Working with the Weather

I studied the weather maps all week. (Is there anyone out there that can direct me to a decent website that has good or at least somewhat good forecasts?) I planned the weekend around the weather as I wanted to go up to my favorite walleye spot at Webster, South Dakota. The name is Lake Waubay. I think there are about 30 lakes within a 30 mile radius of Webster. Regardless of the wind, and it is usually windy, you can find a body of water that is workable. My plans were to leave Thursday evening and be on the lakes first thing Friday morning.

We need to talk a little bit about fishing at Webster. It is beautiful country. Moderate temps prevail and there is no humidity. But there is one thing that can ruin a fishing trip to Webster, and that is the wind. It is unpredictable, and it can get really windy there. I have seen it so bad that not one boat would get out on Waubay Lake. I would rate the lake as a five star lake, but you are only going to be successful about 50% of the time. I have gone up there in the past, fished with a close friend or my wife, and each of us caught 100 walleyes a day a piece. None of them were big, but we caught a lot of fish. The other 50% of the time, I got skunked or just caught a couple for 3 days that were keepers. The lake is totally unpredictable, and in my opinion is it 100% weather dependent. Back to the old saying, wind from the east, fishing is least, wind from the west, fishing is best. The other part of fishing the area is the weather is totally unpredictable. I left on a trip last year with my wife, and she only likes to fish in really nice weather, and it rained for 2 ½ days. God bless her, she stayed right out in it and got skunked right along with me. After it cleared, she hammered the walleyes, thank goodness.

So it was with great hope that I checked the weather Thursday evening, and it had changed from 3 beautiful days to 2 days from hell, and one not so bad. I cancelled the trip before I got going.

My next choice was over to Lake Rathbun in southeast Iowa. Lake Rathbun is a crappie and walleye factory, and I have not been over there for several years. Checking the weather, it looked good, and so I decided to go early Saturday morning, fish for two days and come home with my limits of crappie and walleye. (The best laid plans of mice and men.) Friday night, Council Bluffs was smacked with heavy thunderstorms, and when I got up and looked at the forecasts, the Rathbun area was going to have the same thing. Trip cancelled.

Sunday morning was beautiful. After lunch, my wife and I headed over to Lake Manawa. I generally do not fish this lake in the summer during the day due to heavy pleasure boat traffic, but the wind was from the west. We headed to the west bank, and with a red and silver spinner, I attached a leech and back trolled out to where the no wake zone ends. Around the entire lake is a no wake zone of 80 to 100 yards, and that is where we fish. I boated small fish, had a lot of hits, but put nothing in the live well. Still for four hours, it was fun and the weather was outstanding. I am going back Wednesday evening providing the wind is from the west. This time it will be serious business. Check out the photo section, I have put some pictures of Lake Manawa on it taken today.

Wednesday evening the wind was from the northwest and the forecast was calling for rain in the evening and wind shifting to the northeast. Right after dinner, I hooked up the boat and headed over to Manawa. On the lake by 7 PM, I headed to the southeast corner and along the area that used to be tin can dike. It was a bunch of old wrecked cars, but has now silted in. Just off the bank the water drops quickly down to about 5 feet and that is where I fished. I picked up two 16 inch walleyes, and had some good hits, but then it shut off.

I immediately headed over to the west bank and fished right along the buoy line, and then S turned into the shore. It was getting dark and so I moved closed to the bank. The water temperature was a little on the warm side. I picked up another fish around 9 PM, and then called it quits. The wind shifted to the northeast and I knew it was over.

This lake will shut down with the warmer lake temperatures, and I will have to head over to Rathbun or up to Waubay.

Good fishing, good hunting and good luck. Hank

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