Barometric pressure effects on Catfishing!



I’ve heard guys say that they wasn’t gonna fish because the air pressure wasn’t right, There has always been a debate as to whether the barometric pressure truly effects catfishing by anglers and scientist. but if you’re not going fishing because the atmospheric pressure isn’t what you’d hoped it would be, you could be missing out on some great catfishing trips.

 In fact, the majority of us probably go fishing when we can, not necessarily when we should.  For the most part, many fishermen choose to go fishing on warm, sunny days when there is no chance of rain.  That is always great for the fisherman and this strategy sounds very reasonable. But is it?
There is hard evidence which indicates that this may, indeed, be the worst time to try to catch fish.  Reason being, is because the high (barometric) pressure conditions which give rise to these beautiful days are not the times when fish are stimulated to aggressively feed.  They still feed, but they can be difficult to locate and entice them to take your bait. However do not let this issue affect your fishing trips.

Barometric pressure is a measure of atmospheric pressure in essence it’s the measure of the weight of the air pressure in the atmosphere. It is more commonly referred to as barometric pressure because the instrument used to measure it is called a barometer. Normal atmospheric pressure is 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi), or 29.92 inches on the barometric scale and spans usually from just under 28 (inches) in extremely bad, low pressure weather to just under 31 inches in high pressure situations. Air pressure is caused by gravity which pulls at the air just as it does with everything else. Barometric pressure changes due to weather systems moving in and out of an area.

 Blaa! Blaa! Blaa! I’m not going to bore you with scientific mumble jumble, but if you really want to learn more about the physics behind the barometric pressures, there’s tons of scientific information on the web. Here is a link.

Here is the bottom line about the atmospheric pressures and fishing and what anglers should understand when it comes to conditions. A very high pressure system usually brings with it clear skies and generally nicer weather but less considerable conditions for fishing. Very low pressure systems are the opposite usually bringing precipitation and more unfavorable weather but more favorable fishing conditions. But a steady barometer is considered to always be best.

There are arguments on both sides by scientist and anglers disputing the fact of if the atmospheric pressure indeed effects the fish at all.  It seems to me, in pretty much all instances, that it’s the scientist that supports the fact that there is no strong influence in regards to barometric pressure and fishing; most anglers on the other hand have something else to say about that entirely and will disagree. And I am one angler that is in disagreement because I’ve seen the effect first hand.

Some anglers go so far as to stay at home if the conditions aren’t right. I honestly can’t say one way or the other which is correct, but for me, I’m not going to let that stop me from going catfishing. If I have a chance to get on the river or lake, I’m there! Whether the fishing forecast is good, bad or ugly. Through my experience, I’m going to take the side of the angler over the scientist on this dispute, simply because there is more anglers out there every day compared to scientists studying barometric pressure and it’s affect on fishing.

Most anglers will agree that fish are more active when pressure is steady, or slightly fluctuating. Through my experience I would agree that I have consistently done well on such days. But when the pressure starts to fall from the norm is when anglers seem to regard this as the best time to fish.

Being on the water year round leaves me a lot time to think about how to make myself a better angler. The simple answer is knowledge. The more you know about the species, the body of water, different techniques, and of course, weather will put more fish in your boat.

From my findings, stable pressure, fairly close to the norm of 29 – 30.40 inches has been the most productive and there is some consistency. However because I don’t let the condition stop me from fishing, one of my best days this year was during high pressure system. It turned out to be an awesome day but totally goes against most theories and observation that we are most confident in.  Once the nice weather came in, the fishing got much more enjoyable, in both numbers and comfort. Why, I don’t know. It could be that we aren’t fishing as effectively as we would normally and this might be why our production is lacking. Could also be that we feel more motivated to do all the little things when I’m not frustrated by miserable weather. When it’s nasty you just want to sit down and not move for fear of opening a crack in your rain gear, so you neglect those little things. And that will cost you, no question. Always stay positive.

Not catching fish on unstable days could also determine your fate when you factor in all the elements that generally come with a weather system such as rain, wind, rough water. Boat control is made much more difficult if you’re trolling, drifting or trying to stay on one spot. Either way it defiantly gives us a handicap.

So is it the low pressure, or the weather? Does it matter?

My own personal APT (angler’s personal theory) on this topic is only though my experience and reasoning of years of fishing. When the pressure is normal catish will suspend and travel to feed throughout the water column and will be more active, but on those high pressure days it seems to noticeably affect the catfish in some way, driving them as low as the can get to the bottom and making them less active. My APT tells me this because the fish I have caught on these high pressure days all have had mud soaked slime coats, indicating they are holding tight to the bottom and not moving much, also the fishes belly seems to be bloated and hard as a rock,  and it’s not from gorging on food. so with this in mind, I have to believe that there are some sort of natural physics at work here with atmospheric pressures messing with the is hydrostatic pressure somehow, which is much more intense than air pressure due to water being considerably denser that air.

But that’s why we call it fishing and not catching. But the more you know the less you need luck on your side. The effects of barometric pressure will always be up for debate among anglers and one thing I can tell you is that there will never be anything set in stone when it comes to fishing and there is always a chance that you will put your bait in the right place for that biggun to take. Just like in 2009, one of my pro staff members was fishing on Wheeler Lake in Alabama on a cold, high sky bluebird day and landed a monster 102 lb blue catfish. So even if the barometric pressure isn’t favorable get out there and enjoy a day on the water because you never know.



  1. Great article as usual Steve! I think now I am going to start keeping a log of dates, times, locations, and weather each time I go out.

  2. admin says:

    thats a good idea matt. good luck

  3. nodetihw says:

    Each time you look at the barometer reset the manual needle that most of have then you can see which direction it heading, up or down. All meters have drag in the mechanics. Just tap the meter lightly and watch which way the meter needle jumps. It could high but traveling down, and vica versa.
    Good Luch

  4. Wv.Reuben says:

    Just adding to the Ohio river cats…I’ve found that fishing live bluegill in the tunnels joining the back waters to the river with a circle hook and no weight have been catching some 40+ pound flat heads for me..Just let the current pull the bait fish into the tunnel and hold on….I’ve been using 3″ to 4″ bluegill..Happy fishing hope i helped some here on the river…Hope to meet some of you on the waters this year…

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