Hurricane Season by Debbie Kay
The changing weather of autumn is the hurricane season. It brings with it a number of different storms. Hurricanes, tropical storms, monsoons and typhoons are stirred up as the switch from warm to cool (or vice-versa in the Southern Hemisphere) creates inverted weather systems that make the wind blow with severe force. Everyone knows that during a storm, property and people are at risk. But what about fish? It turns out that a storm can create a number of different distribution patterns for fish that the intrepid fisher can use to his or her advantage. Here are some of the changes that can occur, and how they can benefit you:
Much of the water in a coastal area will change in salinity during a hurricane. This can work both ways. Brackish or fresh water may get a surge of salt as winds push tides inland. Saltier bodies may get a huge influx of rainfall to lower salinity. Both of these offer opportunities for fish to explore further than they normally would. Quiet bays that were closed to freshwater fish may find some curious inhabitants found in salt marshes. Salt marsh and saltwater coastal fish may push upstream with the salinity boost. This can mean that you’re catching surprise species further afield than normal. Look for areas sheltered from wind and current where the fish could have sought safe harbor.
The erosion processes of storm surges can carve new channels for streams and can get them to shift back into historical water routes. This means new fishing opportunities once the turbidity of the water has settled, and it also means an easy target in stranded oxbows left over from the pre-storm stream channel. This is especially true in areas like the Pacific Northwest, where winter’s flooding rains can shift major streams 20-feet across into completely different riverbeds.
Wetlands and marshes connected to waterways are a great place to find fish after a storm. They represent quieter water that is typically safe from major change, and therefore a great refuge for fish. As they don’t represent typical feeding grounds for many of these fish, they will typically be curious to find what’s available to eat in their new digs, and will bite readily.
Hurricane Season Downfalls:
In inland lakes separate from coastal waterways, fish are going to be drawn to places where there are downed trees or other large messes of vegetation. This is because they offer several benefits. Protection from predators with the screen of vegetation. Food in the form of rotting leaves and insects also eating them. And protection from microcurrents caused by continuing winds. Take your lake to the areas most affected– a downed tree in the water is perfect for exploring new fish habitat.
Often, water tops a riverbank during these storms, which allows fish to swim sideways out of their streams. Some get stuck in puddles, ditches and other places far from their stream when the water dries. Stream-edge areas of standing water are a great place to find surprise fish after a major flood.
No matter where you find storms, and what they look like in your region, they can be great opportunities to find fish in new areas, as well as high concentrations of hungry fish in sheltered places. Once the weather has cleared, the hurricane season has some great opportunities to up your fishing game.