Does Wind Direction Affect Ice Fishing ?

It is difficult to sit for Ice Fishing on a windy day. The chilly breeze makes you feel cold and uncomfortable. You may want to go away and skip your ice fishing trip. At the same time, you may wonder if the fish below the ice gets influenced by the wind on top. It is a question that experienced anglers also fail to answer.

Wind and wind direction results in changing atmospheric pressure. This change in atmospheric pressure results in a change of pressure on the ice surface and thereby on the water beneath it. Since this pressure difference is felt by the fish in the water, wind and wind direction do affect ice fishing. Pressure changes due to fresh snow on ice also lead to a similar effect.

Local climate does play an important factor during ice fishing. It results in less or more catch than usual. If you are planning to go on ice fishing, this article will tell you how wind direction or changing air pressure can affect your fishing trip. Read on to find more.

Wind direction and fishing

Winds are caused due to air pressure differences. When there is low pressure at a place, air from surrounding areas rushes in to balance this pressure difference. This low pressure is created due to solar heating. When air at a particular location gets heated, it becomes lightweight or rarified and rises to the upper layers of the atmosphere. This creates avoid below or lower air pressure.

There is an old fishing rhyme:

Wind from the east, fish bite the least;

Wind from the west, the fish bite the best;

Wind from the north, few sailors set forth;

Wind from the south blows bait in their mouth.

Though there is no scientific proof of this rhyme, it serves as a good indicator for fishermen in the US. For example: when the east wind blows, there is a rapid decline in the water temperature. This is due to cold conditions on the mainland. In other words, the fish is difficult to catch.

On the other hand, west winds blow just before a storm. According to observations, fish in such conditions take the maximum bite. When there are north winds, fishermen hardly go out and south winds indicate a pleasant climate for both fish and fishermen.

Air pressure and ice fishing


Winds are caused due to air pressures. So it is better to understand the effects of air pressure on ice fishing. When there is a change in air pressure, the ice cover of a frozen water body also feels this change. This triggers a change in pressure in the water beneath the ice.

Fish is extremely sensitive to changes in water pressure. They have air bladders which they use to maintain neutral buoyancy when in water. Hence they can feel any changes in water pressure that is affected due to changes in the air pressure or the winds blowing on top.

Air pressure is measured by barometers. There are several types of barometers. The traditional barometers have a mercury column that responds to changing air pressures. The air pressure is measured in ‘inHg’ or inches of mercury in the barometer’s mercury column. The higher this value, the more the atmospheric pressure.

As per observation, the air pressure has been related to ice fishing outcomes in the following way:

High air pressure

When the air pressure is over 30.50 inHg, the fish is reported to have medium feeding activity. However, other factors may also kick in.

Medium air pressure

When the air pressure is between 29.70 inHg to 30.50 inHg, the fish have fair feeding activity. The feeding activity is lesser than when the air pressure is medium.

Low air pressure

When the air pressure is between 29.00 inHg to 29.70 inHg, the fish has medium feeding at the beginning which reduces with passing time.

Very low pressure

When the air pressure is under 29.00 inHg, the feeding is low and fish is hard to catch.

Pressure reducing quickly and low pressure is approaching

The fish have a very high feeding rate and the catch is good.

Pressure increasing quickly and high pressure are approaching

The fish have low feeding activity and it is hard to catch fish.

So you can see that the best time for ice fishing is when the pressure is falling rapidly. The fish bite the most and you get a good catch. So aim to do ice fishing during these periods.

Tips for ice fishing when pressure is reducing rapidly


You may want to have a maximum catch and thereby aim to fish when the pressures are dropping rapidly. If that is the case, here are our pro tips to help you in maximizing your catch:

  • Check the local weather report: it is a good idea to check the local weather report before you go out ice fishing. You can scan the local television channels or check on the internet. The local fishing clubs also provide accurate information on the matter.
  • Get proper equipment: Carry with you all the necessary equipment for a good ice fishing harvest. Usually, these falling air pressure windows are small. So be ready for a bumper catch in a small time window.
  • Be prepared for foul weather: You will need to be prepared for rough weather. When the air pressures are dropping rapidly, the winds will be strong and the visibility will be poor. It will be colder than usual and not many people will be out there.
  • Don’t take a risk: If the local met department forecasts a very rough day, weigh your odds. Defer your ice fishing trip if you feel the need for doing so. Having a good catch is one thing; falling prey to rough weather is another.

To sum it up


Wind and wind direction affect the air pressure which in turn modulates the ice fishing catch. As you understood, falling air pressures lead to the best ice fishing catch. At the same time, you need to be prepared for these small-time windows and make the most of it.

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