Home Fishing Tips & Advice Can You Catch Fish in Choppy Water?

Can You Catch Fish in Choppy Water?

If you like adrenaline, then perhaps catching fish in choppy waters is for you, and yes, it is possible but it can be dangerous as well. Sometimes, teamwork is the best solution for fishing in rough conditions.

The captain should always make sure, before heading out into big waves, that the door latches are secured, the fishing gear is good, and that overall the ship and crew is prepared for what lies ahead.

Can you catch fish in choppy water? Yes, catching fish in choppy waters is possible, and you can catch some big ones if you’re lucky. With that being said, here are some tips on catching fish in choppy or rough waters, and more. If the water is choppy, incorporating a chugger head and ballyhoo will do you good. If the water is rougher, a flathead will ensure that your lure stays in the water.

Fishing in Choppy Waters

Many of us like to go fishing on calm waters, however, fishing in rougher conditions can lead to the same, if not even greater catches of fish.

Choppy waters can make certain fish such as panfish, walleyes, bass, pikes, or other big game fish, very active, with every cast potentially leading to a hit.

When you get a wind change, don’t be afraid to go fishing to the windy side of the lake. An approaching storm will turn on panfish, bass, or walleye.

Never fight the weather as it won’t get you far, instead, work with it. Think of it this way, fish change their movement based on the waves, so for example, tuna and billfish tail down the sea to cover more ground and thus wasting less physical energy, and they will look for food.

The best part is when water is rough, the fish won’t see your hooks and leaders, and they won’t get as easily spooked. The correct fishing tackle should be heavy, which is necessary for these conditions.

Stay sharp on your feet, and be aware of your surroundings, for strong winds might carry line right off of fishing reels. Your rods should be free spooled and in their holders most of the time.

If you can add an extra bilge pump to your boat, such as a trolling motor that features Spot-Lock, you will hold your boat where you want it to, and you can keep your feet planted firmly on the deck.

Remember, don’t fight the wind, fish with the wind. Fishing in shallow flats without a spinner or crankbait, might not get you far, since the fish will be very aggressive during bad weather and windy conditions.

Use a lure that is efficient for depth zones, such as a heavy drop-shot rig for example, which gets down to the bottom in no time, and thus you will stay in contact with your line and bait as the boat rides the waves.

If you are fishing with the wind, you’ll keep your baits from bouncing up and down, and you will feel them better. If you are fishing into the wind, then you will have a hard time being able to stay in contact with your lures.

Trolling spreads will usually differ in rough water. In larger seas, for example, its best to troll with your bait somehow closer to the fishing boat. This helps in preventing them from blowing farther out and thus it will be easier to feel the bites.


You can catch fish in choppy water or rough water, but you have to be prepared. Analyze your surroundings, stay aware, check your gear, and you might come home with a big catch and/or an awesome story or two.

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Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing. His favorite fish to catch is a striped bass and his favorite bait to use is bunker. Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years.