Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

What's your least favourite wind direction?

Yes, I know, when the wind's in the east the fish bite least and so on, but ladies and gentlemen, I would like to put forward a north west wind as perhaps the biggest steaming pile of poo of a wind direction there is. If you are into saltwater fishing then it can't have escaped your attention that the direction and strength of the wind plays a huge part in your fishing, and of course where you live will play a big part in how the wind affects you. I get what an east wind does and how it can affect the fishing in some places, but for the life of me I can't get my head around an infernal north west wind............

It's one of those winds that you keep convincing yourself could actually do you a bit of good on the fishing front, but then it goes and let you down like it nearly always does. A north west wind howls down most of our rivers and estuaries here on the south coasts of Devon and Cornwall, and whilst I struggled to find many patterns when I used to fish Devil's Point a lot (the mouth of the River Tamar), it could be pretty bloody miserable fishing down there when it was blowing a north west gale. Smack bang in your kisser and take that sir.

I used to fish a fair bit for cod on the north coasts of Devon and Cornwall, and whilst I used to love a proper south westerly blow, I distinctly remember convincing myself on numerous occasions that a north westerly could also get things going because because it came in and from the side and would surely do lots of good with stirring up the bottom and bringing the cod in. But it rarely bloody did. OK, so this had a lot to do with just needing to get out fishing, but without doubt my meagre returns began to sow the seeds of doubt with north westerly winds - and although I can't prove it, I am 100% convinced that we get more north west winds than we ever used to.

Fishing for thornback rays up on the Bristol Channel was something I really loved doing. When you fish specific marks a fair bit, you naturally start to better work things out and come up with various theories I suppose, and on one particular, very shallow reef I became convinced that if there were any wavelets on the water then my chances of catching any thornies went down drastically. It might sound daft, but my theory was that the water was so shallow, the sound of waves tumbling over the reef quite simply put the rays off and they would stay out in deeper water. And yes, my best fishing on this reef was on light southerly winds.

But how many times did I watch the forecast and then convince myself that the forecast 5mph NW wind would mean that the water up there would still be nice and flat? I would leave Plymouth on a perfect tide and with not a breath of wind, but an hour and a half or so later I'd be parked up and getting the gear out of the van and cursing both the fresh NW wind (5mph my arse) and myself for having hoped against hope that there could actually be such a thing as a light NW up on the north coast. I'd fish of course, catch either squat or very little, and then vow to myself that I would never, ever head up to these reefs on a forecast that even whispered of a NW wind. But we are anglers and we hope eternal, and I would make the same mistake a few times more because I was just so damn keen on getting up there.

I'm not saying that I haven't had any good lure fishing on a NW wind, because I have. Same on an east, although neither wind directions exactly float my boat. The problem with a NW wind for me is that logic says to us that it could actually be a decent direction when you need things flattened off a bit of example, or you're fishing into it and need a bit of kick on the sea. But it just seems to do neither very well, and for some reason it seems to me that many fish we might fish for around our coastline just aren't big into feeding when the wind blows from the north west. It's the kind of wind that tricks you I reckon, in that you can get to a spot on a north westerly and sometimes think yes, conditions actually look pretty tasty thanks very much - but more often than not for me it then doesn't fish like you imagine it might. One of fishing's eternal mysteries?

It's not all bad though! I partly forgive you north westerlies, because you can for example get the most awesome god beamage around here when the wind comes from that direction. Head up to the old chapel on top of Rame Head and you can sometimes sit there and just marvel at the beams of light playing out across the sea. Often it's a north west that gives us that typical Brit weather of sunshine and showers, and when that sun breaks through in amongst some dark, moody skies, well that can be some pretty special light. I might mostly despise you north westerlies, but from time to time I crave the light you choose to provide - not sure the fish do though.........

Henry Gilbey4 Comments