Few topics drive more questions at my fishing seminars – open water and hard water alike – than weather.
How does weather affect fishing? So many factors come into play, but I generally sum it up by saying that fish prefer stable weather. I find my best bites occur after three to four (or more) days of stable weather.
Now, unstable weather doesn’t strictly mean cold fronts. An abrupt heat wave, precipitation, and even days with overcast skies can alter a bite for all species. Watch weather and spend time on the water these days and you’ll see that stringing together more than a few days of stable conditions is easier said than done.
In my experience, the day and hours before a major change produce good fishing. The period right before thunderstorms can be great. Right after a thunderstorm is one of the toughest times to fish. Fish go deeper and become really reluctant to bite.
During a less-aggressive front, I’ll often have good fishing the day of the weather change. That changes dramatically the second day after a front. Fish will still bite, but that’s when we really need to downsize and slow down. We must accept that fish probably are not going to be aggressive biters.
Fish will react to most weather changes by moving deeper, or tighter to weeds or rocks. They’ll hunker down and be less active. Their feeding timeframe will decrease and – depending on the weather change – could be downright short.
With walleyes, crappies, and bluegills, it’s live bait time. Stick with smaller line, lighter weight – perhaps via smaller split shots – and maybe switch to a slip-bobber system to really force yourself to decelerate your presentation.
With fronts changing every two or three days, you’ll probably experience tough fishing. We can’t control weather, but we can know how to respond to it. Start with patience.