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When the Temps Drop, the Fishing Can Pick Up if You Take These Tips to Heart

Sara Dodd (Photo by Author)

Fishing during the winter months can be a challenge, but if the fish can adapt to weather transitions, so can you.

When the temperatures drop, fish behavior changes drastically beneath the water’s surface. Above the water’s surface, you’ll need to make a few adjustments to improve your chances and simply improve your quality of life.

1. Dress to be prepared for the conditions you’re up against.

Angler Sara Dodd is prepared and comfortable with multiple layers beneath her Simms Gear

Wearing the proper rain gear for your day on the water is crucial. It’s equally important to wear the right base layers. Avoid cotton, choose synthetic materials like fleece. You want something that will wick moisture rather than absorb it. Layer your clothing so you can make adjustments to the temps and conditions on the fly. The more comfortable and confident you are on the water, the more you’ll be able to focus on the task of catching fish.

2. Adapt your fishing tactics to the water conditions you’re up against.

Bait Wrapped Plugs Photo by Chris Vertopoulos
Bait Wrapped Plugs Photo by Chris Vertopoulos

If it’s been raining a lot and the water is rising, it’s probably also losing some clarity. Address the water clarity with contrasting colors. You can also help fish locate your presentation with sound and scent. Don’t be subtle, adjust your presentations to cover a wider range of movement.

3. Adjust your depths to the metabolism of the fish.

This one bit on a shallow flat on sunny January afternoon
This one bit on a shallow flat on sunny January afternoon

I know it’s tough to get out of bed when the days are longer, but there truly is something to that first light bite. The slightest change in temperature can turn on the bite, so ideally you want to be on the water before the sun is. Even just a pocket of sunshine on a particular patch of water will draw fish from the depths looking to warm their bones in shallower water.

4. Slow your presentations down to draw bites from sluggish fish.

Cary McLaren caught this December bass using a little molasses paced finesse
Cary McLaren caught this December bass using a little molasses paced finesse

Fish slow down in colder water and so should you. Fish may be more hesitant to leave their resting area to venture out after food, so you want to keep your presentation in the strike zone as long as possible. If your presentation imitates a baitfish, you want it to accurately represent the behavior of a sluggish baitfish in colder water. Use heavier weights to keep other lures in place long enough for fish to react to them.

NEXT: FISHING ISN’T EASY! IT’S NOT LIKE A MONKEY COULD… OH… NEVERMIND

When the Temps Drop, the Fishing Can Pick Up if You Take These Tips to Heart