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Wave Heights How big will you fish

#1 User is offline   fenfen 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 11:51 AM

Over the years I have fished in many types of weather and varying wave heights. I have often thought that boaters tend to over estimate the heights of the waves. I have been doing a lot of research on this subject and now I am not too sure.

The largest wave height recorded on the bouy in Lake St. Clair this year has been about 2.6 or 2.7 feet, but the formula they use for the bouy is very complex. They measure what they call significant wave height and then mathmatically figure out wind wave height. They say that the 1/3 of the waves could be up to 200% bigger than the "significant wave height" That would mean on the worst day 1/3 of the waves could have been up to 5.4 feet and localized maybe a little bigger.

So how big of waves are you comfortable fishing in? How big are the biggest waves you have fished in?
And I am talking about Lake St. Clair or maybe Erie, not the ocean.

I have a 19-1/2 foot Champion Fish Hunter, and I know that over 4 ft and I am not too comfortable and likely I would not stay on the water. I fished in what I believe were 5 footers on Erie once and I could not stand up on the front of the boat. The ride back gets a little hairy too.

I've been chased of Saginaw bay a couple of times, but that is another story.

I am very curious to here all the thoughts on this topic.

Check out this site.



Wave Bouy

fenfen


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#2 User is offline   adamfish 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 12:10 PM

Like you said last week when we were out...unless you have a bouy or some other reliable device to measure the waves, people always seem to think they are higher than they actually are. At Wheatley last month I think they were well over four ft consistently with max of about six on Saturday. We were in a great boat - Makowish - that dealt with them really well. Any smaller boat than his or any bigger waves than that would have made it pretty unfishable. As long as I feel safe and am catching fish I'll stay out. When you stop getting fish action you start to get bored and think about the waves. That's when you can get sick or just begin to want to head for home. It's hard to leave good fishing, but safety is always first. That depends a lot on your boat.
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#3 User is offline   troller11 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 12:13 PM

i dont think clair generates that big of waves naturally less gale force winds. i think its more from the boat traffic especially on weekends but when big lake fishing huron/michigan/erie i prefer rough water i think it gives the lures alot more action. flat water your lures troll flat from my personal experince ive always done better in rough conditions. but ive gone out of the harbor with the waves breaking over the breakwall on many occasaions its all what your crew can handle. and i agree alot of people over estimate wave hieght ill be out there and hear people saying 6 footers on the radio and theyre not even 2ft waves. i guess theyre fishing from small boats. the only warning i can give about fishing in big waves dont troll with them go into them. ive seen 3 boats sunk from people trolling with the waves. all were the captains fault the wave breaks over the back of the boat and pushes the back under filling the boat with water. that was one of the first rules i learned in boating point the nose into the wind in rough seas plus waves over the hard top just keeps the crew cooled off on these hot summer days
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#4 User is offline   Hoov 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 12:18 PM

huh.gif 4 footers...come on Fen thats just getting started in your boat... laugh.gif
Brian.... Live everyday until bedtime.......
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#5 User is online   h2o 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 12:40 PM

Seen it all, almost. To begin with weather being a hobby, I know whats going on before I pull the go trigger so I'm out on nice days now. Whitecaps mean to me go time game over. But that's me.

I can't enjoy myself having to be concerned about falling in the boat fishing. Having to look for waves to hold on just don't get it.

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#6 User is offline   Czar 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 01:46 PM

I`ve been in legitimate 7 footers on Erie. Not for long though. Waves like that are no fun.
God grant that I may live to fish until my dying day, and when it comes to my last cast I then most humbly pray. When in the Lords safe landing net I`m peacefully asleep, that in his mercy I be judged as big enough to keep.
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#7 User is offline   D-Man 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 01:55 PM

I have been in solid 5 ftr's this year on st.clair at least twice....I have a 22 ft bass boat and I was taking water every wave..the pumps never stopped all day. I fish in almost anything, but the confort threshold is about 3.5 ftr's on st.clair and 5 ftr's on erie (they roll much nicer typically). THAT DOESN'T MEAN I AM RIGHT OR SMART FISHING IN THAT CRAP!!!
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#8 User is offline   islander 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 02:13 PM

22 ft Islander

The biggest I've been in were 7's out of Muskegon last year. Made one short troll, lost a downrigger weight and my cooler off the swim platform and called it quits. I was out in the 5's with the occasional 6 that Adam was out in on Erie. I called it quits after I saw what looked to be 4 6-7 footers in a row.

Normally my level of desperation has a large part in how big I will fish. If I drove a long way and have only one day to fish plus an experienced crew and the fish are snapping I'll go in 5 footers. If all of these things aren't on the table I'll limit myself to 3 footers. Anything more than 3 footers takes a lot of the fun out of it. Ends up being too much like work biggrin.gif
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#9 User is offline   makowish 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 02:21 PM

I was caught in 8-10's three years ago fishing in Lexington. We were out trolling around near the Regina which is approx 7 miles north east of the harbor. I knew a storm was coming in, I just didn't know how fast. They were 1-2's with an occational 3 for the majority of the morning, then the north wind came blowing. We had some of the strongest gale winds I've ever seen on that day. I had my buddy, my step-dad and his father in law in the Mako. This is the difference 15 minutes made on that lake. The white water was the last pic I took before the storm came in and the weather turned to sheet. Should have packed it up when we saw the whiteys comin. It was a very wet and cold ride back to port. Actually had to follow the waves, pass Lex harbor then turn around and take a wave over the side to come back. Everyone was safe and sound though. Just a bit chilled. Just as we got in, the coasties were on their way out.

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This post has been edited by makowish: 13 August 2007 - 02:24 PM

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#10 User is offline   AlexG 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 02:52 PM

I have been out in 3 foot waves with my 15' boat. It was not the best of rides back but for fishing the best day I have had for muskie trolling has been a day with moderate wind and 1-2 foot waves mixed. Getting in anything more than that I need be very careful normally I head in. I know there was one time this year the NOAA posted 1 foot or less and that was a garbage forecast. The waves started out as 1 foot but by noon they were pushing 2.5 and that was not a fun ride. I normally judge wave height by looking at the entire wave and dividing the total height by half. So a wave troff to Crest is 2 feet then its a 1 foot wave IMO. Its also difficult to say the entire lake will have one size of wave. If you are are on the side of the lake were the wind has had little distance to travel over the water then the waves will probably be smaller than where the wind has been blowing over the water for several miles.
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#11 User is offline   Big Dog 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 03:30 PM

I've only been out on LSC once when I knew I shouldn't have. We got caught in a heck of a storm that didn't blow over like I guessed it would. Heading back into a north wind and roughly 4 footers isn't my idea of fun.
I didn't mind the waves quite as much as watching the lightening, some that were fairly close. We ended up following the storm from 11 Mile all the way back to Harley at a whopping 10MPH, any faster was out of the question.
We decided to put the canvas up for the ride back and gave up the thought with the winds knocking it back down faster than we could snap the snaps into place.
Too bad I didn't have a bar of soap on board I could have had my shower on the way back in rolleyes.gif
I've learned now to keep a det of dry clothes in the Bronco if the day looks iffy. I was so wet when we got to back to the ramp I didn't want to even get in the truck in those wet clothes. Headed to the bathroom, took everything off, wrung out as much water as I could and pulled the floormat up onto the seat for the ride home.
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#12 User is offline   Broadcast 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 06:30 PM

Obviously depends on the stability of your craft. Have been out on Lk MI in legitimate 10-12fters verified by weather bouys. Tough to fish in and definately no fun. felt like on a stair climber the whole trip.

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#13 User is offline   kf8xo 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 06:45 PM

3 footers on St. Clair in a 16' Runabout. Good fishing that day though.
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#14 User is offline   fishhogg 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 08:40 PM

Over the years that I have been fishing Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, I have been out in weather that I had no buisness in at all. I have fished in and caught fish in honest 6-8 ftrs on Erie and come back in 10-12's not the smartest thing that I have ever done, and I don't recomend that anyone else try this. These days I call it off in 4-6ftrs and don't bother going out in 3-5's. Just not as mad at them as I used to be. What I like most about St. Clair is that you don't have to fish rough water if you don't want to. There is always a lee side to get out of the wind or go to the rivers and fish.
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#15 User is offline   kayceedee 

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Posted 13 August 2007 - 09:53 PM

QUOTE(troller11 @ Aug 13 2007, 01:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
i dont think clair generates that big of waves naturally less gale force winds. i think its more from the boat traffic especially on weekends but when big lake fishing huron/michigan/erie i prefer rough water i think it gives the lures alot more action. flat water your lures troll flat from my personal experince ive always done better in rough conditions. but ive gone out of the harbor with the waves breaking over the breakwall on many occasaions its all what your crew can handle. and i agree alot of people over estimate wave hieght ill be out there and hear people saying 6 footers on the radio and theyre not even 2ft waves. i guess theyre fishing from small boats. the only warning i can give about fishing in big waves dont troll with them go into them. ive seen 3 boats sunk from people trolling with the waves. all were the captains fault the wave breaks over the back of the boat and pushes the back under filling the boat with water. that was one of the first rules i learned in boating point the nose into the wind in rough seas plus waves over the hard top just keeps the crew cooled off on these hot summer days


I agree with you Troller... alot of people over estimate. I was out on erie earlier this year and guys were coming back to launch talking about 5-6 footers with the occasional 7. We got out and there were no more than 3 foot waves. I have fished in some big waves on lake Michigan, but have a boat built for it and I can say that anything over 5 foot gets awfully hard to even fish in, 3-4 are hard work and anyone fishing in anything bigger than 5-6 is either a glutton for punishment or may be overestimating.

"Wishin' I was Fishin'!"



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