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Water Temperature and Fish Activity

Fall is in the air here at FishVault and with the oncoming temperature changes, we thought it might be helpful to discuss water temperature and fishing success. With customers all over the country, the timing of this will be different for each of you, but the general principle will remain the same. Let's dive into it (no pun intended)...

Knowing how fish react to their environment and throughout the various seasons (and temperature changes) can help hone your approach and improve your catch rates. All species of freshwater fish are cold blooded. Unable to maintain their body temperature at a constant level, as humans and other warm-blooded animals do, their internal temperature and functions are influenced by the temperature of their surroundings. This directly impacts when they eat and how much as well as their overall activity levels.

Different fish species prefer different water temperatures. There are actually "warm" and "cold" water fish that have different preferences and tolerances. For example, lake trout, a cold-water species, can tolerate (survive) temperatures up to 70 to 73°F but has a core preferred temperature range of 46-59°F. Smallmouth bass, a warm-water species, can tolerate temperatures up to 86 °F and prefer temperatures above 68°F. Listed below are a few examples of popular fish species and their favorite temperature:

Lake Trout – 48 Degrees
Silver Salmon – 52 Degrees
Brook Trout – 54 Degrees
Brown Trout – 61 Degrees
Yellow Perch – 62 Degrees
Smallmouth Bass – 68 Degrees
Largemouth Bass – 70 Degrees

Warm-water fish, such as largemouth bass, bluegill, and pumpkinseed, are an excellent target choice during the hot summer months, due to their preferred temperate range. They can be located within shallow water during extreme heat (although often hidden under cover) but exhibit lockjaw for the most part once water temperatures plummet during late fall periods and over winter.

In sharp contrast, cold-water species, such as lake trout can be caught during the warm water periods of summer, but only in deep and cool waters, as recognized by their core temperature preference. Fish will be found shallow during early spring, as water temperatures are significantly cool at this time of year, and fish will remain until warmer water gradually pushes them deep. These same cold-water fish, however, will continue to actively bite once ice forms, and are an excellent choice for anglers to target when the deep freeze sets in.

Keep an eye on the water temperature next time you hit the water. It will definitely give you a clue to what fish might be biting. Just remember, whether warm or cold, the gear that you get in your FishVault Fishing Subscription box will give you the best chance for success.