Water Temperature and Fish Behavior

Water temperature plays an important role in how various species of game fish behave. Successful anglers pay serious attention to the water temperature of the river, stream, lake or pond they are fishing. Water temperature will affect the various fishing seasons, but it will also impact where the fish can be found and what they are eating on a daily basis. Learning how water temperature affects your targeted species of fish can drastically improve your ultralight fishing results.

water temperature affecting ultralight fishing

Seasonal Temperature Changes

For most ultralight fishing enthusiasts the best times of the year to fish are the Spring, Summer and Fall. This is because the water temperatures are generally warmer during these seasons and many different species of fish are either feeding or breeding, which makes them easier to catch. Ice fishermen know that the fishing doesn’t stop during the colder months. Colder water temperatures that occur during winter change the behaviors of most types of game species. Cold water fishes, such as trout, walleye and yellow perch will remain active during these colder water temps, and can still be caught. Warm water species, like catfish, largemouths and smallmouths may slow down their body processes and are much harder to catch when the water temps are low.

Changes in Seasonal Water Temperatures

When the water temperatures begin to change as Winter turns into Spring, the behaviors of fish will often change with it. For a number of game species, warmer water temps will create an urge to spawn and the fish will move into specific spawning locations. Spawning fish will often aggressively defend their nesting sites, which can make them easier to catch on a lure. During the summer, when the water temperature is much higher, warmer water species like largemouths, smallmouths and catfish are actively hunting for food. Some colder species like Muskies will get more aggressive in the fall, when the water temp begins to drop. Knowing which fish are likely to be more active during certain water temperatures will tell you where to fish and what to fish for.

Ultralight fishing in the ice

Water Temperatures Can Directly Control a Fish’s Daily Activities

Water temperatures can also affect where and what a fish does on a daily schedule. The summertime is a great example of this. Changes in water temperature on a weekly or daily schedule will cause fish to move and eat. If you can predict where a specific game fish will be and what they will be eating during these times, your chances of catching more fish will rise dramatically. For example, colder water has more oxygen in it, so the colder sections of a lake, like where the water is the deepest, is where you are most likely to find colder water fishes such as lake trout. Shallow water may warm up faster, so you may find feeding bass in the warmer shallow waters earlier in the day. Once the day gets warmer the fish may move to deeper and cooler waters. A fish’s body temperature is regulated by the water around them. So very cold or very hot water will probably not be ideal for holding fish. Find the right water temperature and you are likely to find the type of fish you are looking for. Thermoclines, or places in lakes and ponds where cold and warm water meet are often great places to locate hungry, stalking fish.

How to Determine Water Temperature

Great anglers know how to find the various water temperatures they are looking for. A water thermometer or an electronic fish finding device are great ways to find out exactly what the water temperature of a specific area is. You can also use visual clues to determine water temps. For example, deep water that is far away from the surface is likely to be colder than shallow water. Shaded water is also likely to be cooler than a spot of the lake that is in the sun.

photo credit: Pete Morawski via photopin cc

photo credit: dibytes via photopin cc

Don’t Forget to check out our Ultralight Fishing Post!

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