There are all kinds
of things that you must keep track of when you’re going
From the type of bait you use, to the rod that works best for
a given species of fish, the list of things you have to remember
can feel overwhelming. However, knowing the best barometric
pressure for fishing is something you absolutely cannot
overlook. When you’re considering the best times of day to fish,
barometric pressure is one of those daily and seasonal
fluctuations that will play a huge role in how many fish you
catch – if any. Here’s a quick guide to understanding barometric
pressure as it relates to your fishing.
What Is Barometric Pressure?
Barometric pressure is also referred to as “atmospheric
pressure.” It is simply the force that is created by the weight
of the air...But wait – isn’t air weightless?
To a certain extent, yes. However, the combination of water
vapor, gas atoms, and an assortment of other particles all
produce a light force on the surface of the earth. At the top of
a mountain, you are going to have less air above you than if you
were at sea level. Therefore, a location at altitude has a lower
barometric pressure than one at sea level.
While barometric pressure remains relatively consistent in a
climate, many factors can influence fluctuations related to
local weather patterns. These weather patterns create pressure
ridges of air that impact the barometric pressure. Numerous
factors can impact barometric pressure, but it is ultimately
determined by the temperature and the movement of the
atmosphere. These two factors can cause both high and low
While high pressure usually creates weather conditions that
are clear, dry, and calm, low pressure gives you those days that
are undeniably miserable – cloudy, windy, and wet. As a general
rule of thumb, air tends to travel from areas of high pressure
to areas of low pressure, which can intensify the weather
conditions I mentioned above.
The lower the barometric pressure is in a given area, the
closer to the surface the bad weather will fall – and the worse
the weather will get where you are, too.
What Are The Normal Ranges Of Barometric Pressure?
As I mentioned a moment ago, the biggest predictor of
barometric pressure will be the local environment. If you live
at a high altitude, your barometric pressure will likely be
lower. However, there are also “normal” ranges that you might
experience and can reference to determine whether it is a high
or low-pressure day.
A baseline pressure
that can be used is about 29-30 inHg (inches Mercury).
Again, this depends on your elevation – so you will want to
keep track of your local weather patterns to determine the
baseline conditions in your area. As a storm system moves into
your area, those readings are going to change. Right in the
middle of a storm, barometric pressure readings will be low –
about 26 to 29, in general...But as the storm moves out, the
barometric pressure will begin to rise. The pressure will
gradually creep back up to normal. If it gets higher than 30
inHg, it can be considered a “high pressure” day.
How Does Barometric Pressure Affect Fishing?
If you’re an experienced angler, you probably already know
that the weather impacts fishing. Therefore, it stands to reason
that barometric pressure impacts fishing, too, since it affects
the weather...Here’s how.
Although fish are far beneath the surface of the water, they
can still sense the changes in atmospheric pressure. This is
because their organs experience a change of pressure. Fish feel
the changes in barometric pressure via their air bladders, also
known as swim bladders. These organs are inflated air sacs that
help fish maintain their buoyancy.
When the barometric pressure goes down, the air bladder will
inflate to accommodate for the lessened pressure. When it rises,
the bladder will shrink. These organs, responsible for helping
to keep fish afloat, will experience pain and discomfort as the
pressure changes. They may have a more difficult time staying
To a fish, an inflated swim bladder will feel like a bloated
belly for a human. Not comfortable, right? That’s why they want
to move around to get rid of the pressure in their bellies. This
change is especially pronounced in small fish. Fish that are
naturally tiny may feel the effects of pressure changes more
easily than those that are larger.
As a result, the fish will head out into deeper waters to
weather out a storm. This exodus will help them relieve their
discomfort and become more balanced, too. By swimming deeper
into the water, the fish will enjoy higher pressure from the
weight of the water alone. This reduces the size of the swim
bladder. It’s not unlike the pressure changes that occur in an
airplane when you fly. While we need advanced technology to stay
breathing and comfortable, fish are unique because, they have
everything they need to make the change themselves.
It’s important to note that the pressure change from a normal
or even a high-pressure day won’t have much of an impact on the
fish. They will feel more comfortable feeding at all levels of
the water column and will likely be more active, too.
Fish are often more active, in regards to feeding, when the
atmospheric pressure is changing. They tend to feed more right
before a storm as well as when it’s moving out. Keep an eye on
the barometric pressure, because both of these times will be
prime time for going fishing.
Not All Fish Are The Same
What is important to note is that not all fish are the same –
some fish are not always impacted by the change in barometric
pressure like others are. However, despite not being affected in
the same way, all fish
are ultimately affected. Even if they don’t notice any changes,
it’s likely that the prey they eat will sense the change in
Where prey goes,
predatory fish will follow.
So it stands to reason that as prey feel a change in pressure
and head to deeper water to weather the storm, the bigger fish
are going to follow them, too.
High Pressure Vs. Low Pressure For Fishing
While you can fish during times of both high and low
pressure, the very best time to go fishing is when the
barometric pressure is in the process of changing. Again, fish
are more likely to feed at these times.
If the barometric pressure is dropping, use faster bait. The
fish will be more likely to chase it down since they will be
feeding more actively and voraciously. Once the pressure starts
to rise after being in a period of low pressure, prepare
yourself for a brief period of sluggish feeding behavior. The
fish might take some time to turn back on. In fact, it can take
a full 12 to 24 hours for them to start feeding again once the
storm has moved through.
Fishing In High Pressure
When the weather is good, fishing in high pressure may seem
like a cinch. However, there are changes you are going to want
to make to improve your fishing success.
For starters, you might want to consider your fishing
technique. If you are in a kayak or a small boat,
you’ll have an advantage as the water will be calm. That being
said, don’t be afraid to fish deep waters. Fish might still be
hanging out near structures or in the “deep end.” They also
might not be quite as active as they would during a change in
barometric pressure, even though the weather is good.
Fish will bite at a slow to medium rate and generally hang
out near deep water or undercover. Keep in mind that other
factors are impacted during periods of stable barometric
pressure, too. For instance, lunar phases, water currents,
tides, and wind direction can all help you predict where fish
are found. Noting these factors can be helpful if you aren’t
sure where else to look – or if you think that barometric
pressure isn’t the cause of your fishing troubles.
Fishing In Low Pressure
When the barometric pressure is low, fish will hang out in
deep water. As I told you earlier, they will want to stay deep
to help keep the pressure equalized and comfortable in their air
bladders. Because the fish are hunkered down, waiting for the
storm to pass, they aren’t going to be feeding as actively.
Your success on the water will likely be impacted – if the
fish aren’t biting, you’re not going to catch them. Fishing will
likely slow considerably during times of low pressure. They will
stop feeding or slow their feeding and hang out in deep water or
undercover. However, that’s not to say that you’re totally
without hope. You can always try using bait that moves more
slowly – and try fishing where you know the fish are hiding –
during these times, too.
How To Keep Track Of Barometric Pressure Yourself
Barometric pressure is measured in various units of
measurement. It is typically referred to in mb, or millibars, by
meteorologists. That being said, it can also be documented in
hectopascals, which is a recognized measurement by the World
Meteorological Organization. In the United States, barometric
pressure is also recorded in inches of mercury, or inHg. If
you’re trying to get a handle on what the barometric pressure is
where you intend to fish, check your phone. Most weather apps
will tell you the pressure both now as well as the predicted
pressure in the future.
Standard pressure (at sea level – you will have to make
adjustments for altitude) is 29.92 inHg or 1013 hPa. Anything
higher is considered high pressure, and anything lower is low
pressure. Most weather services offer easy to read barometers or
barometric graphs that show upcoming forecasts in addition to
the last few days. It can be helpful to glance at the storm
systems and barometric pressure trends that revolve around those
trends. This will give you a good idea of how the fishing will
be during those times.
You can also purchase a barometer for your home. These can be
either analog or digital and are relatively easy to read. You
can find more information on how to do that by watching this
If you don’t have a way of keeping track of barometric
pressure, just watch the weather. If it’s clear, sunny, and calm
– in other words, a bluebird day – you’re dealing with a
So, What Is The Best Barometric Pressure For Fishing?
The best barometric pressure for fishing will be somewhere
between 29.70 and 30.40. This is best for “normal” fishing – if
there’s any new lures or baits you want to try, or any fishing
techniques you want to try your hand at, now will be the
time. You won’t have to worry about the weather and the
barometric pressure giving you false reading for results on what
works and what doesn’t.
If you’re not interested in trying anything new but simply
want to take advantage of the weather conditions that Mother
Nature is giving you, the best time for fishing will be when the
weather is rapidly going downhill and deteriorating – in other
words when the pressure is falling.
Not only will the fish be apt to feed on anything, but
they’ll be on the move, too.
You’re likely to slam all kinds of fish, even those that are
larger and predatory in nature and are less unaffected by
changes to their swim bladders. However, if you know how to fish
in all kinds of conditions, there’s nothing to say that you
can’t make lemons out of lemonade and fish in times of both high
and low (or even changing) barometric pressure, too.
It’s simply a matter of knowing what techniques work well in
these conditions – and what works well for the fish, too!
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