The Truth About Wind and Fishing

Wind from the east, fish bite the least;
Wind from the west, the fish bite the best;
Wind from the north, few sailors set forth;
Wind from the south blows bait in their mouth.

I’ve heard variations of this old fishing rhyme at least a thousand times since I was a kid. While it’s not always correct, the little proverb is a good predictor for fishing trips across most of the U.S.

Fishing with two local Scouts at Florida Sea Base. The west wind was blowing right before a big storm rolled in, and they were biting!
Fishing with two local Scouts at Florida Sea Base. The west wind was blowing right before a big storm rolled in, and they were biting!

The wind direction doesn’t cause fish to bite, but the reason behind the wind direction often does. For example, an east wind usually blows after a big cold front. A rapid drop in water temperature is a shock to the entire aquatic ecosystem, especially the bottom of the food chain, so it shouldn’t be surprising that this is the kiss of death for catching fish. A west wind, on the other hand, usually happens right before a storm hits. Sensing the changing conditions, fish often go on a binge right before the front, which makes for the awesome fishing stories we remember so well. The north wind is also associated with the aforementioned cold front, and regardless of the fishing, cold air and big waves make most boaters think twice about going out. Finally, south winds blow during warm-ups in the spring and fall, or stable weather during the summer, both of which are normally agreeable to the fishermen and the fish.

Another old saying is that “wind is the fisherman’s friend.” I tend to agree with that. A bit of chop on the water reduces the visibility underwater, so fish can’t readily see the flaws in your bait. Furthermore, the wave action along the shore often stirs up the bottom of the food chain, giving the big fish a reason to feed. Therefore, I’ll take an east wind or a north wind over no wind.

Everything in moderation, though. Trust me — a 50-mph wind is not your friend, even if it is from the west!

You can also follow Tom’s fishing tips and updates at and

About Tom Redington’s Blog

Welcome to my exclusive fishing blog for Boys' Life magazine. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you in the coming months.

From fishing as a pro on the FLW Tour bass circuit to guiding, filming fishing shows and fun fishing with my Cub Scout son, I spend a lot of time on the water around the country.

I’ll pass along some of my fishing tips, keep you updated on what’s happening in the world of fishing, and tell you about some of my experiences in the great outdoors.


  1. I just seen a info film on your show about sonar and how to use and read them. Your breakdown and knowledge was as good as I have seen and detail, keep us the great work!

  2. Use wet flies. Of course, you need to use wet flies or flies with little wind resistance when the wind is very strong. Weighted nymphs are best in terms of low wind resistance. Since the wind ruffles the river s surface, you don t need to worry about the sloppy casts that are associated with wind casting, they likely will not spook the fish.

  3. I heard my Dad use this little poem all my childhood. It was nice to find out the science behind it. Thanks.

  4. Going offshore fishing on Saturday and have a south southeast wind is that good or bad new to South Florida any help would be appreciated

    • Wind out of the SW 90% of the time in South Fl.
      It should be settled and somewhat calm.
      Fishing good to excellent in these conditions.

    • if your just going fishing well ??? But if your going catching then fishing on a So east wind offshore in So Florida is touch and go. If it’s on a quarter moon or less that always helps any kind of fishing. But if it half to full moon then the fish can see to feed at night. I never fished on a full moon in clear skies. Anyway just some tidbits.

  5. That was very useful. But, is the same theory applies to all locations? For example, in my area, it is the best to fish during N, W, NW, and WNW. I have been observing this over 5 years, considering the moonrise, moonset, and tides.
    I loved your article a lot

  6. Just an FYI, the correct quote is “When the wind is in the east, then the fishes bite the least; When the wind is in the west, then the fishes bite the best. When the wind is in the north, the prudent angler goes not forth; When the wind is in the south, it blows the bait in the fishes mouth.”

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