Fishing for thousands of days over the past 30-plus years, I’ve encountered some pretty wild weather. Here are a few of the extremes that really stand out from the other trips.
Rainiest: Right after college, I made one of my first trips to legendary Lake Fork in Texas. I was unprepared for how much rain Texas receives in the spring. In five days that week, the lake received nearly 10 inches of rain! Even our best rain gear couldn’t handle that. My fishing partner wore neoprene waders under his rain suit, and I lined my allegedly waterproof boots with several plastic grocery bags to keep my feet dry. Despite the gray skies, the fish bit well and I fell in love with the lake, moving here a few years later. And now, I never skimp on buying the best boots!
Snowiest: Before moving to Texas, I suffered the long winters and horrible cabin fever of living in Wisconsin for a few years. As soon as the lakes thawed, I was going fishing, no matter what the weather forecaster said. One spring, part of the lake thawed after a warm week, and my brother and I chipped away skim ice to get back into some good shallow-water canals. Too bad our day off was the day a spring blizzard was blowing in, with temperatures crashing, 40 mph north winds and a total whiteout from sideways-flying snowflakes. Within minutes, the top of my blue bass boat was completely white and I was leaving snowy footprints on the deck. However, the fish hadn’t seen a lure all winter, and with the rapidly falling barometer, we caught more fish that day than we did for about the next 10 trips combined.
Driest: When I bought my first boat, I headed to a local lake one day and in my rush forgot to grab any food or drinks. I managed to find some sunflower seeds in my truck, and that solved the hunger problem. Salty sunflower seeds and the hot summer sun only made my thirst worse though. After a few hours, my thirst was so bad that I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I leaned over the side of my boat and drank directly from the lake — a warm, funky-smelling lake with nasty greenish-brown water. It didn’t taste good, but it got me through the day. I told my mother (a former nurse) that evening and she was furious, telling me to brace for nausea and diarrhea. Thankfully, I didn’t get sick, but I learned my lesson and make sure I’m well prepared for trips nowadays.
Hottest: Stacking hay bales in the barn as a kid on the farm was the hottest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve been hot while fishing in the summer hundreds of times, but as soon as the heat starts to get to me, I think how I could be stacking hay instead, and the heat while fishing is no longer an issue!
Coldest: I’ve fished on plenty of cold days too, but one stands out. After fishing in an all-day cold rain in the spring, a brutal cold front swept through, and temps stayed below freezing the next day. Upon launching my boat, I realized that the wet carpet on my storage lockers had completely frozen shut. With everything sealed up, I wasn’t able to get any rods or lures out of my boat’s storage boxes. Thankfully, I’d left one rod in my truck overnight, so I fished with that same rod and lure all day, being extra-careful not to lose it. I was literally standing on 15 rods and hundreds of lures, but I couldn’t get to any of them.
Craziest: Storms are no joking matter on the water, and tornadoes and water spouts are the worst. On Kentucky Lake in a tournament, a small tornado came across the lake a few miles north of where I was fishing. Even scarier, while filming a fishing show on the flats off of Belize last winter, we counted six water spouts dropping from the clouds, including one that passed through the spot we’d just fished. I caught the biggest snook of my life just before the storm, on camera, so it made for a wild afternoon, to say the least!