No Fish, So Let's Talk About The Weather
Getting Good Fishing Weather

Harbor Angler Report, May 1 Photo

It was tough getting out fishing this week. Not only was the weather an issue (gale force winds and caps on the lake) but other obligations cut into my time on the water. I did manage to get out once with some fishing buds, Jim & Mike. We put in at the Baileys Harbor Marina. The water temperatures were a balmy 45F with a moderate winds out of the north and building. We were targeting browns, but Kevin Naze in his DC Advocate column noted that some salmon were being caught in shallow already, so who knows. We tried various depths 10-35 FOW with various lures (spoons, stick baits) with little success. We did manage one "fish on" but lost it halfway in. Pretty sure it was a brown. We fished for about three hours before the winds (and lack of success) forced us off the water. Mark at the BH Marina said that some browns have been coming in. Fish are still out there, but they seem to be becoming a bit more scattered.

Since weather was such an issue this week (and will continue to be all season), let me say a few things about getting good, local and timely weather information. Not only is weather of interest to me for fishing, but I also teach meteorology for the University of Wisconsin Colleges, so I have a professional interest as well. I tend to look at a lot of weather sites and data sets daily. My best advice is to find a weather site that you can access and understand and use it consistently. Avoid jumping to different sites. Each site will have its own biases and formats. It is best not to mix and match. As for me, I go to the National Weather Service Green Bay Forecast Office site for my initial look at conditions and forecasts. No matter where you get your weather information, all of the data and model forecasts come from the same place, the NWS. So I figure cut out the middle-man and go to the source. Once on the site, you can click on the regional map and get a specific forecast for a specific location right down to the boat launch. If you click on a marine location (Green Bay or Lake Michigan) you will also get a marine forecast tailored for those on the water.

The feature I find most useful is the Hourly Weather Forecast graph. Scroll down the page and you will see it on the right hand side. This might look different on a mobile device, but you can still find it. If you click on the graph, you will see hour-by-hour forecasts of temperature, sky conditions and most importantly, winds. If you are on a marine location, you will also get wave heights and periods. I find these wind forecasts remarkably accurate. I often plan my fishing locations by when and where the winds will shift. One key point, when reading the wind directions on the graph, the little shafts point into the wind. So a shaft pointing up is indicating a north wind, to the right, an east wind and so forth. The little flags indicate wind speed. Each flag is 10knots.

I know the conventional wisdom is that "the weathermen are always wrong". This is outdated. The statistics (remember facts?) do not bear this out. 24-hour forecasts are within 90% verified and 72-hour forecasts are 70% verified. After that it falls off quite a bit. It is always important before you go out fishing to check the latest forecast. Don't rely on an outlook you last checked a couple of days ago.

Next time I don't catch any fish (which will probably be next time) I'll give you some pointers on obtaining very local conditions in real time.

With the opener coming up this weekend our attention will shift to smallmouth bass and walleyes. The tournament anglers will be out in force. Hopefully the water will warm up soon.


Tight lines, Bruce