The best days to go fishing: when it’s cold?

Andy Whitcomb

Cooling water temperatures can make autumn fishing great, but also a little tricky as the fish move to different locations and feed the mood. But cold water is inevitable. Winter is just around the corner, if not in some places. As soon as the water temperature drops into the 50s or below, the fish species react differently, but settle in their winter bite, which can be surprisingly hot.

For example, Pennsylvania’s famous Steelhead Alley streams rub shoulders in many places right now. We won’t be doing another 2 hour hike up there until a serious cold snap eases the heavy fishing pressures. The bite resulting from the fewer wading anglers who see fish on the banks will more than make up for a steelhead’s slight drop in metabolism.

For some species, the techniques change in cold water. Largemouth bass anglers may switch to finer baits, such as. The jerkbait with a long pause between twitches gets more “play time” even in cold water, as the bass may be suspended in the middle of the water column.

But for other species, the same techniques will continue to produce in cold water if you slow it down just a little. Pikeperch, suckers and the hybrid “Saugeye” still cannot withstand a stencil with a minnow that knocks stones on the ground. And before calm water begins to freeze, the pike hits spinner baits and spoons that are still slowly found.

I am not a fan of the cold. In fact, you could say that when I scrape off the truck’s windshield, I’m pretty grumpy. But the consistency of the cold water bite and the resulting frequent good fishing days usually put a smile on my trembling, cracked face. What reminds me, be sure to wear your life jacket to protect yourself from the dangers of hypothermia.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed out dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida but raised on the banks of farm ponds in Oklahoma, he now hunts pike, small bass and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fishery research technician at OSU, in the US state of Iowa and in the US state of Michigan.