Even though spring is here, fishing in cold Ohio weather is still a possibility.
An Ohio cold front can be a real downer for anyone, but for a die-hard angler who had a big fishing trip planned, it can be an absolute heartbreaker.
Not only do cold weather conditions make being out on the boat a none-too-pleasant experience, but they also make it considerably more difficult to catch fish. It’s enough to make you want to ditch your plans and stay inside for the day.
RELATED: 5 Species to Fish in Ohio
But if you are willing to brave the conditions, there are ways to enjoy the experience and bring home a few fish in the process. Here are six tips to help you on your way.
View the slideshow to see the suggestions for fishing in cold Ohio weather.
1. Dress correctly
The easiest way to turn a cold fishing day in Ohio into an absolutely miserable experience is to wear the wrong clothes. Double down on layers and waterproof clothes: you don’t quite know how it’s going to feel out on the boat, so be prepared for the coldest, wettest weather and adjust accordingly.
Build your fishing wardrobe out of fabrics that will help to wick moisture away from your skin and keep you warm and dry in a way cotton clothing can’t. Finally, don’t forget warm socks, gloves, and a hat: even if it’s late spring, an Ohio cold front can still result in numbing winds when you’re out on the water.
Try the Patagonia SST Fishing Jacket for the ultimate cold weather gear when hitting the water during cold Ohio days.
2. Know where to look
Half the battle in catching fish when it’s cold out is knowing where to look.
For instance, bass aren’t going to be hanging around the shallows like they normally would, but they might not head all the way to the depths either. Areas of cover or protection, from long grasses and weeds to spots with a lot of timber or big rocks, are hotspots for bass and other types of fish during cold weather.
They also might be hanging around at deep water drop-offs or ledges, so know where the depths shift and target those spots. Depth detectors and fish locator GPS devices can be especially helpful when it comes to tracking down fish in the cold.
3. Head to the depths
Even if bass don’t head instantly for deep water when it gets cold, that doesn’t mean that the same can be said for other species. If you can’t find fish in the timber or around other areas of cover, then they’ve probably retreated to the depths for some warmer water relief.
RELATED: 5 Ways to Prepare for Spring Fishing
4. Slow and easy wins the race
Many anglers talk about fish going on a “hunger strike” when a cold front rolls through. That’s not necessarily accurate: fish aren’t refusing to eat in protest of the weather or anything silly like that, but their metabolisms have simply slowed thanks to the colder water.
That fact results in two things: first, fish aren’t as hungry anyway because they aren’t moving around as much and burning through food as quickly; second, fish aren’t as active, so they aren’t willing to do much to investigate and chase down your baits.
In essence, these are the same issues Ohio anglers are facing right now as the waters warm and spring fishing gets underway. That means fishing your baits slowly and keeping everything as still as possible when nearing a target. A fish will only take the bait if he thinks he can’t lose, so convince him of such.
5. Don’t go it alone
Fishing alone is never the best idea, especially if you’re taking a boat out, but during the summer, it can be a nice, low-risk escape. Not so in cold, windy, or otherwise dangerous conditions.
If you are going to take the risk of fishing in less-than-desirable conditions, at least make sure you have a partner who can get you to safety if something goes wrong. The water is colder than you think during a cold front – especially if you’re heading out on the waters of a big lake, where the water can be frigid even in the middle of the hottest summer seasons.
Adhering to the buddy system for managing a boat and making the right decisions can mean the difference between life and death during a cold Ohio fishing outing.
6. Know when to quit
If your hands are numb and you can’t even cast your line anymore, it’s time to call it quits.
There are cold front fishing days where you’ll layer up and head out on the water expecting the worst weather you’ve ever fished, only to find that the sun peeks through the clouds and the fish start biting an hour into the trip. However, there are also Ohio days where you will be besieged by bitter cold temperatures, merciless winds, and have real trouble staying warm.
In short, don’t hold out for a shift in the weather. As long as you make smart decisions, there will always be another day of fishing to make up for the lost opportunities of today.