Barometric pressure can be one of the most important factors to consider when fishing.
During periods of rising or falling barometric pressure, crappie move frequently and are significantly more aggressive. Conversely, when the barometric pressure is stable, crappie tend to hunker down in a particular location and are less aggressive.
What is barometric pressure?
Barometric pressure is the pressure of the earth’s atmosphere and is sometimes called air pressure. It gets its name from the tool used to measure it – a barometer.
Barometric pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI) or inches of mercury (inHg). Pressure decreases at higher elevations and increases as you get closer to sea level. Furthermore, slight changes in barometric pressure significantly impact the weather, so meteorologists use it as a critical indicator for weather predictions.
How does barometric pressure impact weather?
As I mentioned above, changes in barometric pressure can significantly impact the weather. Additionally, it’s important to note that the pressure drives the change in the weather, not the other way around.
Typically a falling barometer means that a storm is approaching. The speed and amount at which it falls can indicate storm strength. Low-pressure systems are usually associated with rain and bad weather, while high-pressure systems can lead to sunshine and clear skies. The barometric pressure will rise as a storm passes and better weather returns.
How does barometric pressure impact crappie?
Before I get into the specifics, it’s important to call out that not everyone agrees on how pressure impacts a fish’s behavior. In addition, many studies show mixed results, so this is just as much art as it is science. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about how pressure might affect crappie.
There are two ways in which crappie sense changes in barometric pressure. The first is via their swim bladder. The swim bladder is a “pouch” that the crappie can inflate or deflate with air to become more or less buoyant. Unfortunately, that pouch is affected by the atmospheric pressure and can cause the crappie to become uncomfortable.
The second way that crappie sense changes is via their lateral line. The lateral line is a line that runs the length of the crappie’s body and is a sensitive organ used to detect vibrations or movement in the water. This lateral line can also detect changes in barometric pressure.
Fishing For Crappie During a Falling Barometer
Barometric pressure dropping is an ideal scenario to catch a boat-load of crappie, especially if it’s during the pre-spawn season. It’s also an indicator of an incoming storm, so it’s essential to fish efficiently.
Changes in pressure cause the crappie to move locations. They also become much more aggressive. The combination of those two things means it’s easier for you to catch them in numbers!
During the pre-spawn, you can target transition areas that crappie use to move between deep water and spawning flats. Things like ledges near the main channel and main lake points are key areas to hone in on.
When you are targetting aggressive crappie that are on the move, I always suggest using a moving bait. You want to cover water as quickly as possible until you find schools of crappie that you can pick apart. Throwing a crankbait or rooster tail will allow you to move fast.
Fishing for Crappie During A Rising Barometer
You usually encounter a rising barometer in a post-front situation. The storm has passed, the weather is improving, and the crappie are on the move again.
This situation is similar to a falling barometer, although the fish may not be as aggressive. Still, this is a solid time to catch crappie.
Because the fish are moving, you will want to check your transition areas again. Channel swings and shallow cover are always good bets to hold crappie.
High-pressure systems usually bring hot weather and bluebird skies, which are some of the most challenging conditions to fish in.
Crappie are going to go into summer-like patterns during high-pressure systems. That means that you are most likely going to find them deep. Deep brush piles are a great place to look, but it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll bite once you find them. You will need to try various lures and presentations to try and entice a bite. A drop shot is a particularly effective rig during these scenarios. Use a light rod and reel and target deep humps or islands.
Crappie will also locate structures like bridge pilings and shade during high-pressure systems, which can be good options to check. Vertical jigging can be effective on these pilings.
Low-pressure storms bring terrible weather and also cause crappie to not be as active as a rising or falling barometer.
Similar to during high-pressure, crappie will most likely head to deep waters to be more comfortable. However, they may also be suspended in the water column, making for some challenging fishing.
This is also a time when fish will not want to bite, so you may be better off waiting for the storm to pass and the rising pressure.
What Other Weather Factors Affect Crappie Fishing?
Air temperature has a huge impact on crappie fishing. This is most notable in the different seasons during the year, where particular patterns can be relied on to find fish consistently.
Generally speaking, extreme temperatures in either direction will be more difficult to fish in than moderate ones.
Water temperature is another one of the most important factors in crappie fishing.
During the spring, water temperatures drive crappie to spawn and subsequently into the shallow flats. During summer, the warm water temperatures cause crappie to move deeper for more highly oxygenated water.
Obviously, there is a close relationship between air temperature and water temperature, and as such, they follow similar patterns throughout the year.
I talked a lot about how barometric pressure impacts the weather, but it’s important to note that wind plays a large part in that equation.
Wind also impacts lake clarity. High winds can churn up soot and sediment from the lake bottom, making visibility poor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better to fish when the barometric pressure is high or low?
Neither. It is best to fish when the barometric pressure is falling. Rising pressure can also be an effective time to fish, although crappie are slightly less aggressive than during a falling barometer.
What weather is best for crappie?
The best weather is typically pre-front, meaning before an incoming storm. This is when you will have a falling barometer, and crappie will be most active.
Does rain affect crappie fishing?
Yes, it does. Rain is accompanied by low pressure and can cause crappie to find deeper waters and become more challenging to catch. It’s certainly not impossible to catch crappie during the rain, but know that you may need to work a bit harder for them.
Do crappie bite on cloudy days?
Yes, cloudy days can be great for crappie fishing. The low sunlight can make crappie feel more comfortable and thus more active. In addition, if the clouds indicate an incoming storm, you will most likely have a falling barometer, which is excellent for fishing.
Wrapping Up on Barometric Pressure
Barometric pressure should be another factor you consider when fishing for crappie. It can help you identify where to find crappie and what lures and presentations you should use.
Remember that not everyone agrees on the impacts of barometric pressure on fish, but nonetheless, it can help you hone in on successful patterns.
Ultimately, I hope this article helps you put more fish in your boat this year, regardless of air pressure. Tight lines!