Rockport 1/31 Let's talk barometric pressure - 2CoolFishing
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Old 02-01-2019, 01:54 AM   #1
pocjetty
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Rockport 1/31 Let's talk barometric pressure

Weather: Overcast, steady drizzling rain (see pic below), wind 12-15 mph from the north, barometric pressure 1020 millibars

The last front hit like a hammer. The wind went from light and variable to nearly 40 mph in a matter of a couple of minutes. It blew like crazy for a day and a half, but today it was down a little. I went to a winter spot that I like when the north wind is blowing, but there was nothing happening. I moved to an area with the wind blowing across the end of a shell point. More nothing.

The conventional wisdom says that it was too soon after the front hit, and the high barometric pressure had given the fish "lockjaw". Time to go home and catch up on some chores around the house. But I had a hunch about a third spot. To get to these fish, I had to wade out as far as I could without filling my waders, then cast directly into the wind just as far as I could. Once I located them, I was getting bit on every cast. The bite was light, but the fish were pretty feisty once hooked. I stayed about 10 minutes too long, because the drizzle turned to rain and I got soaked.

I've read a lot of articles about barometric pressure over the years, saying that the fish get "lockjaw" when the pressure is high. I think that pressure has some effect, but I've always believed that there are a lot of other things going on when a front hits, and it's just not that simple. Fish are eating machines, and I believe that if you present them with easy calories, they will almost always take a bite. The problem is finding them.

So why were the first two winter spots so dead? I think that when a front hits as hard as this one, and sends the barometer up in such a hurry, the fish instinctively scurry for deeper water because they don't know how cold it's going to get. I was confident that if there were fish in those two spots, they would have told me.

I picked the last spot because it has some deep shell, and is a short distance from deep open bay. My thought was that the fish would hang there, but be able to scoot out to deeper water if the temperature dropped too much.

The barometric pressure was a little less today than at the peak of the cold front, but it was still up at 1020 millibars. For fishing purposes, most people consider that to be high. Two days after a weaker front, I think my first two spots would have produced.

The point to all of this is that the fish definitely didn't have lockjaw. The bite was actually pretty fast, once I found where they were sitting. You could argue that the barometer had dropped from its peak, but it hadn't fallen much. I would have had to go out in a 30 mph wind to find it any higher.

I think pressure is part of the picture, but I think it affects location more than completely cutting off the bite. You can't catch them if they aren't there. And you can't catch them in your living room.
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Old 02-01-2019, 06:04 AM   #2
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So true. Great report as usual. Keep em comin.
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Old 02-01-2019, 07:35 AM   #3
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agreed. sometimes conventional wisdom needs an unconventional re-thinkin'. don't even get me started on the whole full moon thing
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Old 02-01-2019, 08:45 AM   #4
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Nice post Pocjetty. Thought you geared up with all Sims gear, no wading Jacket? Tight lines, hope to see you in RP soon.
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Old 02-01-2019, 09:10 AM   #5
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I have had several similar trips this winter but I have a little different theory on why, just my personal opinion. Scattered fish tend to be more selective on feeding, may wait on a good solarlunar period or weather conditions. However when you find concentrated groups of fish they tend to get competitive and have to feed when they get the opportunity, regardless of conditions. Unfortunately, when it comes to trout the tight groups are usually small to medium trout with the occasional great fortune to stumble on a school of large trout. Think of redfish behavior when you are sight casting to singles vs schools. Now the trick is being able to locate concentrated fish on a regular basis.
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Old 02-01-2019, 09:21 AM   #6
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Great post as always!
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Old 02-01-2019, 09:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haynie21T View Post
Nice post Pocjetty. Thought you geared up with all Sims gear, no wading Jacket? Tight lines, hope to see you in RP soon.


That's what happens when you don't bother to look at the weather report. I didn't mind the light drizzle when I started, and from the looks of things I really thought it was going to clear, rather than get worse. Then I was catching fish, and you know how that is. Total denial, as long as that pole is bending.

The weather has really been squirrely down here in the last day. I expected it the wind to drop on the tail end of that front, but keep coming from the north. Yesterday afternoon, it popped out of the east and started blowing a good 30 mph. Now it's light but back out of the north - just like it should be the third day after the front. "We now return you to your post cold front weather, already in progress."
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Old 02-01-2019, 10:13 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Skifffer View Post
I have had several similar trips this winter but I have a little different theory on why, just my personal opinion. Scattered fish tend to be more selective on feeding, may wait on a good solarlunar period or weather conditions. However when you find concentrated groups of fish they tend to get competitive and have to feed when they get the opportunity, regardless of conditions. Unfortunately, when it comes to trout the tight groups are usually small to medium trout with the occasional great fortune to stumble on a school of large trout. Think of redfish behavior when you are sight casting to singles vs schools. Now the trick is being able to locate concentrated fish on a regular basis.

Well that's the age old debate. Are they not there, or are they down there and just not biting? Both of those things behave pretty much the same from the angler's perspective. My only beef with that is that when these strong fronts hit, the bait mostly abandons the shallow water, too. Find a place where some bait is hunkered down, and the fish are usually pretty cooperative there.

I totally agree about small-ish fish competing and kicking the bite into high gear. But that sort of flies in the face of the theories that the high pressure squeezes their swim bladders and makes them so uncomfortable that they just sit there. At the very least, it says that they can get over their discomfort for a good meal.

I'm not arguing with you, though. For me, some of it may be like how a good hitter in baseball has to believe that he can hit any pitch you throw. I have to believe that if there are fish there, I can get them to bite. It may not be totally true, but you have to step up to the plate with confidence.
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Old 02-01-2019, 10:55 AM   #9
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Thanks for the report!

Off topic- what's the water level looking like?
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Old 02-01-2019, 11:01 AM   #10
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1020 isn't horribly high, but yeah, deeper is key.
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