Barometric Pressure is one of the most talked about but least understood factors that affect the way fish act. Over the past 15 years or so in my quest to find why fish eat one day and don't the next I have found a few "guidelines" that work for me.
My quest was set in motion one day when I saw fish everywhere and none of them would eat anything I tossed at them. Then out of nowhere they started feeding on everything they came across. I just had to know why. What happened at that point in time to cause them to just turn on. Was the answer in the stars or was it something much simpler? I made logs of everything. Moon phase, wind speed and direction, water temperature, salinity, time of day, cloud cover, what I had for lunch the day before. Well maybe not the lunch but everything I thought could influence the fish. Here are a few of the things I found.
Before I go any further let me say that as much as I would like to say I have this down to a science, I haven't reached that point yet. Remember this is nature I am trying to predict. Although the trends I have found work most of the time in this area nature has proven me wrong time and time again.
Different spices of fish seem to tolerate and adapt to barometric pressure changes in as many ways as there are different fish. Most of the logs that I have kept have been about the factors that affect redfish. I have some information about sea trout, snook and tarpon but especially snook and tarpon seem to have their own rules when it comes to their feeding habits.
For the most part it as been my experience that the main affect pressure changes have on fish is where they will feed. There are a few exceptions but for the most part I have found the fish appear to feed better on the surface on a falling pressure and on the bottom on a rising.
Here is an example:
Over the past few years I have watched schools of redfish bust anything that moved on the surface in the morning. As the sun rose an the pressure climbed the same fish began to swim closer to the bottom. The fish were still as active as in the morning but were feeding more on subsurface baits. By midday the pressure started to fall and once again the reds started feeding on the surface. I know a lot of people would say that the top water feed is only good in the early morning and it was the all due the the suns position. In some cases I would agree, however, I have also had countless days where I have had the pressure remain low or falling all day, on cloudless days, and the top water feed stay on all day.
Some people like a high pressure while others prefer a low. It has been my experience that both can be good. As with all things there can be too much of a good thing ether way. With that in mind I will try to define what I call each and trends I have noticed.
Pressure over 30.20
When the pressure is high bait stops coming to the surface. Mullet stop jumping. Birds sit on the surface if you see them at all.
The fish seem to be laying on the bottom and in many cases not willing to eat anything except dead or cut bait if anything.
Pressure below 29.80
There are many similarities between high and low pressure but with a few minor exceptions. Mullet will remain somewhat active. The birds will continue fly around but they don't seem to feed much.
The fish are moving around. They appear nervous and spooky. They will feed but most have to be caught from a distance.
The key to most good days is a moving pressure. The fish do act different on a rising and falling but the good news is they are feeding. The worst thing that can happen on most of these days is the pressure gets too high or low.
When the pressure is rising most of the fish I have watched become a little spooky. They are almost always hungry but leery of top water plugs. Most of the time they can be found feeding in one area all day. I have had days like this I have only had to pole a few hundred yards. Most of the time if they do spook off they will come back within a few minutes.
Once the pressure gets above 30.10 most days I will use suspending lures that can be worked slowly in shallow water. Once the pressure gets above 30.20 I change out to soft plastics and jerk warms.
A falling pressure is by far my favorite for a few reasons. The fish become very tolerate of top water plugs. They will take just about anything you throw at them. They don't spook off as easy, and are on the move. It is on these days you can watch schools of fish work a shoreline busting everything in site. On days Like this they will work an area sometime a few miles long. The good news is most of the time it is just up and down one flat.
This is the killer. I have had so many days when the pressure just sits there and so do the fish. I have poled over them and them not spook. I have had them sit in the shadow of my boat. I have almost stepped on them. The worst thing is they just don't want to eat. You may get one every now and again but most of the time nothing.
My favorite window is between 29.95 and 30.05. The most important thing is that the pressure is moving. Now this is not to say that the fishing isn't good at other times. This is just my personal favorite.
As with everything, there are always exceptions to the rules. I have had days when the pressure was 30.40 and the reds were eating everything. This was in the middle of the winter and the water was 36º. I have also had days when the pressure was 29.58 and fish were just about jumping in the boat.
I think the thing you have to do to determine what the days has in store is to watch the bait and birds. If the pressure is high or low and you don't see a sigh of life. You may need to call the day short.
There is almost always something going on. The only difference is whether or not it's a banner day. If you become too obsessed with the factors you are going to take all the things that make fishing fun. Remember, you are always just one cast away from that big one.
Absolutely Not!!!! These are just a few of the observations I have made in this area. I have talked with people from all over the world about this and just as I would expect, many of the fish in their area follow different rules.
Like I was saying earlier, These rules don't seem to have as much impact on tarpon and snook. They seem to be more influenced by moon phase than anything.
If I have made you think about a few things or have helped out a little with the things I have found then my object was accomplished.
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