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How Does Weather Affect Fish?

By Samantha-Rae Tuthill, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
October 09, 2012; 3:27 PM

Good anglers know that there are many factors to consider when preparing for a fishing trip. From the type of equipment, to the type of bait, to the location, every detail needs to be catered to the type of fish being sought to increase chances for success. Another set of circumstances that fishermen and women need to take into account is how the weather is affecting fish.

Photo by Joe Christensen.

Fish, like many other animals, have very good senses about the weather. They are extremely sensitive to passing fronts and pressure changes. The weather ahead of cold fronts will lead to favorable fishing conditions due to lower pressure. However, the high pressure that follows behind cold fronts contributes to lethargic fish that won't move as far or as near the surface. Fish are less likely to come up and feed as frequently during high pressure as they will when the pressure is lower.

Because fish are so good at sensing changes in pressure, they will often increase their activity in the days before a cold front moves in, creating good conditions for catching. After the front passes through and for a few days after, conditions will remain poor.

Warm fronts also offer up ideal fishing conditions. Lower pressure and weaker winds will bring fish closer to the surface and liven them up for swimming longer distances.

Another theory about how barometric pressure affects fishing is that falling or rising pressure will have bigger impacts on fishing than a low or high pressure.

"Ahead of a cold front, as pressure is falling, air bubbles are released in the water," said AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Samuhel. "They can take small particles and organisms with them up to the surface, bringing fish up to feed on them."

Rain can also affect how well the fish will be biting. Fishing during a light rain makes casting lines more discreet. Insects are also more likely to be out flying near the surface of the water during or immediately following a light rain, which will bring fish closer to the surface and make them more susceptible to being caught. Rain can also cause more organic matter to run into bodies of water and lure fish to the surface to eat.

Another important set of factors to look into before going fishing are the local and state regulations. Always be aware of what is legally required before you set out on the water, including getting the proper licenses, and be sure to not fish for any species that are not yet in season.

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