There is little doubt that barometric pressure affects fishing even though facts are few and far between and hard for some to interpret. Barometric pressure is the force that the atmosphere exerts on the earth and its water. The air has weight to it and the more it weighs the harder it pushes down on the earth.
Low pressure happens when the air weighs less, high pressure when it weighs more. Masses of air, varying in weight, move overhead causing air pressure to vary. Radio, TV and NOAA weather stations all talk about the pressure in inches of mercury. Newspapers, on the other hand, often show a weather map with isobars of pressure in millibars (these are lines of equal pressure). If isobars of pressure only show a small change over a large distance, this means that the air mass is stable and the weather will not be changing much. If the isobars are closely spaced over a short distance, this means the barometric pressure is changing rapidly. When you see large bands of isobars close together, this defines a front, which is the interface between high pressure and low pressure areas.
Fronts mean changing weather, or unstable air masses. Fishing just prior to, or just after the passing of a front usually means a rapidly changing barometer and can often mean windy weather. If you are reading a weather map, note whether the weather moving toward you contains higher or lower isobars of barometric pressure, in millibars. If it is higher the weather is associated with a high pressure area, if it is lower it is a low pressure area. If the lines are far apart, this means the weather will remain the same for a while.
Now, what does this all have to do with fishing you are asking yourself? Pressure changes affect the tides and seem to affect the feeding habits of the fish in both tidal water and non tidal waters. Barometric pressure also seems to affect fish feeding habits. While little actual data is available, it is commonly accepted lore that fish feed well when the barometer is rising and poorly when it is falling. There also seems to be some documentation indicating that the fishing is poor when the barometer is very high or very low. I personally fish about 300 days a year and guide from boat and kayak and use the barometer every time I go out. I have found that when the barometer is rising I have better bites and more active fish; when the barometer is stable fishing is good. But when the barometer is between 30.0 and 29.7 and falling fishing is at its worst. By no means does this falling barometer mean you can’t catch them, but I have noticed a drop in bites and active fish. Saltwater and tidal freshwater fish seem to feed best when the tide is changing, when the barometer is changing and when dusk is changing the light intensity. Of course there are no golden rules to why fish bite, that is why we call it fishing. But when fish bite seems to have direct correlations to changing environmental conditions.
Saltwater fishing here in Florida is usually not as good two days before and two days after a full moon. I have personally found that if the barometer is rising that fishing during this time can be productive despite the moons phase.
Bass seems to have definite movements and feeding habits here in Florida and around the country that are directly connected to moon phases and barometer pressure reading. I recommend looking more at barometric changes and try to glean some other information from a weather map or meteorologists on what the barometer is before going out on your next fishing excursion. You might just find you had some definite tools missing from your toolbox.
The 13lb 2oz. bass below was caught during a rising barometer and a week before the full moon. The bass were feeding like there was no tomorrow.
As most big bass this one was solitary and buried deep along a flooded tree. I caught this beauty with a Shad Shaped Worm in color # 021. I use a one–two punch with all my fishing freshwater and saltwater. By one-two punch I mean I use search baits like a Swimming Senko or Phenix Jig (Chatter Bait) to locate fish then I follow up with a slower more surgical approach and use an Ika, Flappin’ Hog or Senko rigged weed-less to drop down into the gnarly cover. If the fish are lethargic or not apt to taking a large offering I will present them with a Shad Shaped Worm or a Kut tail worm on a 1/0 hook rigging Texas style and weight-less. I start always with a slow presentation then speed it up till the fish tell me what kind of retrieve they want.
Here are some basic trends I have found that work for me regarding barometer readings.
Typical Weather: Clear Skies
Fishing Trends: Fish slow down, find cover or go to deeper waters.
Typical Weather: Clearing or Improving
Fishing Trends: Fish tend to become slightly more active
Typical Weather: Fair
Fishing Trends: Normal Fishing
Typical Weather: Degrading
Fishing Trends: Most active fishing
Slightly Lower Pressure
Typical Weather: Usually Cloudy
Fishing Trends: Fishing head away from cover and seek shallower waters.
Typical Weather: Rainy and Stormy
Fishing Trends: Fish will tend to become less active the longer this period remains.
Look into this overlooked tool and I am sure you will find some correlations that help you catch more fish, learn patterns and find fish.