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First of all, we will start with the question. Does weather affect fishing? The short answer? Yes. It certainly does. So much so that the weather influences almost every way in which we catch fish. I strongly believe that the weather is a topic that is often overlooked by many fishermen simply because they do not realize the drastic impact that it has on how fish bite, react and behave.
It is also arguably one of the most if not THE most important factor in fishing as a whole. Weather can have a positive or negative impact on your fishing trip. Certain weather factors cause the fish to bite more and some cause them to bite less or completely stop biting on some days.
Understanding Fish’s Metabolism
Have you ever noticed that all fishing lures catch fish? Have you noticed that there are so many designs, colors, sizes, and methods to use them all? Do you know why that is? Have you noticed a pattern within so many drastically different style of fishing lures?
To put it simply, all these lures exist for one reason and one reason only. Getting a fish to take a bite at it. Ultimately that leads to many fishing lures that are attempting to achieve the same purpose. Some lures move fast, some moves slow, some look natural, and some look artificial. Some attempt to irritate fish and some trick a fish into believing the lure is real.
Why then? What does all of this have to do with fish and their metabolism? Simply put, everything. It directly affects how to choose a lure and method of retrieve. When the metabolism of a fish is low, it means they are in survival mode.
It means that they will not expend excess energy if they don’t have to, they will not actively feed, and they will often flee if a threat presents itself. This almost always happens to be in cold water or winter conditions.
In the winter, the fish’s metabolism slows down and causes them to become lethargic and sluggish in an attempt to conserve energy. This is primarily why you do not see many anglers throwing reaction baits in the winter time.
Fish feel threatened by lures like these and this is primarily why they make such great warm water baits. Try being attacked by an intruder in addition to trying to survive the frigid cold winter by yourself. However, in the warmer months, reaction lures are effective in catching fish for the same reason entirely because of the fish’s metabolism.
In warmer water, the fish is no longer in that survival mode. Instead, their metabolism is much higher and they will turn very aggressive and territorial. Why? They have more energy, much more food, and much more control over their usage of both.
In this mode, The fish will often demonstrate characteristics similar to sharks and piranhas. When you toss the same reaction type lure to the same fish and start retrieving while the water is warm, they will often attack the threat instead of ignoring it or swimming away.
This is often involuntary and provoked because it has everything to do with the fish’s metabolism. They can attack it and they realize that they might not be getting a good meal. A reaction strike (as it is called) is simply defined as a reflex instead of an actual bite.
Most of the time, many fish will attempt to wound, steer away, or even kill and eat perceived threats just because they are irritated enough by it. Not because they are actually hungry.
Understanding Barometric Pressure
First of all, what is barometric pressure? All it tends to be is the pressure within the atmosphere of the Earth. It is also called air pressure and atmospheric pressure which can all be used interchangeably. What does this mean?
To put it simply, the atmosphere’s weight is pushing down on an area namely, the body of water where you are fishing. Believe it or not, fish are heavily affected by it. The pressure when it starts to fall usually means a storm is coming.
Clear skies are usually the result of the pressure when it starts to rise. When the air starts to rise or fall to and from Earth, it can create some of the best or worst fishing conditions. When the pressure starts to fall is often the best time to get out there and wet a line.
Fish will be actively feeding the most right before a cold front and those exact same fish will be a lot less likely to bite after the same front. Why do think this is? Fish have a lateral line that enables them to pick up vibrations and other abnormalities in the water.
That means that fish are very sensitive to even small changes in pressure. A high-pressure situation can quite literally wreck your fishing trip. The absolute best time to get fishing is during that brief period when the pressure is low.
Fish are so irritated by pressure fluctuations because the environment in which they live is very delicate and fragile. Often times, the fish are bothered because of their natural balance and way of living being upset.
Even a slight change in barometric pressure causes things within the water to sink or float, including the fish and all the other life within the water. If it happens suddenly as it does most of the time, it can cause the tiny invertebrates to die off in large numbers.
This, in turn, sparks a reaction of the Shad, Sunfish, and other bait to start feeding heavily on them. After that, the predators identify that bait is packed in larges schools so they begin to feed more so on the bait than they otherwise might have.
Barometric pressure also affects fish because it slightly hinders their ability to swim. The pressure that is being exerted onto the fish is a pretty heavy burden. They have a couple of options. First, they can either deal with it and act like it isn’t an issue, or two they can move into deeper water and get as far away from the surface as possible. This is usually what happens after a cold front as the pressure is high.
How Weather Affects the Angler
Another important question is how weather affects us as anglers. The environment can be rough on us sometimes and it is only made worse when the weather doesn’t cooperate how we would like it to. Yes, it affects our fishing and our ability to catch fish as often as we would like.
Sometimes it will start raining when you really don’t want it to. Other times, you will go out and everything will be fine. The things we need for an emergency are important. The weather can have a very positive or negative effect on the fisherman.
For example, you go out in a raincoat only to figure out that it hasn’t rained the entire fishing day like the weatherman said it would. The weather can leave us freezing, sunburned, soaked in water, or unaffected.
This is a problem because it makes it harder to narrow down on what options we have available for our lures, our clothes, and other things. Although it is not an exact Science and it never will be, there are some things you can do to help you overcome the weather if it starts howling at you.
The first one is to get a raincoat. A good raincoat. Get a good raincoat and take it with you every single trip you go to. The raining enviroments are often the best as was pointed out earlier. Having the raincoat will keep you dry and allow you to focus more on fishing instead of staying dry.
Except in the case of lightning, you should be wearing a coat fishing in the rain . Next, bring sunscreen. A whole bottle. This will prevent you from burning if the sun is drastic. Finally, wear appropriate clothing. The importance of wearing the right clothes is huge. Try to wear clothes that are well insulated. They will keep you warm in the Winter and cool in the Summer.
How Weather Affects the Water
The weather can really change the water’s environment. The colder the water, the less active the fish will be. The warmer the water, the more aggressive the fish. If snow starts to fall into the water, the body temperature of the fish goes down and they start to resort to surviving and for good reason.
They are cold-blooded animals. This means that their body temperature changes with the water. During seasons like winter and fall, fishing can still be successful but you have to work your baits very slow because they don’t often attack or chase anything.
During Spring and Summer however, the fish are more aggressive and you can afford to speed things up dramatically. When the hot weather starts to warm up the water, the fish will start to feed more actively and attack things more. Think of it like their blood is boiling. They become vicious and it is much easier to catch fish quickly.
Why Fish Don’t Actively Bite In Certain Kinds of Weather
Now that we understand how the weather affects the fish’s metabolism and how barometric pressure works, we can carry that over and use it to explain why we are not getting bites on our lures. In the cold water survival mode, you may not be getting bit because it is too fast of a lure.
Slow it down! STOP RETRIEVING and start gently working it back for the love of lures. Sometimes, the way you retrieve your lure is all it takes to entice bites from fish. In cold water, you want a very natural and slow presentation on your baits so the fish don’t feel threatened.
You want fluorocarbon if you can get it. If it a cloudy day with barely any sunshine, more fish are more likely to hit topwater lures because the sun isn’t bothering them when they head to the surface. They will often be looking for food in these conditions anyways therefore, topwater is a great choice.
On windy days, lures like crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and other reaction lures that makes noise and produce of ton of water displacement work well because the fish can often locate them better than your more natural lures through the wind.
On a hot Summer day in the morning, the lure you may have tied on just might not temp the fish enough to go after it. Remember, fish blood boils in hot weather. Give them a faster presentation and don’t give them worms for breakfast.
You may also not be getting bites because the pressure is too high. Again, you want to check that. They will always feed the best when the barometric pressure is very low and almost none when it is higher. In the conditions where it is low, they will hit pretty much anything.
In the colder conditions, you may be working your lure to fast, it may be the wrong pattern or color, or you may need to upgrade your line to fluorocarbon. Fishing is usually a guessing game albeit a very fun guessing game. Rarely, you could be doing absolutely everything correctly and the fish just are not interested in you or what you have to offer.
It is a rare occurence but not impossible. This is why it is very important to practice learning about the weather and you you can read it to determine your best chance of catching fish. Having this available knowledge on hand is only a starting point. to fully get a good grasp of how things work, you have to experience it for yourself. You have to go out, fish, and keep score.
How Weather Affects Fish Locations
If it is very sunny outside, it will be extremely difficult for the fish to be near the top of the water because it is uncomfortable for them. When the sun is out, the fish will swim down into deeper water on purpose.
On a cloudy overcast day, the fish will inhabit more shallow water and sometimes they will go right up to the surface. This makes topwater bites all the better. This is because it isn’t hot outside and they are not concerned about getting to warm.
Pretty much all fish love to exist in a state where they are not hot or cold. Usually, the shaded areas are the best territories for warmer times of the year while you likely want to use a subsurface offering in the winter if you can.
What little warmth the fish do get in the winter is just enough to keep them alive. They often enjoy the little amounts of heat that the sun generates during this time and this often results in them being higher in the water column. Just to get a bit of relief from swimming in an ice bath. During the winter and fall, fish like to pick a spot and stay there. In the Sunner, they will move down deeper.
To answer the question at hand, does weather affect fishing? Yes. Yes, it does. It matters. When factoring the weather in with your fishing trip, you can catch more fish by knowing how it works and why.
Fish are affected by it and you should be too. If you can successfully read into the local forecast, your chances of catching fish goes way up. Knowing how the fish will behave in any given situation will ultimately help you choose lures and techniques to aid you on your trip.
How does weather affect your fishing success? Leave a comment below!
David loves to catch fish. He also enjoys boating and making fishing tackle. He has caught every major game fish in North America and he hopes to share his knowledge with the rest of the world so they can catch fish too.