A Critical Review Of This Falls Weather
To say this fall had some weird weather would be an understatement. After a fairly cool summer there was a quick and consistent temperature drop throughout September. The temperature rebounded and stabilized in the later part of October and even warmed up during the first week of November! This pattern had us thinking we would be fishing well into December without issues but the end of November hit us with a plunge into frigid temps, crazy winds, and snow to keep us off the water into December.
This weird weather pattern had the fish behaving in odd ways. While we were specifically targeting the biggest pike & muskie finding one bite a day was a grind that took hours. Just as we thought we figured out the patterns the weather shifted drastically and so did the fish behaviour. Since we want to practice what we preach we decided to use this as a case study on reflecting for improvements as we discussed how to do last week.
Throughout September a number of giant pike and muskie were caught in deep weed beds next to deeper water (a typical early fall bite). As October came around the water temperature seemed too cold for this time of year but we kept pounding weedbeds with absolutely no luck. Moving off the weedbeds into deeper water and trolling crankbaits down 10-15 ft produced multiple "fish of a lifetime" quality pike. But, just as we thought we had the plan figured out we spent a full day trolling with nothing to show for it. Moving in towards the weedlines to try and salvage the day with some bass & walleye we stumble into a high 30 or low 40" class pike; strange. The next weekend - same results, but this time with muskie. Spending a couple days the following week chasing muskie we attempted to spend more time shallow but a huge cold front and high winds chased us out. Trolling deep until the end of the season ended up producing one muskie and 2 lost fish.
So what was going on this season? To help us figure it out we decided to plot the weather and water temperature data so we could take a look. From the figure below and our catch data there are a few interesting data points. Every time we had to switch techniques to locate fish corresponded with the start of a major weather shift. The constant cooling had fish moving through their shallow to deep water transition as expected, but the rebounding temperatures brought them back shallow where they stayed until cooling began again.
Looking back with all this data in front of us it seems obvious that the fish would behave this way. On the water experiencing it in real time, now thats a different story. This analysis highlights the importance of knowing the current weather relative to "normal" for the month to help pinpoint these warming trends, cooling trends, or temperature rebounds. When you look at the weather forecast for a week that has a stable temperature of 10 C may not tell you much. Knowing that the 3 weeks previous were all closer to 0 C would make it more obvious that its a significant warming trend and fish may have pushed shallow. On the other end if the past few weeks had been 20 C you would think cold front and move deeper.
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