Last month on the first competition day of the Texas Invitational I encountered some rough water that I believed only existed in the Gulf of Mexico. Sure I have been on Toledo, Livingston, Conroe, Rayburn, and Richland Chambers when they have gotten profoundly rough due to high winds. But this first day of the tournament at Rayburn was a bit beyond that. When we left out early that morning the wind was blowing about fifteen to twenty miles per hour, rough but manageable. Six hours later the wind speed had doubled and we now had five to eight footers rolling from the south end of the lake. Well my partner and I were up the lake some twenty miles and had to drive south right into the wind to get back to Twin Dikes Marina. The waves in the middle of the lake were monsters ready to swallow any bassfisherman and his bass boat whole, so the middle of the lake is no place to be when the wind is blowing that hard. When the wind blows up or down a lake, the main lake channels the wind up the middle and so running one bank or the other is usually going to be the safest, most protected place to be. Running behind any point that extends out into the lake and breaks the wave action will work for some of your run back. When you run out of protected water you just have to power through the big stuff taking it nice and easy, one wave at a time. Tacking back and forth will keep you cutting the waves at angles and allows you less of a chance of spearing or submarining into a wave. Picking one side of the lake or the other can be tricky when the wind blows like it did that first tournament day. Once that day, I came around one of the mainlake points where the waves were so big that I could not make much progress. Three miles across the lake I knew of a point that extended out into the lake and I knew if I could get across the lake that I could run behind that point for a couple of miles. So I turned the boat across the wind and headed across the lake. This move would not pay off until I reached the other shoreline but then I could turn downlake and continue towards weigh in. Playing the wind is tricky because the wind can curl around the points and into coves, but utilizing the mainlake points is one tip to remember when running big water on our massive lakes. Keeping your cool and being patient also increases your chances of conquering big water. Although I must admit that in that big water the first day it was as if I could not hear anything at all and fear was creeping in. I could not hear the wind or the water I could only feel the aloneness that Mother Natures fury forces on you when shes almost got you, it is the loneliest feeling in the world. Hopefully you will not ever be caught in this type of situation, but if you ever do utilize some of these tips and I promise they will help you to survive the storm. Bill Cannan
Professional Guide and Tournament Angler