It’s Autumn here in the Rockies, and that means there is a war going on between Summer, and Winter weather. This war happens every year. We all know that Winter wins this war every year, eventually, but we never quite know how each battle will play out. Weather can change from day to day, hour to hour, or even minute to minute. This year has been particularly polarized as we’ve bounced back and forth between full on multi-day winter storms with big snows (September 29th and October 9th) and glorious Indian summer sunshine! The complex interplay among high and low pressure systems, cold and warm fronts, bright blue and gray overcast skies, and larger precipitation systems makes picking clothes feel complicated, and making fishing plans feel nearly impossible at times.
Ask any experienced angler about the effects of weather, wind, and changing barometric pressure/water temperature on fish and fishing, and you will surely get an answer. You might get 10 different answers even! You may hear that a falling barometer is a disaster for angling, or that wind can ruin everything. You may also hear that an incoming storm front can trigger a feeding binge of epic proportions. Others paint a more nuanced picture, citing rates of change in barometric pressure, the effect of sunlight on creatures that lack dilating pupils and eyelids, and maybe even throwing in something about solunar tables for good measure.
I have my own theories about weather and how it effects fishing, and sometimes I feel like I am able to effectively apply my opinions to a situation, resulting in great fishing. But I’ve seen a sure thing turn into a bust plenty of times too. I’m pretty confident that extreme weather and pressure changes can put the bite off on a lake, but I also feel like it effects river fish less. But subtle changes are still a mystery to me, perhaps because other factors end up coming into play in a way that makes patterning more challenging. One thing I do know is that if I have the chance to get out fishing, I never cancel the chance because I think a weather pattern will put the bite off. I might switch plans to fish one water to another because I think that I might have an insight as to which will fish better (or which might be less miserable given extreme wind or weather), but I still would rather be outdoors getting skunked than home wondering what might have been.
I will leave you with a final observation that may or may not be relevant to angling. I have three pet goldfish in a tank in my home. I’ve had them for many years, and have spent a lot of time watching them, because I find it both interesting and relaxing. During the summer, my goldfish are active nearly all of the time, swimming around in what I assume to be a happy state. When you walk into the room, they will often crowd into a corner and “freak out”, which I have come to translate as them “begging for food”. During the summer around here, high pressure systems and stable weather patterns are the norm, and my goldfish rarely change in their behavioral patterns. But in the spring and autumn, when we have more tumultuous weather patterns with often rapid changes in pressure, outdoor temperature, and cloud cover, there are times when my goldfish just aren’t their normal happy selves. Some days I catch them sulking, lying motionless with their bellies on the stones. Approaching the tank might make them wiggle a bit, but they don’t bother “begging for food”. I know they are healthy and that there has been no appreciable change in water chemistry/quality in their tank. I can only assume that, at those moments, the weather is having some sort of effect on their mood, as the sulking events typically coincide with the onset of significant weather changes. Sometimes they sulk for half a day. Sometimes it only seems like they sulk for an hour or so. Whenever I see them doing it, though, I wonder if the fish at the lake or down at the river are in a similar foul mood.
Take Care and Fish On,