How Does Weather Affect Lake Fishing?

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bad weather fishing

If you spend a lot of your free time out fishing on your favorite lakes, you may have noticed that depending on the weather you can have a wildly different experience.

It may seem like different weather can make your time fishing inconsistent and can make it confusing to know how to get the optimal catch.

However, if you know how the weather might affect the fish with the lake, you can take steps to make sure that you are always putting your best foot forward when it comes to fishing.

Within this article, we will let you know how the weather can affect your time lake fishing and what you can do to get the most out of your time out on the lakes that you enjoy.

What aspects of the weather affect Lake Fishing?

When it comes to Lake Fishing, there are a few specific aspects that have a really prominent effect on the outcome of your fishing experience.

By changing the ways that the fish within the waters behave, these aspects can cause some difficulty for you if you don’t know how to combat them whilst fishing.

We will now go through these specific aspects so that you can be better informed and know what you need to change up and what to look out for so that you can maintain a steady stream of bites when out on the lake.

Water Temperature

Due to the fact that the majority of fish species are actually cold-blooded, they cannot regulate their own body temperature.

Therefore, the temperature of the water surrounding them can have a profound effect on how they behave – as they have to alter their metabolism to keep in check with the temperature of the water.

As the water gets colder, fish will begin to move slower and mostly need a lower amount of food in order to sustain themselves. For warmer waters, they become a lot more energetic and so it follows that this will make them need more food to keep going.

Along with this, the temperature of the water also affects the ease with which fish can breathe.

The temperature of the water directly correlates to the amount of dissolved oxygen present within it. Fish use their gills to extract the dissolved oxygen from the water in order to breathe.

Generally, you will find more dissolved oxygen in colder water and less dissolved oxygen in warmer water.

fish gasping for water

This is important to keep in mind because each individual species of fish has its own specific thresholds for the minimum water temperature that if it goes under it will no longer feed, and maximum water temperature that if it goes over it will no longer be able to breathe.

Knowing the specific details down to the precise measurements isn’t something you will need to concern yourself with, but knowing what the change in water temperature can bring on in fish generally is helpful to have.

Can the weather change the water temperature?

The weather can most definitely have an effect on the water temperature and can do so in few different ways.

Of course, there are the more slow-acting and incremental changes that can occur over the course of the year as the seasons change.

Mostly this change comes about due to the increased amount of time that sunlight can shine upon the body of water during summer and lessen over the winter.

As this is a more gradual change, it isn’t something that is going to surprise you and is easy to account for.

What can really make a difference to the water temperature in the short term, however, is rainfall and it can make quite a sudden change too.

As rain falls, fresher water is introduced into the lake and starts to change the overall temperature. The smaller the body of water, the quicker the effects of this change will start to take place.

The rain can also cause a change in the turbidity of the water, namely that it will usually increase it, as well as introducing more nutrients to the water – which can alter the way in which fish act.


In the case of North America, the typical direction of the wind will tend to be in a Northeasterly direction. The reason for this is due both to the rotation of the Earth and also because of the jet stream.

In the summertime, the jet stream will begin to become more northerly, which in turn will bring in warm low-pressure air from the Southwest and is the reason for summer winds.

As it turns to later in the year, with Fall and Winter, the jet stream will become more Southerly and start to pull in colder high-pressure air from the North. When both cold and warm air becomes intertwined is when we see storms start to form.

The way in which wind can affect a Lake is to cause waves to start to form on the Lake. Some of the larger lakes can have some waves, to begin with, but heavy winds can cause them to appear on most lakes through friction on the surface of the water; the stronger the wind, the bigger the waves.

These waves can cause the overall turbidity of the water to increase and cause nutrients within the water to be redistributed – in turn altering fish behavior.

Barometric Pressure

Finally, one of the aspects of the weather that can have a profound effect on the way that fish will behave is Barometric Pressure.

When the weather makes a sudden change, it causes the barometric pressure to shift drastically and can induce somewhat of a feeding frenzy in fish.

Barometric Pressure

Also known as atmospheric pressure, barometric pressure is a way of describing the amount of force that is being applied to a specific area by the atmosphere of the Earth.

You could almost imagine it as being how heavy the air is.

In the US, barometric pressure is measure in inches of mercury or inHg, and at sea level, you would expect the reading to be 29.92 inHg.

Anything above that number would be a high reading and anything below that number would be a low reading.

As the numbers get higher, the more pressure applied to the Earth’s surface, the bodies of water upon it, and in turn the fish within.

How will Barometric Pressure alter fish behavior?

For their lives underwater, fish have evolved some specific adaptions in their physical structures to allow them to have expanded sense and functions.

In particular, these are organs known as the swim bladder and the lateral line.

In fish, the swim bladder is an order that is not dissimilar to a stomach, that allows the fish to gain buoyancy by inflating with air.

It almost functions like a natural barometer in fish as it will feel the pressures of the atmosphere as it changes.

Some fish species will have larger swim bladders and therefore be more sensitive to the changes in barometric pressure – fish such as the Snapper and the Grouper.

Whereas, fish with smaller swim bladders are usually affected to a lesser degree – fish such as the Barracuda and the Kingfish.

The lateral line is another organ that fish have evolved that is a way for them to sense predators and to navigate their surroundings effectively.

It is a highly tuned organ that can pick up even the smallest vibrations in the water, and as such is greatly sensitive to the pressure changes of the environment.

How does Barometric Pressure affect fishing?

Drops and rises in barometric pressure are most noticeable during and after a storm. As pressure rises, this usually means that the weather is improving and a storm has passed, whereas a drop in pressure could mean that a storm is about to start.

During a storm, that is formed by warm, low-pressure air and cold, high-pressure air meeting and forming storm clouds. Pressure will start to drop at a steady rate and will continue until the storm has passed.

This can either happen extremely quickly or will happen over a longer duration of time. In terms of fishing, it would be preferable to have the latter happen because it will give you a greater amount of time to fish as the pressure drops.

bad weather fishing

When a storm is over, a cold front will typically appear and this will bring in high-pressure air that will make fish retreat and give you a bad time if you were to go fishing as you would get little to no bites.

Eventually, this pressure will stabilize and this will take a different amount of time for every storm. Until the atmospheric pressure is steady for around 72 fish are mostly inactive and hard to catch, but after this point, they will begin to return to their normal behavior.

Fish can even seem to be more incentivized to bite than they perhaps were before the storm. There is some dispute as to what exactly causes this, but it is most likely that the fish simply haven’t eaten in a little bit.

How to make the most of the weather?

All of this information is good to know, but what you’ll be more interested in knowing is how you can apply these things to your fishing to make the most out of the weather.


For rapid drops in pressure, around 0.18inHg over a duration of three hours, you will find that your bite is excellent. As pressure rises rapidly, the fish will begin to hide away and you won’t be getting much in the way of bites.

After around 3 days of stable pressure, a change of no more than 0.3inHg, then the bite will be great once again.

You can find plenty of apps, and traditional barometers that can be useful in making sure you know when the best time is to fish.

Water Temperature and Turbidity

In weather that is on the colder side, fish will tend to be slower and so it would be beneficial to match them with a lure that is presenting as slow-moving also. The inverse is also advisable for warmer weather.

As rainfall and waves caused by wind can cause the water to become more turbid than it might usually be, visibility under the water of the lake can become limited and alter the way fish are behaving.

As fish are mostly sight hunters, a change in visibility can have them rely more on their lateral line for finding prey and avoiding predators.

A fast-action lure will do wonders here and the vibrations these lines can make can be great for directing the attention of the fish toward your line.

Brightly colored lures are another excellent way for you to get a fish’s attention. Using lures with bright reds, yellows, greens will help to keep your fish biting in colder waters where they might not be as motivated to move.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, the weather can have a great and profound effect on Lake Fishing, but this is an effect that you can use to take advantage of and push your fishing to the next level.

Rainfall, wind, and barometric pressure are things that can all have effects on Lake Fishing and the behavior of the fish, which makes storms a great time to fish.

Obviously, this should be done safely and if a storm seems like too much then it won’t hurt to pack up and come back another day when the conditions are better.

Hopefully, this article has been useful in letting you know how weather can affect Lake Fishing and we hope that you can take this knowledge and get your best catch yet!