, if you are able to be (safely) on the water prior to the storm's arrival the fishing should be very good to excellent. During these times, you could even fish that worthless lure that Uncle Carl passed on to you and it would get you a bite or two. It is during these pre-storm "hot bites" that my friends and I have laughed off notions that we should go on the professional fishing tours.
So the question becomes, "What baits and fishing techniques work best after a strong thunderstorm?"
Unfortunately, there are no "magic baits" especially following a severe storm (check out a professional fishing tournament score board when you hear of a 2 day tournament hit with a severe storm). However, there are some baits and techniques that have saved my fishing trips on a number of occasions.
First, try and find large weed beds with wind blowing into them. Fish the outside deep edge using a 1/4 oz jighead and a 3" twister-tail (I like chartreuse, white or smoke) and throw parallel to the face of the weed-bed letting your twister tail slowly swim deep along the deep edge. On some occasions I will tip the twister-tail with half a worm or small worm. The bites will be more like a slight "tick" or the line will feel "heavy" as the fish are not aggressive. If you have a camp boat without an electric motor, try slowly back-trolling along the edge of the weed-bed.
There is another bait that garnered some success following a strong summer storm on Cedar Lake some years ago. The bait was a 1/4 oz spinner-bait with an Indiana type blade and a bright fire engine red skirt. Unfortunately for me, it was my brother that owned this bait and it caught him a number of decent "eater" size Pike that day. I remember casting about every spinner-bait, spoon (Hopkins, etc) and crank-bait in my inventory that day without any success. Before this storm rolled in mid-week, the fishing was very good at this lake with Bass and Pike providing action all day long. The day after the storm my brother started pitching this bright red spinner-bait mid-morning and caught those 5 or 6 Pike. I did not catch a fish (having missed several light strikes). Not surprising I invested in several bright red spinner-bait skirts following this trip.
Get Out and Fish Before the Storm as Much as Possible
If you are heading north to Canada this summer, you've already locked in your week and you can only hold out hope for stable weather. However, when you know a storm is coming, try your best to get out and fish the lake as much as you possible as you should have an active bite prior to the storm. Remember, never put yourself in harm's way for a fish and get off the water well before the arrival of the storm. Weather can change from calm to cantankerous in less than 10 minutes. My friends and I now fish close to camp as a storm approaches and use the tips and techniques mentioned above to try and counteract the effects the storm has on the bite. Try these methods and try a few of your own, and hopefully you'll turn around the luck on the water in your favor and bring more fish in your boat.