The recent onslaught of Arctic air that has sent the temperature plummeting has made ice fishing tough for many. If it doesn1t make the fishing slow, it certainly makes the fishing more difficult.
The trouble with blaming poor fishing on weather, however, is that no one knows just how weather affects a fish1s decision to eat or not. What we do know is that sub-zero temperatures causes mechanical breakdowns, augers to act up, exposed body parts to freeze at any moment, and everyone to be more miserable. Our ability and desire to fish diminish and we don1t do as well.
Most active ice anglers believe high pressure Arctic air masses slowfishing down. But sometimes there are pretty nice fish caught on days when the temperature is well below zero. So as with all things dealing with nature, we have to rely on generalities. And in most cases, some kinds of winter weather can make fishing good or bad.
A typical example already happened this winter. A prevailing high pressure system had settled in. We were on a good spot where many walleyes have been pulled through the holes, but only a walleye or two were caught the first few outings. The only thing that bit with any regularity was an occasional small northern, the kind that seem to eat no matter what the weather is like.
Then the weather changed for a day. The temperature rose to about 20 degrees and snow started to fall. Suddenly bobbers that were previously motionless started to sink. Holes that had yet to give up a fish were now producing walleyes. Fishing was good during the morning.
Unfortunately the weatherman said it wouldn1t last, and by that afternoon the temperature started to fall and the walleye action dropped with it. This scenario will be familiar to everyone who fishes much. Fishing is typically lousy during onslaughts of cold temperatures associated with arctic high pressure systems. Then fishing will take an upswing when southerly winds pull warmer temps and precipitation up from the south.
Again, these are generalities that will not always hold up, but are about the most consistent patterns you1ll find. How do these weather conditions affect fish? No one knows, but we assume air pressure is the most likely factor. The bitterly cold weather we1ve been having has been largely associated with high pressure systems.
We know that fish are sensitive to changes in the pressure of the water around them, so perhaps an increase in pressure makes fish stop eating.
Whenever I have to limit my ice fishing to a few days, I will usually
watch weather forecasts to predict incoming warm fronts. Not always, but many times just as the weather is warming the fishing takes an abrupt upswing. At least the fishing is easier. However, most of us don1t have the option of picking and choosing the days we fish. By all means fish whenever you can, regardless of weather.
But for comfort1s sake, the warmer the better.
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