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“Weather” or Not the Crappie Will Bite

We talked with avid angler and professional meteorologist Dick Faurot about the effects of weather on fishing.

Most of us who have a passion for outdoor activities – like crappie fishing – are adept at staying on top of the weather. We have our favorite phone weather apps at our fingertips, and we know how to use them. In fact, we might be more accurate in forecasting our backyard weather than are the TV weather folks, right?

My longtime fishing buddy and retired meteorologist friend Dick Faurot laughed when I shared that thought with him, nodding like he’d heard that before.

“I’ve found when you’re right no one remembers, but when you’re wrong no one forgets,” said the Oklahoma native, who spent a combined total of 42 years in on-air weather duties with CBS-affiliated stations between Lafayette, La. and Tulsa. We are right f-a-a-a-a-r more often than we get credit for, and I like to use the analogy that we do a much better job of forecasting the weather than economists do of forecasting the economy.

“Weather is something we can’t be completely specific about every moment of every day,” he continued.

This time I who laughed. First, because his comments left no doubt that pro weather folks get the “you missed it again” ribbing a lot. And because it just hit me that retired pro weathermen are like retired pro anglers: There is no such thing. After their careers, tournament fishermen don’t give up fishing, and retired meteorologists never stop studying the weather.

Faurot retired four years ago, but he still looks at raw meteorological data daily. No phone apps for him. He takes his fishing just as seriously.

He loves pond fishing most, but does all kinds and is proud to be a multi-species guy. Our trip on this November day was proof, as he found it easy to halt his preparation for an early-morning departure the next day for Arkansas’ famed trout water, the White River, to join me for a couple of hours of dock fishing for crappie.

Although his focus was now on his Bobby Garland crappie bait being jigged below, I had him cornered and began quizzing this expert on weather and fishing about how the two were connected, if at all. With not a single cloud in sight, our bluebird day afforded a perfect launch for this topic.

How do you feel about fishing on bluebird days?

Faurot: You know, I’ve always had the attitude that any day is a good day to go fishing.

Bluebird days are typically a really good time for people to be outdoors because weather is generally comfortable, but the wildlife just doesn’t seem to be as active. I see this time as everything just kind of going ‘ahhhhh’ in relief of things settling down again.

It’s not to say you shouldn’t go fishing on bluebird days, and that you can’t catch fish then, but in my experience, and what I’ve gleaned from others, it’s just usually slower.

My personal fishing preference is to go in advance of a storm system. Not right in front in the sense of having to dodge lightning bolts and such, but rather as the storm is moving in … the pressure is dropping, clouds are coming, wind is blowing … I want some wind.

Also, a lot of times there will be some low stratus clouds and the drizzly kind of stuff with some light showers; I’m good with fishing in the rain. From my on-the-water experiences, I’ve found all of these to be favorable factors for success.

lightning over waterlightning over water
Know Lightning’s 30-30 rule. After you see lightning, start counting to 30. If you hear thunder before you reach 30, go indoors (or seek shelter). Suspend activities for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder. Photo by Raychel Sanner on Unspla


(Faurot is a stickler for safety and stressed numerous times during our visit that he has the highest regards for safe practices in outdoor activities when weather threatens – wind, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes. That’s for good reason. He’s seen it all throughout his weather career in Louisiana and Oklahoma. He cautions: be aware and be safe!)

Are bluebird days a pressure thing?

Faurot:  Actually, it’s a function of two things. It’s surface high pressure but it’s also what’s happening with the upper-level patterns. The two are not always in sync, which is why sometimes you’ll get a high-pressure system building in and think, okay, we’re going to have clear skies but then you don’t. There are some upper-level winds that are causing some secondary issues.

We’re used to looking at what’s happening at the surface, but what really determines most of what’s going to happen with weather is what’s going on above the surface. You can get some clues about that by watching the clouds or how the weather patterns are changing.

Wind, best from the west?

He brought up the topic – wind – so I had to ask if there was indeed any science behind fishing’s famed adages, like “wind from the west, they bite the best,” and so on.

Faurot: No, not really. I think the sayings are more a function of the fact that they rhyme than a function of their having any basis on facts.

He went on to say that wildlife and anything that lives outdoors are much more sensitive to the changes in the weather than are we. He explained there are often many subtle changes during an ordinary day that we don’t pick up on that animals do, and that he doesn’t believe he could limit success, or lack of it, to any one factor because there’s usually several things taking place.

There are some general weather rules that you can apply, but will always be exceptions, he noted.

Daily variations in pressure often can be significant, depending on the time of the year and the time of day. He said that most of us think of that in terms of just the maximum and minimum temperature, but those are also related to pressure changes, which can be significant, and also winds.

Do sweat the small stuff!

Faurot: From a weather perspective, that kind of weather stability you see at particular times (we specifically discussed late summer and having a run of several days during which each was a blueprint of the others) tells me from my experience that the fish are going to fall into very distinct patterns. That’s why you need to pay attention to some of the subtle day-to-day changes, like changes in pressure from morning to afternoon. Maybe it’s some little changes in the wind, or maybe one day you’ll have more cloud cover than another. The fish have still got to eat at some point in time, so a lot of times it’ll be tied in to things that aren’t so obvious. Just because every day may seem to be the same to us doesn’t mean it is to fish. At those times, perhaps we just need to be more sensitive, more aware of little differences.

So where do we find weather’s “small stuff?”

Faurot: Go to the National Weather Service website ( and enter the locale of interest. The site is a good resource for raw weather data and for forecasts. You’ll be able to look at how the temperature and other things have changed over the course of today, or even over the last couple of days (there is a “3 Day History” link on the landing page for your local area search). That’s a way you might see the pressure has minimized and maximized at particular times of day, that might indicate a pattern for tomorrow. Those subtle things could be the differences you need to know.

Here in Oklahoma, we’re fortunate to have the Mesonet (, a network designed and implemented by scientists at the University of Oklahoma and at Oklahoma State University,  which is available to anybody to use. It’s a great source of monitoring this state’s weather subtleties. I know there are some other regional sources elsewhere comparable to our Mesonet, I’m just not familiar with them.