It is wintertime and the lake is finally frozen enough for ice fishing. You have all your gear and are ready to go. Just before you leave, you look out the window and see a storm approaching.
Now, you may be wondering if the impending weather system can affect your success out on the ice.
The short answer is yes; just as with regular fishing, weather conditions can cause fish to behave differently which may result in you having to alter your strategy to have a successful ice fishing expedition.
If you would like to know more about how the weather can affect your ice fishing goals, continue reading for information that may increase your chances of success.
How Weather Affects Ice Fishing
Many people think that the fish will not be affected by the weather beneath a layer of ice; however, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In reality, the weather plays a great part in how deep the fish are swimming and when they are biting. Barometric pressure has a great effect on the fish, especially when the lake is frozen.
When the barometric pressure is higher, it pushes on the ice and affects the conditions of the water.
Clear Skies are Not Always a Blessing
You woke up to a beautiful, crisp, sunny morning and probably thought it was a great day to go ice fishing. You might want to adjust your expectations. Sunshine and clear skies are a sign of high pressure in the air.
Fish have an organ called a bladder that helps them with breathing and balance while they are swimming and floating around. Higher pressure can be very uncomfortable for some fish and may drive them to the deeper parts of the water where there is a more plentiful supply of oxygen.
That is not to say that you cannot be successful and enjoy yourself on a sunny day, but as mentioned above, you may need to adjust your strategy for catching your supper.
Gloomy Looking Days are Best
You may wake up and look out the window to see a gloomy grey day facing you. Who wants to go outside when it’s like that? You do! If you want to catch the most fish. Despite what you may think, fish are closer to the surface and more active when it is gloomy.
Gloomy skies equal low pressure, which draws the fish closer to the surface and most times will cause them to be more aggressive and bite at anything.
So if you want bragging rights on who caught the most fish, you had better bundle up, grab your gear and get to fishing!
Pro Tip: The best time to fish is right before the storm. It is all about timing. If you pay close attention to weather patterns and study the behavior of the fish you desire you will be more successful on your ice fishing expeditions.
More on Barometric Pressure
Since barometric pressure can have such a large effect on when the fish are biting, this chart may help you to know when to hit the ice or when to stay home and curl up near a cozy fire.
Typical Fish Activity
High = Over 30.50 (stable conditions)
Medium = 29.70 – 30.50 (stable conditions)
Medium – fair activity
Low = 29.00 – 29.70 (stable conditions)
Very Low = Under 29.00 (stable conditions)
Very low activity
Pressure decreasing rapidly (incoming low-pressure front)
Best time to fish. Typically most active during this time.
Pressure increasing rapidly (incoming high-pressure front)
The worst time to fish. Most fish will go deeper and become less active.
When the air pressure is stable (meaning it’s not changing rapidly), other elements can play a part in how active the fish will be.
These other elements include, but are not limited to:
- Amount of light
- The activity of the prey
- Time of day, etc.
When the air pressure is ‘stable’, you need to focus more on the other elements of success.
The most important time to pay attention to the barometric pressure is when it is increasing or decreasing rapidly.
If you are new to the great sport of ice fishing, then knowing this information will help you to get in tune with the fish in your area.
Study the weather and its effect on when the fish are most active to give yourself a better chance of success on your ice fishing trips.
Barometric Pressure and Fishing
Determining the Barometric Pressure
You may be wondering how helpful the chart above will be if you don’t know what the current barometric pressure is outside. The solution to that problem is simple. The following item is an example of a barometer that is designed with the avid fisherman or woman in mind.
This handy little item will take the guessing out of when the fish should be most active. It will give you an accurate barometric pressure reading every time. This particular barometer costs around $21.00. However, they come in many different sizes and price ranges.
- Adjustable pressure change indicator
- Color-coded dial to show you when the conditions are the best
- Easy to set to your local area
- Made with high-quality materials
- No-slip grip with a braided lanyard to keep it close at all times
Knowledge Equals Success
Having the right information often means the difference between a successful ice fishing trip and going home hungry. Now that you know more about how barometric pressure can affect your level of success, you can make educated decisions and have an even more enjoyable time on the ice.