Welcome to Panfish

Part Thirty

This Thing Called Weather, er, Whether, uhmm, No, Weather

By Randy Fratzke

It has really been a weird couple of years, weather-wise. We've had El Nino, La Nina, hurricanes, and tornadoes, heat when it's supposed to be cold, cold when it's supposed to be warm, rain when it's supposed to be dry, near droughts in the east, and torrential down pours in the west... I'm just darn glad that I'm not a meteorologist! Considering how important weather is to anglers, and the effect it has on the fish, I'm surprised anyone has caught any fish at all this year.

We had one of the mildest winters on record last year. The river here at the house was only frozen over for three short weeks. In some respects it was great. I fished nearly the entire winter in open water. Unfortunately, the flip side, is that it's the cold weather and ice that kills off the algae and vegetation that clogs the stream. Which meant that this spring and summer, the fishing should have been a little more difficult because of the weeds. Instead, we had heavy rains and floods for 2 months this spring which ripped the vegetation out. My entire front yard was under water for nearly 2 months! Then we had the exact opposite, almost 2 months of no rain at all. They had opened the flood gates at the dam down stream during high water for so long that they were jammed and had to be forced back into place. By the time they had done that the river was so low that most boat traffic couldn't navigate this far upstream. (This was a plus, at least in my mind!)

A month ago it started getting cold...the first thing that was actually "normal". It frosted a couple of days, hit the low 20's, the fish went through their usual fall feeding frenzy, and all was right with the world...at least here. The southwest was having some of the worst flooding in history. Some of the most devastating hurricanes in history hit the Caribbean and Central America. Now, after the fall feeding frenzy the fish headed for their winter spots and suddenly, fall was over. Not followed by winter, but followed by weather that is almost like summer. 60 to 70 degrees for the last 2 weeks, warm gentle summer rains. Suddenly, the fish are back in their summer haunts...they must think they're a year older already. And what do we have in other places? Monsoons in the great Northwest, and near droughts again out east.

I guess no one knows, including the fish, what's next. One day I'm fishing for crappies and bass, the next I'm back to walleyes. The pike are just swimming in circles and the blue gills just sit under their logs, totally confused. I'm not sure even what flies to use anymore, we have hatches that are totally out of season, even gnats and mosquitoes are out in force (it's December for Gods sake!) I guess it comes down to fish if you can, when you can, where you can, and if you can. The weather will be weather, whether you want it or not. Some say it's because we've messed with Mother Nature...others say it's just an unusual, but natural phenomenon that happens once in a while. I guess it gets down to one thing: At least it's nice we're having weather, the alternative wouldn't be good! ~ Randy Fratzke

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