Cold Weather Fish Are Biting, You Just Need to Find Them

Cold Weather Fish Are Biting, You Just Need to Find Them


Contrary to popular opinion, fish do not hibernate, nor do they stop eating when the temperature drops and lakes freeze over. Cold weather fishing presents a unique opportunity for anglers, but there are also some challenges that require adaptation in order to be successful. Let’s take a look at how you can turn the winter months into prime fishing season, and you will be able to enjoy fresh protein all year long.

Fish Become Less Active

The first rule of cold weather fish behavior is that they become less active. Food sources become scarce, cold water reduces their body temperatures, and fish prefer to slow down in order to save energy and conserve heat. This means that they are less likely to chase as much bait as they do in the summer. However, fish are still hungry and need to eat. They will be more than happy to chomp on an easy meal if it shows up in close proximity to where they are situated.

Fish also tend to congregate and clump together. During the summer, fish scatter throughout their body of water in search of ideal conditions of shelter, warmth and access to food. However, during the winter, fish tend to find the warmest part of the body of water and stay there. This means that catching fish should be easier once you know where they are hanging out, simply because there’s so many of them in one place.


Follow the Heat

Think of what parts of the lake are the warmest. Is it the bottom in the middle beneath a thick sheet of ice? Perhaps it’s on the northern edge of the lake where they can enjoy the most sunlight and least amount of wind. Where fish prefer to be will vary from location to location, so it will take some trial and error as well as experience to help you to know where to go for maximum success.

Chances are that fish will be more active in the day as opposed to the early morning or late evening hours. This has to do with heat in addition to the fact that there is an absence of insects that are most active before and after the sun goes down. The warmest part of winter days tends to be for a few hours during the late morning to late afternoon. Plan on fishing during these times for the most success.

ice fishing

Change Bait

There is a continual debate over bait out there, and unfortunately, there are no answers that work best for everyone. One camp believes that using lighter, shinier baits and lures during the winter attracts fish out of their stupor. On the other hand, there’s also a camp that holds to the idea that darker baits and lures work best in murky, cold water near the bottoms of lakes. Be prepared to change the type of bait that you are using based on the changes in fish behavior that are occurring in your lake or pond. The good news is that once you find out what works best, then you can use that strategy over and over again, so you only need to spend time experimenting once in many cases.


Conserve Your Energy

Don’t forget to dress appropriately, remain hydrated and minimize the expenditure of energy as you fish during the cold weather months. Learn how to fish strategically in order to maximize catches with minimal time. You can’t be out there all day long, unless you are ice fishing and have a source of shelter and heat. However, you can learn to hone in on the best times and best spots in order to catch-and-go in a short period over time.

Don’t let cold temperatures discourage you from fishing, because they are alive and well and usually hungry. The trick is to adapt and follow their patterns of activity in order to maximize your success while minimizing effort.