Can weather predict the best time to fish?

Published 9:22 am Friday, August 19, 2022


Summer weather always generates an interest in fishing, and over the ages there has been a lot of weather lore about when is a good time to go bait a line.

One example is that wind direction supposedly affects how well fish bite. Wind out of the west and south are supposedly good for fishing, while winds out of the north and east are not. There has been some research on this one, and so far there is no scientific backing for this information.

There is scientific backing for the belief that barometric pressure affects the fishing. Low barometer readings usually mean foul weather, while high readings are fair. For the best fishing, try to go when the barometer reads above 29.9 inches and is steady or rising. The inches refer to how many inches of mercury the air pressure can force up a tube. Readings below 29.9, or readings that are dropping, generally mean bad fishing. The very best fishing seems to occur during a steady medium-high barometric reading, 29.90 to 30.20 inches. A barometer is available specifically for fishing, and is an interesting instrument to hang on the wall.

There was a famous Englishman called Sir Francis Chantry who used a thermometer to tell how the fishing would be. If the water was warm and the air was cold, he would fish. He thought that at such times fish were active and insects were not, and so the fish would be hungry and prone to bite.

Most old-style calendars have solunar tables that predict when fishing will be good. These tables were developed by John Knight, who stole the idea from the Seminole Indians. It is based on the positions of the sun and the moon and is not scientifically supported, but many fishermen use it.

There’s a story that really good fishermen watch a goldfish bowl to tell when to go fishing.

When the aquarium is churning with hungry fish, head for the lake.

Steve Roark is a volunteer at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.