Understanding Barometric Pressure and Fishing

barometric pressure fishing

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Have you ever noticed how fish are actively biting one moment and completely disinterested the next? The answer to this enigma is not in the stars but rather in the barometric pressure. Over the past 15 years of fishing, I’ve learned how this invisible force influences fish behavior. Here’s a rundown of my findings.

What is Barometric Pressure?

Barometric pressure is the weight of the atmosphere surrounding us. It fluctuates with weather changes and can have profound effects on fish behavior. While I primarily engage in saltwater fly fishing, the same principles apply to nymph fly fishing as well.

My Experiences With Fishing and Barometric Pressure

The journey to understand the influence of barometric pressure on fishing began with a curious observation. One day, I noticed a school of fish refusing to bite, then suddenly, they began feeding on everything in sight. This drastic change sparked a quest to understand the invisible factors influencing fish behavior.

To demystify this phenomenon, I began maintaining logs of all possible variables: Moon phase, wind speed and direction, water temperature, salinity, time of day, cloud cover, and so on. Over time, I’ve noticed some patterns, but remember, it’s nature we’re dealing with, so it doesn’t always follow a rigid rulebook.

The Impact of Barometric Pressure on Different Fish Species

Fish, like humans, react differently to changes in barometric pressure. My logs primarily focus on redfish, but I’ve also observed sea trout, snook, and tarpon. Each species has its unique reaction to changes in weather conditions.

Generally, fish tend to feed on the surface when the pressure is falling and at the bottom when it’s rising. For example, I’ve seen redfish actively feeding on the surface in the morning when the pressure drops. However, as the sun rises and the pressure climbs, they swim closer to the bottom, feeding more on subsurface baits. On days when pressure remains low or falling, topwater feeding remains active throughout the day, debunking the myth that topwater fishing is only effective in the early morning.

How barometric pressure influences fish behavior

Understanding Barometric Pressure and Fish Behavior

High pressure (above 30.20) often causes bait to stop coming to the surface, with mullet ceasing to jump and birds resting on the water. The fish lie at the bottom, showing little interest in feeding.

Low pressure (below 29.80), on the other hand, keeps mullet somewhat active and birds in flight. Fish move around more but appear nervous and spook easily.

Moving pressure is where the magic happens. Fish behave differently depending on whether the pressure is rising or falling, but the constant is that they’re feeding. When the pressure rises, fish become wary but are generally hungry. As the pressure climbs above 30.10, I switch to using suspending lures that can be worked slowly in shallow water. Above 30.20, I switch to soft plastics and jerk warms.

A falling pressure, my personal favorite, makes fish more tolerant of topwater plugs. They’re less easily spooked and are constantly on the move. On such days, you’ll see schools of fish actively feeding along the shoreline.

However, a stable pressure often spells doom for fishing activity. Fish become almost lethargic, refusing to eat.

fishing barometer

What Is The Best Barometric Pressure For Fishing?

For me, the sweet spot lies between 29.95 and 30.05, provided the pressure is moving. Remember, these are just my observations, and different species may react differently. Pay attention to the local wildlife; if you don’t see signs of life, it might be time to call it a day.

But don’t let these observations take the fun out of fishing. On days when the conditions are less than perfect, you may still land the big one. After all, you’re always just one cast away from the catch of a lifetime.

So, should you take my word as gospel truth? Absolutely not! These are simply personal observations from my years of fishing. Different species, different locations, and even different times of the year can all lead to variations in these patterns. The key is to observe, learn, and adapt.

Now, I’d love to hear your experiences. Have you noticed any patterns or correlations between fishing conditions and barometric pressure? Share your stories in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out our series of fly fishing books for more insights and advice.

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