Stillwater Angler Fishing Report
As with a lot of outdoor activities, with fly fishing, there is a direct relationship between the weather and fishing conditions.
For starters, so much is temperature driven, particularly the water temperature. Insect hatches are to a large degree determined by water temperature, and water temperature and barometric pressure significantly influence fish behavior.
What does all of this mean to anglers? Much of the time what most of us would call “nice” days weather wise result in poorer fishing conditions, and days that are cool, overcast, cloudy, drizzly or even rainy can be excellent fishing days.
Bright and sunny days are more comfortable for the angler to be sure, but from a fish’s standpoint, there may not be as abundant food sources, and they also may be less likely to feed on what is available.
Often times fish will be more selective and cautious in these types of conditions because they are more exposed to their predators. An overhead raptor can much more easily discern a fish in the water when there is sunlight and the shadow and contrast is more visible, than during periods of reduced visibility when there is little or no contrast and shadow.
Poorer light conditions are also more forgiving for the angler as little or no shadow is cast and there is almost a natural camouflage effect with the background. Rain or drizzle may put a bit of a chop on the water too, which also makes visibility more difficult for predators.
Another weather element that significantly affects fish behavior is barometric pressure. One thought as to why this is that fish may sense pressure changes through its air bladder. Trout have a larger air bladder than many fish. When pressure is dropping there is less pressure on the air bladder. When there is less pressure, the bladder expands a bit, and when the bladder expands there is some discomfort. So to relieve the discomfort, fish will move lower in the water column or absorb extra gas in their bladder. Because of the discomfort, the fish are more concerned with relieving the stress on their body, and less concerned with eating. They’re apt to try and seek out a water depth where they can stabilize their bladder pressure and feel more comfortable.
During periods of transition from a prolonged period of high pressure when a cold front and the low pressure ahead of the front, fish can sense the change coming and may respond with a change in feeding patterns, sometimes feeding heavily right before the change. They may then feed less aggressively when the pressure drop arrives.
Conversely, there may be an adjustment period in behavior when moving back from a low to high pressure. As with a lot of things, stability, whether high or low, probably produces more predictable behavior and therefore, more predicable fishing conditions. Using this theory, during periods of low pressure, anglers may need to adjust their tactics and fish deeper down in the water column with nymphs or streamers.
Therefore, it pays for the angler to pay attention to the weather forecast for more than just the temperature and wind. Just a thought.
As for fishing, watch those water temperatures on the Stillwater; they’ve been getting up to the 70 degree range which isn’t good!
Finally, the past week or so I’ve had the opportunity to fish with several first time fly fisher persons; from a 9-year-old boy to an old Marine buddy of mine, friends in the community too. The excitement and enthusiasm of these anglers is infectious and I thrive off of it! Tight Lines
Chris Fleck owns and operates Stillwater Anglers Fly Shop and Outfitters in Columbus.