Under Pressure: Why Weather Affects Fish Behavior
Weather Affects Fish
Perhaps you can remember a time when fish stopped biting because of a drastic change in temperature, but trying to understand why is another story. Once you have a better understanding of how weather affects fish behavior, you’ll be able to work around them and become a better angler. Here we will dive into a few weather variables such as high pressure, low pressure, wind, and temperature, to find out how they can influence fish behavior.
Let’s start with a little lesson in meteorology.
Understanding Why Weather Affects Fish Behavior
Barometric pressure doesn’t necessarily affect how the fish will bite, so much as how it indicates the conditions that affect how they will bite. Most fishermen or women, know that falling pressure typically coincides with more favorable conditions and when the barometer rises, the fish stop biting.
Why? Let’s find out.
Areas of high and low pressure determine our weather; generally moving from west to east. As the high pressure moves in, winds tend to blow clockwise and way from the center. If you’re in the center of this high-pressure area, you’ll experience clear skies, dry air, little (or no) wind, and cooler temperatures. Unfortunately, these sunny skies, which typically occur during the fall and winter, also bring about poor fishing conditions.
One school of thought why this happens is that while anglers can feel the temperatures change, the fish can feel a pressure change. To take the pressure off, they may hide behind structures to feed and rest.
When low-pressure areas approach, winds blow counter-clockwise and toward the center. If you’re in the center of a low-pressure area, you’ll experience cloudy skies, high humidity levels, light winds, steady temps and possible precipitation. These conditions almost always bring about good fishing conditions.
One reason for the favorable conditions could be that falling pressure allows plankton to float upward which makes them easier prey, in turn, triggering gamefish to feed.
Since water is slower to heat and cool than air, a brief warm or cold spell isn’t as concerning as following long-term weather trends. For example, in the springtime, slowly warming temperatures prompt fish to move to shallow waters for feeding and reproduction. And, in the fall, cooling waters triggers fish to follow bait, fatten up and move deep for winter.
Of course, timing can vary depending on the severity of a season’s weather patterns and remember, every rule has an exception based on where you’re fishing.
Many believe that fishing conditions are best with a west wind and worst with an east wind. Why? Wind patterns are often tied to barometer pressure. Winds from the west (or southwest) often indicate that a low-pressure front is on the way, which we learned is tied to favorable fishing conditions.
Besides barometric pressure, wind can also affect currents, waves and light which can all affect conditions.
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Whether you’re fishing on a sunny day in the deep sides of grass beds or at dawn on a cloudy day in shallow waters, remember that you will feel a weather front before the fish do. Don’t be fooled in thinking that they’re going to instantly stop biting when the wind shifts.
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