How Weather Affects the Behavior of Fish

How Weather Affects the Behavior of Fish

Because fish are cold-blooded creatures and can’t regulate their body temperatures, much of their behavior depends on the ambient temperature. Specific weather conditions also mean more or less food and comfort for fish, leading to changes in how they act. So before you throw on your favorite outwear and head out to the lake, make sure you know what type of behavior to expect on any given day.

The Importance of Water Temperature

Water temperature plays a major role in the lives of fish. In general, the amount of energy a fish has and exerts is correlated to the ambient water temperature around it. Warmer water means a warmer body and more energy for activities like hunting for food, whereas colder water usually means lethargy and less energy expenditure, meaning less need for food. Water temperature also impacts how well fish can absorb oxygen from the water. Fish generally dive to cooler water to receive more oxygen.

Altogether, this means that fish will behave very differently between seasons. The water temperature isn’t likely to change much over the course of days, meaning you can expect predictable behavior within seasons. But summer and winter behavior will vary greatly. The biggest exception to this is when storms roll in, introducing large amounts of water that is likely a different temperature than the lake or pond.

How Storms Make a Difference

Storms mean rapid changes in water temperature, causing the fish to change their behavior. They also introduce new food into the ecosystem by knocking bugs into the water. This lures smaller fish to the surface, which may also attract larger fish to prey on the smaller ones.

When it’s windy, smaller fish may have a harder time moving against currents and waves. This causes them to end up closer to the banks than they might normally be, which in turn lures out predator fish, like largemouth bass.

Storms coming and going also change the barometric pressure, or the ambient air pressure. When a storm comes in, the pressure lowers, and when the weather clears up, it returns to higher levels. And the air pressure in turn changes the pressure underwater. Since fish have special organs that rely on the pressure to inform them about their environment, such as their swim bladders and lateral lines, storm fronts moving in or out impact fish behavior significantly. Lower pressure generally means more fish activity, making the hours leading up to a storm prime time for catching.


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