Mother Nature made those cat-sized members of the American weasel family the way they are, so they, therefore, need no excuses for being themselves. Fishermen, on the other hand, though, often have a wealth of excuses for why they had a "bad day" on the water.
For example, you're likely to hear some say, "They weren't biting today," while others may try to blame a cold front for their woes. And, you even may hear this from a few: "It was just too nice of a day." Yes, fishermen indeed can be "full of excuses"--along with some other things I'm deliberately choosing not to talk about in this forum.
If the truth be told, however, fishermen likely would dodge more skunks if they just changed their pattern and/or used their brain to adapt to changing weather conditions. When fish are biting, there's usually a reason for it--like an incoming storm or front, which turns on the fish. When they aren't biting, it many times is because you're simply on the wrong side of a weather pattern.
A cold front or other weather pattern, however, doesn't mean you should call it quits and go home. All it means is that you should adjust your fishing presentation and/or move to a new location.
Here are some tough fishing conditions I found discussed online, along with suggestions to decrease your chances of ending up skunked because of them.
These quickly can turn what you figured would be a great day into a bad one. What you need to remember, though, is that cold fronts don't completely shut off the bite. The fish simply move to a new location and likely become a bit more picky about what they will and won't hit. Look for them on structure and go over the areas thoroughly with smaller baits. Texas-rigged tubes or slow-rolled spinnerbaits often will pick up bass during cold fronts.
It's beautiful out--not a cloud in the sky, and there's no wind to be found anywhere. A fisherman's dream--right? Wrong! Blue-bird skies are a bad thing when it comes to fishing, and it can make for a tough day, but the good news is that you still can be successful.
The trend during such conditions is for fish to move out to deeper structure. Focus your efforts on deep-water humps and structure, such as brush piles or submerged trees. Fish move to these areas to escape the bright sunlight and/or to follow baitfish that move deeper during bright days.
Some good bait choices with blue-bird skies are Carolina rigs, deep-diving crankbaits, plastic worms, and tubes.
It's Too Windy!
While that's the way some fishermen feel at times, others see windy days as their favorites.
"It breaks up the top of the water and pushes baitfish to the bank where predator fish lie waiting for an easy meal," says the core of advocates.
Granted, it's difficult holding the boat in position, and casting can be a bear, but the potential reward makes it all worthwhile.
Some of the best lures to use are crankbaits, spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits, and jerkbaits. Concentrate on areas where the wind is blowing directly onto the bank--the harder, the better. These strong winds usually occur on the front end of a front, such as a storm or cold front, and generally signal aggressive feeding activity.
Based on some recent personal experiences, I have to take exception to this idea of fishing only those banks where the wind is blowing directly on them. I fished such a bank this past Wednesday for two hours without drawing a single strike. On two earlier occasions in the not-too-distant past, however, when the wind was blowing off the same bank, I went there and caught multiple fish each time. Admittedly, the water was muddy this latest trip, whereas it was clear the two earlier times, so that factor could have spelled the difference. I simply can't say for certain.
While I still was formulating my ideas for this article, I did some online research and also asked some friends for their input about what they considered their best go-to lures for avoiding skunks. The following are three results from my online research.
One fella said he used a purple, curly-tail powerbait worm, with a 1/16-oz. screw-in bullet weight to "kill them all day during the summer and winter, alike. I get some good, big fish, mixed in with some smaller ones, so it's always my go-to lure for avoiding a skunk," he said.
Another fella said his go-to lure to avoid skunks is a bubble-gum super fluke.
"The Strike King tour-grade football jig is great for working both rocks and pulling it through submerged weeds," said yet another angler. "It comes in great color combinations and easily pairs up with a huge variety of trailers--the XCite Raptor chunks or Rage baby craws are perfect. This jig will keep your next fishing trip skunk-free, guaranteed."
Here is what I got from friends:
Charlie said: "My year-round go-to is the Yo-Zuri SS Minnow--a shallow-water wonder. Spring through fall, when the water is above 60 degrees, my go-to is a Berkley Chigger Craw in green pumpkin, with a 1/8-oz. pegged bullet weight, one for 2 to 3 feet deep, and one for bottom structure. When I find the depth that works, I pretty much stick with that scenario for the rest of the day."
Skip said: "My go-to lure is a Strike King 3X Zulu. It's like a fluke but has a little more action. It can work like a popper, swim like a fluke, or you can work it like a jerkbait. I also have crimped a split shot and fished the bait Carolina style."
Jim said: "When the chips are down, you'll usually find me with a worm rod and a Charlie Brewer slider worm. No matter what else I toss, I always seem to come back to that. Of course, I've been known to grab a Pop-R if the weather is ripe for topwater. Those two baits seem to work around here. If I'm down on Gaston, my go-to is a Zoom centipede (French fry)--that bait always gets it done."
Rob said: "A small finesse worm is my normal go-to bait."
I used to consider flat-sided crankbaits, especially the Bill Norman Thin N, as my go-to winter choice, but experience the past couple of years has shown me that the Bomber Square A is a better performer, regardless of the time of year. I have enough confidence in it that I wouldn't hesitate to choose it if I were limited to only one bait. I would want a selection of both 1/4- and 3/8-oz. sizes, because there are occasions when one size seems to work better than the other, most notably in early spring, when the 1/4-oz. models frequently outshine the bigger ones.
The intended take-away from this discussion isn't as I saw one fella suggest online, and that is just to "stop fishing" in order to avoid skunks. Rather, what you need to do is adjust your presentation and/or move to a different location. Tight Lines!