What is a Good Barometric Pressure for Ice Fishing?

Did you know barometric pressure can affect the activity levels of fish while ice fishing? 

This phenomenon has been known for decades, and researchers have been monitoring its effect since at least the 1960s.

Now barometric pressure is only one factor that can affect fish behavior. Research has proven that some of the other factors affecting fish behavior are the phase of the moon, wind speed, and water temperature.

One of the most famous studies on how barometric pressure affects fish was done in a glacial lake in South Dakota. The researchers monitored Black Crappies in Brant Lake. They were able to monitor the vertical migration (where the fish were compared to the surface and lake floor) of these fish. They identified 7 environmental factors that could affect fish movement; water temperature, Secchi disk transparency, sky cover, wind direction, wind speed, barometric pressure, and precipitation. Of all of these, only barometric pressure was shown to influence fish movement. 

It is not entirely known why barometric pressure influences fish movement. But one theory is that pressure affects a fish’s bladder, which in turn affects the stomach of the fish’s bladder. The fish then adapts to the change in pressure by moving up or down in the water.

Does Barometric Pressure Affect Ice Fishing?

Regardless of whether there is ice covering a body of water, barometric pressure will still have an effect on the water. Barometric pressure exerts a force on the surface of the ice and that itself will cause a change to the water and fish activity.

What is a Good Barometric Pressure for Ice Fishing?

There hasn’t been definitive research on what the right barometric pressure is for ice fishing.

But there are a few rules of thumb.

First, fish tend to move more when the pressure is rapidly changing.

Second, it is believed that lower pressure will bring fish closer to the surface. So depending on the type of fish you are after this might be a good or bad thing.

Finally, it is believed that higher pressure will cause fish to feel “full” and won’t bite as much, whereas lower pressure will kick in an instinct in the fish to seek out food.

Low pressure is usually associated with an incoming storm. So if a storm is coming in and the barometric pressure is expected to fall expect you will find fish closer to the surface and potentially hungrier.


Keep in mind that barometric pressure is only one thing that could affect fish activity, but there have been scientific studies that have proven that fish react to barometric pressure.


  • Christopher S. Guy, Robert M. Neumann & David W. Willis (1992) Movement Patterns of Adult Black Crappie, Pomoxis nigromaculatus, in Brant Lake, South Dakota, Journal of Freshwater Ecology

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