Fishing During The Winter – Everything You Need To Know

Fishing In Winter – Everything You Need to Know for Winter Fishing

Most people tend to fish during the warmer months instead of in winter, but fishing in the cold season has its own charm.

Cold is no excuse to store away your fishing gear during the winter months!

Any serious angler should consider having a go at winter fishing.

In this short guide, we will go through everything you need to know about fishing in winter, its advantages, tips, and tricks to help you get more success with your catch as well as discuss some common questions related to the topic.

Read on to know more about winter fishing.

Winter Fishing Advantages

fishing in the snow

Fishing in the colder months brings with it its own set of advantages. Here we will take you through the most major ones.

Less Competition

This is the biggest, as well as the most obvious, advantage of fishing in winter.

Competition thins out in the winter as many casual fishers don’t fancy spending hours outside in the cold.

With way fewer people fishing, you have the fishing spot pretty much all to yourself.

This significantly increases your chances of landing a large catch automatically.

It’s a Different Experience

Fishing in winter requires you to adopt a different fishing strategy.

The sessions are more slower-paced as fish have less energy in winter.

However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t land a bite; it just means that you have to adapt your fishing technique to the new challenge.

You also have to constantly confront the cold throughout your session, but at the end of the day, there is no comparing the feeling of catching a large perch and cooking it over a hot stove while in winter.

Quality Catch

man with catched pike

In winter fishing, you trade quantity for quality.

While it is true that in winter months, it can be harder to hook a fish, it is also true that your chances of capturing a prized specimen are far higher.

As mentioned before, competition is less, and once you do land a bite, the catch is almost guaranteed as the fish does not have enough fighting power in winter.

Plus, winter presents the perfect opportunity to diversify your catch.

With many warmth-loving species shutting down for the winter, it is your chance to hook games like Northern Pike and Perch that otherwise would be more difficult to catch during the warmer months due to competition from other anglers.

Winter Fishing Tips and Tricks

Now that we have gotten you a bit more interested in winter fishing, it’s time to provide some useful tips and tricks to make your winter fishing session even more enjoyable.

Location Matters

location for winter fishing

Location! Location! Location!

We cannot stress this enough. Fish tend to lump together during the winter months and are not as active in terms of swimming.

Regardless of the species you are trying to target, choosing the right fishing spot is essential for a successful fishing trip.

There are many great resources available that can properly instruct you on how to choose the right fishing spot during winter-specific to your location and weather.

But as a rule of thumb, unless you know what you are doing, you should avoid waters with high current during winter.

Time the Weather

In many parts of the United States, winter weather can certainly be quite volatile.

The last thing you would want is to gear up and head off, only to come back to your hut freezing because of an unexpected blizzard or rain.

Keep an eye on the forecast and plan your fishing trip around it.

For fishing in winter, the optimal weather conditions are when the sky is clear and sunny and before a cold weather front has passed over.

Choose the Right Gear

fly fishing rod in the snow

If you don’t properly prepare for your winter fishing trip, not only will you be met with a lot of headaches along the way, but you also run the risk of seriously damaging your fishing gear.

For starters, you need to get your reels tuned up to prevent them from getting stiff due to the chilly weather.

Many fishing supply shops perform this service for cheap, so if you don’t know how to disassemble, clean, and lubricate your reels properly, you can have the shop keeper do it for you.

Second, it is vital to condition your lines to prevent them from twisting and tangling due to the cold.

Additionally, since winter months tend to be wetter and humid, it is important to bring along a dry back to store your fishing gear when not in use.

Of course, your own comfort and safety are the most important.

Pack in enough layers to ensure that you stay warm regardless of the changing weather.

The risk of frostbite and hypothermia can be very real, and not only should you protect yourself through insulation but also make sure you have proper waterproofing around your body.

Waders, coveralls, gloves, a thick hat, and warm socks are some of the essentials of proper winter fishing attire.

If the risk of getting wet is particularly high, there are also waterproofing sprays available on the market that will make your winter clothes more hydrophobic and grant you additional protection.

Related Questions

What Is the Best Bait for Winter Fishing?

Both fish and their prey items move more slowly through the waters during the colder months to conserve energy.

If you try using a standard lure, you will unlikely to get a bite as its quick movements would look unnatural.

Instead, live bait such as worms, minnows, and shads would be a better option.

They would react to the cold water and be far more tempting to hungry fishes.

Winter Lure Ideas

lure for winter

In case you insist on using lures instead of live bait, here are some ideas to make them more enticing to the fish.

First up, use lures with either hair or features as they are more likely to mimic natural movements in the water. Secord, stick to smaller sizes.

As mentioned many times in the article, fish move more sluggishly through the water in winter and, thus, won’t be so quick to go after the big stuff.

Third, stick with lure colors that are more natural-looking and fit in with the winter environment.

Lastly, since a fish’s senses also take a hit in cold conditions, you have to make sure the lure is bright and shiny enough to be spotted easily.

According to some seasoned fishers, soaking your bait in spices, salt, or alcohol can also do wonders.

This is because the fish may be attracted to the smell of it or taste the waters, finding it to be appealing.

Where Do Fish Go in Winter?

During the winter, when the temperatures are lower, fish to descend to the bottom of the streams and lakes where the water is warmer.

As the fish’s energy levels are lower, you are likely to find them schooled up in areas of slow-moving pockets of water away from the rapid currents. However, this is the norm but not a rule.

Some fish species such as trout actually prefer colder waters, and you may find them wading through fast-moving streams during the colder months while other fish hunker down for the season.

What Fish Are Most Active in Winter?

catched pike in the snow

As stated in the previous answer, not all fish become relatively inactive as the temperature drops.

We have already mentioned trout, but there is plenty of other game fish that remain active in winter months.

Perch remain aggressive biters even when the temperatures are freezing.

They can be found at the bottom of the lake basins, foraging in the mud for any food item.

Use a small ice jig with live bait such as bloodworms, and you can expect an easy catch.

Another great catch during the winter is the Northern pike.

These mean fish are perfectly adapted to cold conditions and are willing to attack even artificial bait in the wintertime.

They are not endangered and taste very delicious, so don’t feel bad about taking this angry biter home for dinner.

Another fish species that thrives in cold conditions is the channel catfish.

They are very aggressive feeders, even in colder seasons, and unlike many other fishes, they will put up a good fight even when the mercury is below freezing.

Can You Fish for Bass in the Winter?

Bass is a warmth-loving fish that is most active during the summertime.

In winter, it tends to sink down to the bottom of the lake or river and do pretty much nothing.

However, this doesn’t mean that catching bass is impossible in winter.

Bass still need to feed from time to time, and it is at their feeding time that you have your chance to catch them.

This window of opportunity is usually the warmest parts of the day, at noon.

If you found this guide helpful, do consider sharing with other fishing enthusiasts you know who may find the information here useful.

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Roy Ericson

Roy Ericson started fishing when he was just a boy, like many of us did. He spent far too much time on the piers not being able to catch anything, until his uncle brought him deep sea fishing, out to the lakes of Michigan, where he lived, and to the various ponds in neighboring states. He’s been all over, caught over 400 different species of fish, and doesn’t believe you should embellish your stories. He’s just here to teach you about his absolute favorite thing in the world: fishing.