Weather Portal

To Fish or Not to Fish

Everybody who has been on the water anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic knows first hand how unforgiving our weather can be. A good trip and can turn into a not so good trip or even a nightmare if you caught out in bad weather.  Having my butt handed to me several times over the years (it happens to everyone), I’ve learned to look at multiple weather sources for forecasts.  Here I’ll share some of my common sites I use for getting the weather.  Please note, every boat owner and Captain has to make their own decisions based on their experience, how big their boat is, and how their boat and crew handles bigger seas.
 
First I do look at NOAA NWS.  While many curse the weatherman for getting it wrong, I will say they are right more often than wrong.  First I look all the zones I’ll be in.  Not just the ones I am fishing in, but any zone I have to travel across to get to where I’m fishing.  NOAA has recently created more segments and several offshore segments which gets us more refined data.  Once you click a zone, you can also click a spot on their map for a more precise forecast.
 
http://www.weather.gov/akq/
 
 Then I’ll look at windguru.  Windguru is a site for surfers looking for big waves and surf.  Ironically, windguru is a service from the Czech Republich, a land locked country.  The more stars you see on their site the better for surfers but worse for us fisherman looking for light winds and small waves.  Windguru provides several models (GFS, NAM and HRW).  The GFS model gives 7 full days of forecast and I’ll look here first to see if there are any fishable days in the 7 day forecast.  As you get closer, I begin to check the other 2 models.  Normally as you get closer to your planned trip, the models begin to agree with other but sometimes they don’t.  If you depart the docks with all the models still disagreeing you are really rolling the dice on what the conditions will be.  I’m a windguru pro member and can click any spot anywhere and get the forecast.  I’ll provide some widget views on this page to give some local spot forecasts.
 
http://www.windguru.cz/int/index.php?sc=197
  
I’ll then look at Fishweather.  I do like the old fishweather better but the new one is not bad either.  Just before a trip in the early hours while drinking my coffee trying to wake up, I’ll check to see what the winds are doing.  One glance at the tidewater area of Virginia and I can immediately tell what the conditions are right now.  Are the winds doing what the forecast called for?  Fishweather also provides model wind forecasts.  And yes the GFS model is the same no matter where you get the data from.  I get the question all the time, which is more accurate, windguru, buoyweather, or fishweather.  The question should really be which model is more accurate, GFS, NAM, ect.  I don’t know the answer to this question as I’ve seen them all right before and I’ve seen them all wrong before.
 
http://new.fishweather.com/en-us/Search/ViewResults.aspx#37.025,-76.131,10,1
 
 Then I’ll look at intellicast wind models.  Intellicast shows the NAM model in graphical format.  This is good because you might find you are fishing right on the edge of a wind zone with the model showing light winds but just to your south may be strong winds.  This is risky to fish this close to strong winds as it does not take much for this to shift to your area.
 
http://www.intellicast.com/National/Wind/WINDcast.aspx?region=ric
 
Buoyweather is pretty good providing a 7 day forecast for any spot you click.  It presents the GFS model in text format with cautionary flags.  Just like any modeled forecast, the farther out you are looking, the more inaccurate it is and probably will change many times before your trip.
 
http://www.buoyweather.com
  
Swellinfo has some good data.  Click around this site for a graphical portrayal of winds and seas.
 
http://www.swellinfo.com/surf-forecast/nags-head-north-carolina
 
Don’t discount the normal 10 day forecast from Weather.com.  The wind forecast may be light and variable but getting caught in a thunderstorm, especially offshore, is not fun.
 
http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday/Hampton+VA+23664:4:US
  
There are more sites out there.  My main point is don’t just rely on one source. Check multiple sites.  But if you’re waiting that perfect forecast with mild temps, high pressure sunshine, winds 5 knots all day with seas 1 foot or less, you may not fish very often.  But be cautious and don’t take unnecessary chances.  The fish will be there tomorrow (maybe).
 

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