A Quick and Helpful Guide to Barometric Pressure and Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is a fun activity during the winter, but it can be quite a challenge if you don’t know the importance of specific factors, such as barometric pressure. It isn’t just about making sure that the ice is cold enough to fish on but to make sure that the air pressure is just right for fish to still come out.

But what is the connection between barometric pressure and ice fishing? Read on to find out its importance to get a successful catch!

Barometric Pressure and Ice Fishing

Before going out to fish or scheduling a trip, you always check for weather predictions. We study the temperature, the precipitation, even the wind directions, which affect the way fish act. However, a lot of us forget about the barometric pressure when ice fishing.

We don’t usually hear about the barometric pressure when listening to weather forecasts, but it doesn’t make it any less important. The rise and fall of this pressure can influence success when on the ice!

Barometric pressure is best described as the weight of air or the atmosphere. This is measured using a barometer, but how is air measured when it is considered as gas?

In terms of barometric pressure, we see air as a liquid, like water! The more air there is above you, the heavier it is, thus pushing down on you more. With less air, this means less pressure.

So as pressure rises, the atmosphere becomes heavier, which will exert even more force to our surface.

With that said, it shows that when the front approaches, the pressure falls. When the front passes, the pressure will rise. High pressure is heavy and stable air masses which will block any upcoming storms while low pressure will cause less stable weather during the storm.

Summing it up, fair weather with clear skies indicate high pressure, while stormy or cloudy skies show low pressure.

Compared to summer, such force can give more influence on fish during the winter season and when fishing on ice-covered water.


This is because when there’s a thick sheet of ice covering the water, there will be less water volume for fish. So when a front passes and barometric pressure rises, fish will head to even deeper waters, becoming lethargic.

How Fish Respond to Barometric Pressure Changes

how fish respond to barometric pressure changes

Why are fish so affected with barometric pressure changes during winter and how does it affect ice fishing?

The air will push down on the ice while the ice will push on water. The fish will be able to feel pressure because they have air bladders, which is an organ to help maintain their neutral buoyancy underwater.

The change of barometric pressure will slowly change the pressure in air bladders for buoyancy adjustment. Fish air bladders are very sensitive as pressure changes underwater.

So when there is higher barometric pressure, fish will feel uncomfortable with the increase of pressure in the air bladder. Their enlarged air bladders will take up more space in their bodies, so they feel fuller and will be less likely to feed. This has them become less active, going deeper into the waters.

As the barometric pressure lowers, fish will feel less pressure in their air bladders. This has them become more active until weather conditions will worsen.

With all this in mind, when is it best to go ice fishing based on barometric pressure?

In general, you’ll want to go ice fishing as the barometric pressure falls. This would happen then low pressure is approaching and the weather worsens.

Here are what you should expect with fish behavior based on the barometric pressure:

  • During clearer skies and high pressure, about 30inHg or higher, fish will move towards deeper waters such as a hump or rock reefs. Fish will bite less as they slow down, so it will be a slow day.
  • During fair weather and average pressure, about 29-30inHg, it will be another usual fishing trip.
  • During rainy or cloudy weather with low pressure below 29inHg, expect usual fishing days but a bit less activity.
  • When there is rising pressure and weather improves, you’ll have more bites.
  • When there is little pressure change with fairer weather and a few clouds, it’s another average fishing day.
  • When there is falling pressure and you can sense the weather worsening or storms approaching, that is the best time to go ice fishing. Fish will be aggressively feeding, biting whatever is presented to them. But once a storm arrives, the fishing will slow down and that’s the time to leave for your safety as well.

Read More: How Does Weather Affect Ice Fishing: The Factors to Consider

Measuring Barometric Pressure

Now that you know how important barometric pressure is with ice fishing, how do you measure it?

You can use old-style glass barometers, or go digital with tech gadgets. But if you don’t have any of those, don’t worry.

There are great weather apps and websites that accurately track the barometric pressure and other important factors of the weather in whatever area you’re from.

You should check the weather and barometric pressure before leaving to go ice fishing, or to schedule your trip around good weather and average to falling pressure.

For me, I would rather go ice fishing during fair weather and only slightly cloudy days. This will have you catch a lot of fish without risking your safety compared to fishing on days the weather worsens.

Are you still wondering about how important barometric pressure is for ice fishers? Check out this informative video:

Wrapping It Up

When ice fishing, you don’t only pay attention to the temperature and wind, but the barometric pressure as well! This important factor can make or break a fishing trip, so be sure to check your apps and news to get a more accurate measurement. That way, you won’t waste time and will get more success in the use of fishing.

I hope that this article on barometric pressure and ice fishing helped you out. So don’t wait any longer and start considering these aspects for a better fishing trip.

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