Saturday, February 16, 2008

How The Barometer Affects The Fish Bite

Ahoy there Anglers,

Barometer in fishing forecasts:
Familiarity with atmospheric pressure is essential in the understanding of weather because the pressure distribution in the atmosphere controls the winds and to a considerable extent, it affects the occurrence of clouds and rain.
I know, anglers want to know how the barometer affects the fish biting. The barometer affects when fish, animals and humans even, feed more. Humans are used to eating at certain, regular times of the day and evening so you won’t recognize the times when this happens as much but you may recall times when you just can’t get full. You feel more hungry than normal or you may not feel as hungry at your regular mealtime. The barometer is at play during these times. We just don’t notice it as much because of our ‘regular’, by the clock meal times.
Now, depending on all things normal, a rising barometer is when fishing is at it’s best. A rapidly fluctuating barometer, (pressure going up and down within a few hours) is an indication of good fishing also. A static barometer, (when the barometer is steady for hours at a time) the fishing is usually poor. When the barometer is falling the fishing is usually good for the first part, (like the start of fluctuating pressure) but if it continues to fall for several hours then it gets slower and slower and if the barometer is unusually low then it’s very poor fishing. This time of the year though, the cold water temperatures can make the difference between fish biting or not. When the water temperatures drop suddenly then it stuns the fish as they are submerged and are the same temperature as the water. It will need to even out for a few days after a sudden drop to allow the fish to get used to the new temperature.
My dad used to say if the cows are lying down in the pasture then it’s not a good time to go fishing because the animals are not feeding but if they’re standing up and eating then it’s time to go!
The words “Fair-Change-Rain” on most barometers are mainly decorative. It depends on the pressure AND the temperatures as to what’s in the forecast. It is generally true that a rapidly falling barometer forecasts the development of strong winds. This is so because a falling barometer indicates the approach of a low and the pressure gradient is usually steep in the area of a low-pressure center. On the other hand, a rising barometer is associated with the prospect of lighter winds to come. This is true because a rising barometer indicates the approach or development of a high and the pressure gradient is characteristically less steep in the area of a high-pressure center. The barometer does not necessarily fall before or during a strong breeze. The wind often blows hard without any large change in the barometer. This means that a steep pressure gradient exists but that the well-developed high or low associated with the steep pressure is practically stationary. In this case, the wind may be expected to blow hard for some time. Any slackening or change will take place gradually.
A general rule is, with your back to the wind the low pressure is to your left. The use of this rule has helped many sailors to head for calmer seas.
Other barometer rules are:
Foul weather is usually forecast by a falling barometer with winds from the east.
Clearing and fair weather is usually forecast by winds shifting the west and a rising barometer.
When the wind sets in from the points between the south and southeast and the barometer falls steadily, a storm is approaching from the west or northwest and it’s center will pass north or your area within 12 to 24 hours and then the wind will veer to the northwest by way of the south and then southwest.
When the winds sets in from the east and northeast and the barometer starts to fall steadily then a storm is approaching from the south or southwest and will pass in your area within 12 to 24 hours and then the wind will back to the northwest by way of the north.
How fast the storm’s approach and its likely intensity will be indicated by the rate and the amount of fall in the barometer.
A falling barometer and a rising temperature often forecasts rain.
Barometer and thermometer rising together often forecasts fine weather.
A slowly rising barometer forecasts settled weather.
A steady-slow falling of pressure indicates forthcoming unsettled or wet weather.
All this may seem unimportant to fishing but then fish are used to feeding in certain conditions and when those conditions are optimal the feed is better. Lower winds allow natural baits to swim closer to the surface, like grass shrimp or mullet, and the fish can locate their meals better when they can see them easier. When they can find them easier then they want to feed as much as possible before the baits become hard to find again. When the pressure begins to change, the fish can feel the change and they feed while the getting is good. When fish feel the pressure is changing, the winds begin to blow, the rains come, the water gets cloudier and the natural baits are harder to find. Nature takes care of this intuition to help them survive. The barometer or atmospheric pressure is Nature’s way of letting animals know that they had better eat now if they’re going to.
Now we’ve all seen beautiful, sunny days when it looks like the fish ought to feed like crazy but they just won’t bite a thing. That’s what we call “blue bird days”. If you check your barometer reading often you can see a steady, non-changing pressure and it could change in the next half hour or hour or two. If you’re already out there, don’t give up. I always say, “the best time to go fishing is when you can!”

Here's where the most action is at the moment. This winter has been harsh. Our water temperature has not been this low in many, many years. I checked back with my logs and I don't even see water temperatures down to 53 degrees much less the 51 degrees we had last month, (where's the global warming?) It's all about to change though in the next week or so. Customers of mine know it also and they've booked up almost the entire month of March and half of April early. Talk about your global warming, yesterday I had three customers out and we almost froze. 31 degrees and it never got out of the 50's. Didn't take jackets off all day. Can you believe that's happening right now? Anyway, redfish are schooled up and that's a good thing except for when you don't see them moving around and then spook them with the boat. They're just holding in locations, sitting still in the mud warming their bellies. Today it was slick as glass and there were redfish everywhere. We caught some nice keeper redfish to 26 3/4". Perfect. I bet we saw 150 reds in the shallows in probably 6 to 8 different schools. It's so much fun casting to those guys when you see them and then watching them fight in the shallows. A couple winter flounder here and there but not many and no size to them.

Spotted trout doing better now, (of course it's closed season now), whiting and yellow mouth trout doing better now also. A few black drum still in the river system but it's nothing you can count on. One day you might get 9 and the next day you might get 3 if any at all. That'll all change too in the next couple of weeks too. It'll be a real difference in just a short time now. I've actually seen a few bull redfish still in the river and that's kind of strange for this time of the year. The sheepshead should be firing up in about another week or two in areas up the rivers and don't forget about the giant drum. They'll be coming in at the full moon next month and will hang around for about 4 weeks. Please revive and release those giants. They're not good to eat with all those worms inside them and most importantly, they'll supply our future drum.

The rage will be sheepshead and good, eating-sized black drum in just another week or so. Look for the action to really begin to fire off real soon. Large female sheepshead will be heading in to lay their eggs on the sandbars, hard bottoms and deep rock areas around the jetties and up the rivers. Don't overlook humps on your depth finders and especially areas where your bottom line gets thicker. Regular sized sheepshead from 1 to 6 pounds will be biting at the boulders too during this time. Yellow mouth trout and whiting in the sandier areas around the jetties and check out the speckled trout just around the corner/end of the South jetty. You can float fish live shrimp for these guys just back from the end on the outside. Ringtails bite better on the outgoing tides and they're very good to eat also.

The whiting moved so far South that they've been about non-existent this season in the Jacksonville area. That should also change real soon too. I'm afraid that I don't have much to report in the 'surf section' this month but expect that to change very soon.
Remember, please secure your trash after eating and drinking aboard your boat, fishing on the bridges or on the shores. Please take your trash back with you and don't let it end up in our beautiful waterways. Mother Nature needs all the help we can give her. Let's all help!

You can say what you want about the South but, you never hear of anyone retiring and moving up North,,,,,

Capt. Vic Tison
Web site:
P.O. Box 28208
Jax., Fl. 32226-8208

Neither Captain Vic nor Vic2Fish & Adventures, Inc. claims any responsibility for any injury or loss of property arising out of any party using these Fishing Reports.If you no longer wish to receive Capt. Vic's Fishing Reports, please e-mail me to unsubscribe and I'll remove your address from the lists.