As I write this column I am camped at one of
my favorite southern Idaho trout fisheries.
After two days of battling windy conditions,
I am diligently striving to write something
interesting and pertinent, when in fact I can't
think of a single worthwhile thing to say about
my three days at Magic Reservoir.
I considered doing a piece on how to fish in windy
conditions. I could describe how noted fly fishing
guru Lefty Kreh teaches that wind is only a state
of mind thing and shouldn't affect a really good
To prove his point at an FFF conclave some years ago,
Lefty false cast one time and drilled a 100-foot cast
dead into a 30-mph wind at West Yellowstone. Yesterday
I spent the entire day practicing Lefty's casting
philosophy. I had two problems: First, although I
try to ignore the wind as Lefty suggests, it still
won't go away; And my line doesn't seem to understand
it's not supposed to be affected.
And second, Lefty's a tad better caster with both
arms in slings and a broken fly rod, than I am on
my best day (I've watched him make his famous 60-foot
barehanded cast). I would have trouble making Lefty's
100-foot West Yellowstone toss if I were casting off
a high cliff with that 30-mph wind at my back.
Some experts maintain windy conditions actually improve
fishing by stirring the water and washing tidbits to
hungry fish. Trout, so the theory goes, know heavy
water produces food and will often work the shoreline
in anticipation. Nevada' Pyramid Lake is a good
example of the "wind is better syndrome."
The first time I fished the big Lahontan cutthroat lake,
my host told me at dinner the night before we were to
fish it, to pray for wind. When I seemed shocked at
his comment, he told me the fishing on the west side
of the lake (where we were going to fish) was always
better with a 20-mph wind in your face.
Now I do a few things well (polishing off 16-ounce
T-bones comes immediately to mind); But casting a
hi-D head into a 20-mph wind isn't one of them.
Having said that, I will admit I've had excellent
fishing in heavy wind. I've also had good fishing
when it has been flat calm, in rain, in snow, etc.
etc. Given a choice, I'd almost always choose flat
and calm. Wind might have been good for Ben Franklin
and the Wright Brothers, but I can (mostly) do
Fishing from a float tube does give the angler a
decided advantage. If there is a breeze strong
enough to cause problems, the tuber can (usually)
position himself and cast either crosswind or downwind.
While non-tubers will sometimes cite stories about
tubes being dangerous in wind...mostly they are not.
I've been blown across more than a few lakes in wind
storms I couldn't paddle against. The biggest problem
I've encountered was hitching a ride back to camp.
(Most of the tubing fatalities that have occurred,
have been when they've been used improperly in streams).
Wind can almost cause a grown man to cry, as it
nearly did twenty-odd years ago at Henry's Lake.
We arrived at the lake late one evening, just in
time to see a fat 8-pound hybrid netted. The
lucky angler gave me a copy of his hot fly, one
he told me had already caught three other such
fish and two dozen only slightly smaller.
I sat up until 1 a.m. dressing a dozen of the
killer flies. Just as I was getting ready for
bed, I heard a soft whine. In five minutes the
wind was rocking our camper. Three days later,
when the wind quit blowing, the relatively shallow
lake was a chocolate brown. I don't remember catching
a trout at Henry's on that trip until the fifth day
of our six-day trip.
Wind can be fickle. As I look out the window of
our camper, at the moment, the lake is almost flat.
For the first time in two days, I can barely see a
riffle. But, just let me get all rigged up, waders
on, tube under my arm, ready to go, and poof,
But Magic Reservoir isn't Henry's Lake. At Henry's
I become paranoid when the wind begins to blow.
Today at Magic I had all the confidence of a Dale
Carnegie honor graduate in positive thinking. I
strung my fly rod, pulled on my waders, grabbed
my float-tube, and headed for the lake. I immediately
hooked a pair of 16-inch rainbows and felt certain
I had the elements under control.
Here I was the only tuber on the lake and the fish
were biting. I was fantasizing about 6-pound rainbows
and browns, when I felt a stirring against the back of
my neck. In five minutes the lake was a sea of whitecaps.
In ten minutes the lake's surface was blowing sideways.
If you tilted your head just right, it looked a lot
like Niagra Falls.
So here I am in front of my trusty old Olympia,
trying to write something interesting and pertinent
about my trip to Magic. In the absence of that
possibility, I guess I will turn to prognosticating
the weather. I will guarantee that two days after
I move my trailer to my next "fishing assignment,"
the weather will turn warm and windless at Magic.
And so it did. ~ Marv
Marv Taylor's books, Float-Tubing The West,
The Successful Angler's Journal,
More Fragments of the Puzzle, (Volume I) and More
Fragments of the Puzzle, (Volume II) are all available from
Marv. You can reach Marv by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 208-322-5760.