It is common fishing knowledge that bass and crappie, along with many other types of fish, will bit hard and heavy before a storm. The explanation my grandfather always gave me was that there will not be insects on the surface of the water for bait fish to eat, thus less baitfish for the bass to eat when it stormed, so they knew they had get their meals in quickly. While I’m sure this does play a part; the reasoning my grandma would mutter as she would roll her eyes at my grandfather was more accurate, barometric pressure.
Put simple, barometric pressure is the amount of weight the atmosphere is exerting down on the surface of earth. We have all sorts of fancy tool to help up determine what is going on with barometric pressure and weathermen to give us up-to-date diagrams of what is going on in our skies; however, the fish can tell these changes, too. It is unclear how fish can detect the changes in barometric pressure, but it has been confirmed by marine biologist that they do not use a mercury barometer.
Fishing in Steady Low and High Barometric Pressure
Nevertheless, lake fish have their preferences as far as feeding is concerned. Long periods of both high and low pressure negatively affect fishing; both tend to make fish sluggish. The fish will commonly move to deeper water or seek cover in thick weeds, lily pads and dense brush. They are much less aggressive feeders during this time, which makes fishing slow going. This make fishing frustrating when you have what feels like an ideal day with clear skies and low wind, but no bites. There is a good chance that the culprit is steady high barometric pressure.
When the barometric pressure is changing lake fishing is at its best. If you notice the pressure is changing from low to high, fish will become slightly more active and will at least be interested in feeding. You will want to fish the weed beds or their outskirts with slower moving baits. I find that this is a good time to work a rubber worm on a Texas Rig of you are bass fishing or a bee moth on a bobber and hook rig when fishing for crappie or bluegill.
The ideal time for lake fishing is when barometric pressure moves from high to low. This is usually when you go from clear skies and sunny days to dark and down pouring. The time before a storm is when fish will bite hard, heavy and usually indiscriminately. Take advantage of this time and pack some rain gear! The fish don’t stop their feeding frenzy just because it has started to rain. Bass are willing to go after fast moving lures like buzz baits and spinners during this time.
Fishing in Normal Barometric Pressure
What about when barometric pressure is normal? You are going to use this time as your baseline. This is when fish will bite at a level that is standard for them, which means your tried and true lures should be the most effective. If you have a few new lures you think will do the trick, this is the time to test them out. You will be able to tell if these lures deserve to be permanent additions into your tackle box.
While fish can naturally sense barometric pressure, most of us do not have that ability. Luckily, technology can help us out in this department. There are literally thousands of different devices used to measure barometric pressure on the market, but there is no need to spend a fortune. I rely on a combination thermometer/barometer on the wall. If I am feeling especially curious while I am on the lake, I have an app on my cell phone that I downloaded for free.
So in short:
Steady High or Steady Low= Slow fishing
Good luck on your next lake fishing adventure and check the barometric trends before you go! If you found this article helpful, share it with a buddy and comment below. Please visit Lake Fishing Techniques to see what else sparks your interest!
Author: Brian Ward
Mar 11, 2013