7 Reasons Why do Fish Jump Out of the Water

Why do Fish Jump Out of the Water

Have you ever seen the fish jump out of water? At beaches, lakes, rivers, etc.

Have you ever thought about it? You know it very well, Human beings are curious by nature. They want to know it all. So, here are some obvious reasons. But believe me, there are many scientific reasons too.

Some experts in this field (including marine biologists) have researched this topic. They have some convincing answers. Moreover, there are many keen observers of nature. Do you think scientists have been able to gain some knowledge from their fishing trips?

I hope you would be eager to know all those reasons for fish jump out of water.

I am going to list out those reasons for you to feed your curiosity. Let us together try to understand this strange behaviour of jumping fish.

I have also added a bit of my personal opinion as well. So, keep on reading ...



Get our FREE fishing e-book where you will find my PRO Tips!


Reason #1 – To dodge the predators

On our planet earth, there is a basic concept among all the living creatures. The hunter hunts. The predator (like pike) is always on a lookout for prey. The bigger fish eat the smaller fish. All the creatures have an instinct to save themselves from their predators. It is a basic concept of any food chain. If a prey stops protecting itself, the whole food chain will crumble.

Fish are an important part of food chains in marine life. The evolutionary race between the predators and the preys goes on. You need to understand that the fish would do everything to protect itself from their predators. It is a serious business for them.

But this "cat and mouse" chase are not always on.

The predatory fish is not always on a lookout to eat other fish. Usually, the fish try to eat the other fish at a certain time of the day or when they are hungry.

Mostly, the attacks by them are not long-distance chases. They are almost always sudden attacks. They take the element of surprise in their attacks. The prey tries to save itself by their natural reflexes. There is a high chance of survival if they move out of their way well in time. The fish tend to stay in groups, small to very big ones. The school of fish have a group strategy to save them from the predators.

Why do fish jump out of the water - Predators

Reason #2 – To get food

Food is the primary motivator for extraordinary feats and strategies in many creatures. Fish are no exception.

The food here is not inside the water. But it is hanging in the air just above the water surface, or flying around. To eat such food, the fish may employ alternative strategies.

Have you seen bass leaping out of the water to catch dragonflies? Or trout to get crickets or any other insects on the water surface?

The low flying flies are easy targets for them. The most amazing jump goes to the credit of "Monkey fish" found in the Amazon basin. They have a unique ability to jump out of the water to catch their prey. The shape of their mouth has evolved in such a way that they help them easily catch the potential prey. Their prey includes insects, birds, bats, crustaceans etc.

The silver Arowana catches the insects perching on a tree branch or a leaf. The distance could be about a metre above the water surface. You might have seen such footage in the documentaries.

Reason #3 – Debugging or external parasites

Some species of fish jump out of water for no reason. They do so from time to time. Some keen biologists have observed the behaviour and theorised that they do so to get rid of external parasites.

You know that a fish cannot get rid of any pesky parasite by just using its mouth or fins. As a last resort, they jump out of water due to sheer desperation.

So, next time if you observe a fish leaping out of water for no apparent reason, then it must be a debugging process to get rid of unwanted and irritating parasites.

Why do fish jump out of the water - Parasites

Reason #4 – Decrease in oxygen levels

If it is a matter of survival, the instinct can do anything. If the environment has deteriorated, they have no choice but leap out for something. Some of the fish have evolved themselves to look for better living conditions outside water. Yes, you got it right. They are on a lookout for a breathing space – i.e. oxygen.

African sharp-toothed Catfish has evolved her lungs to be able to breathe outside water. This way, they can survive in an environment which is poor in oxygen.

Reason #5 – Procreation

In my opinion, there is a strong reason for fish to move to spawn grounds. Some species of fish attempt spectacular jumps to get to the nurseries.

What an incredible show of strength, speed and stamina! The Pacific salmon species like Coho, Chinook or Sockeye can negotiate their way through impossible waterfalls, for their innate desire to procreate.

Salmon are very famous for their wonderful aerobatics; other fish are also doing the same thing but in a less dramatic way. During springtime, some fish scale a height of nearly 2 metres which by any standards is commendable.

I have another good article about most expensive salmon in the World - read it and learn more about this interesting fist!

Why do Fish Jump Out of the Water - Waterfall

Reason #6 – Force of Life

Do you want to know what my personal opinion is?

You see, some of the fish do not jump out for a specific purpose. It just happens. These fish are full of life. They are in the youth of their health. They are in perfect physical condition. They could be jumping to enjoy life to the fullest, to show it to others or just for fun.

Have you seen some kids playing in the playground? They look full of life and energy. The fish are showing a similar enthusiasm, and the force of life is making the fish jump on its own. The sheer joy of life and well being.

Reason #7 – Romance

In the Gulf of Mexico, certain species of fish get together in big schools. The gathering happens during a particular period of the year. The fish throw themselves in a series of jumps in the air. The male and female fish both jump together. Perhaps they are looking for a perfect mate for some romance.

Scientists observed that these places were like nurseries of certain species. They discovered a lot of young fish feeding themselves near the jump area. When both male and female jump, they do so to indicate that the fish of same species are nearby. The gathering gives rise to a cascading effect of more fish coming to the jump area and starts participating. And the romance begins.

Why do Fish Jump and NO One Can Get a Bite?

As already mentioned, there are numerous reasons why fish jump, and it is often impossible to figure it out.

To trigger a bite, you will have to change your approach and adjust to the given situation. There is no guarantee that you will succeed, but you will definitely increase your chances.

Because anglers often have this problem with carp, I am going to give you a few tips about it. Keep in mind that everything mentioned can also be applied to other fish species.

So, the next time you see fish jumping out of the water, try the following:

Change the fishing technique (to surface fishing)

If the fish are jumping, that means that they are spending time near the surface. Anglers often position their baits on the bottom, or in the middle of a water column. Try to position your bait on the surface.

Carp, and other fish species will occasionally feed on the surface which is full of different insects and other food sources. Some anglers, especially those who fish for trout and similar species, can try fly-fishing or even spinning fishing.

Carp anglers can use a variety of baits suitable for surface fishing. Make sure your bait stands out among other available food sources and carp will sooner or later become interested.

Change the bait (to bread, boilies, etc.)

Carp anglers shouldn’t have a lot of problems when they need to change baits.

Carp can be caught on bread, boilies, corn, pellets, and even dog biscuits. All of these baits are cheap and widely available.

When carp seems uninterested, you can always spice up your baits with some additives.

Try to use surface baits like bread, pop-up boilies or corn. There is an option to combine them too, and many anglers like to use boilies together with corn.

Some baits will be more attractive to carp, and when fish is behaving strange, usual methods won’t work. You will have to change and try to see what will attract them. Variety is the key.

And don’t forget prebaiting, especially when it comes to carp fishing. You can even try to do it in a few different locations on the same lake/pond, and see where will they go.

If you are waiting for catfish you can also try some of these best catfish baits.

Why do fish jump out of the water - Boilies

Change the rig (to “zig-rig”)

Choosing the right rig can present a difference between success and failure.

Try with a zig-rig, which will enable you to precisely position the bait at a desired location. As you already figured out from these tips, changes are necessary, and the zig-rig will do just that.

Basically, the zig-rig can be observed as a suspended floater. It is a long hooklink with a buoyant bait. You can either use baits that are already buoyant, like pop-ups, or you can add a small piece of buoyant foam to keep some other bait up.

Good thing about zig-rigs is that you can precisely adjust at which depth you want to present the bait. Mostly, anglers use it to fish in the middle of a water column, but you can easily position it a bit higher, to make to closer to jumping carp.

Change the location (be mobile)

Every angler knows where to find carp in normal conditions, but what to do when carp is behaving crazy and jumping around?

Try to change the location. Be mobile. If you see that there is no action in your spot, take the gear and go somewhere else. Every body of water has at least a few good locations. If the fish is behaving like this, you can even try places where you wouldn’t usually go.

Usual shelters and hiding places, like underwater structures and sunken trees are not the places you should search for when the fish is obviously out of them.

For those fishing from a boat, this is very easy to do. Go across the lake, especially if the water is clear, and observe the fish, before you decide where to catch.

Why do fish jump out of the water - Location

Enjoy the experience (smile)

Sometimes fish simply wont bite. If you tried everything, and there was not a single bite, stay positive.

Trying everything gave you valuable experience, especially if you are a beginner.

Try to enjoy the day outside, both alone or with your fellow anglers. Fishing is more than just catching fish after fish.

At least, you will learn which methods DO NOT work in a given situation.

Jumping Fish in Slow Motion - Amazing VIDEO

Here we are sharing with you a small video of jumping fish in slow motion, and we have tried to understand one of the basic reasons.

Let us watch this amazing video and try to decipher this peculiar behaviour of the fish.

About the Jumping FISH Video:

Amazing jumping fish from South America called the Erawan.

The fish in the video are juvenile fish which can jump out of the water to catch the small prey. The adult fish is much bigger than the tank and can catch much bigger prey like birds, bats, snakes etc. Here they are shown catching the small crickets.

These fish have evolved, and their mouth opens like a drawbridge. The bubbles generated are very big. The fins in their body have evolved in such a way that they help in leaping out of the water to catch the prey with quick reflexes. It all happens in a matter of seconds.

We have shown the action in slow motion to make you understand the dynamics behind their spectacular jumps.

FAQs about Jumping Fish Out of the Water

Here I'll answer some of the most commonly asked questions about jumping fish out of the water:

What Types of Fish are Known for Jumping out of the Water?

There are many types of fish that are known for jumping out of the water, including trout, salmon, tarpon, and carp. Some of these fish are known for their acrobatic displays when caught on a fishing line, while others jump out of the water as a means of catching prey or avoiding predators. For example, tarpon are known for their impressive jumps when hooked on a fishing line, while salmon are known to jump up waterfalls during their migration.

Is There a Specific Time of Day When Fish are More Likely to Jump out of the Water?

Fish can jump out of the water at any time of the day, but they may be more active during certain times depending on their species and habitat. For example, some species of fish are more active at dawn or dusk, while others may be more active during the day or night. Factors like water temperature, light levels, and the availability of food can all influence when fish are most likely to jump out of the water.

Can Humans Train Fish to Jump out of the Water on Command?

Yes, it is possible for humans to train fish to jump out of the water on command using positive reinforcement techniques. Some trainers use a target or a visual cue to teach fish to jump out of the water, while others use food rewards to encourage the behavior. However, it is important to note that this type of training should only be done by experienced professionals, as it can be stressful and potentially harmful to the fish if done improperly.

Why do fish jump out of the water - Trained


You have seen the logic for the fish jump out of water.

Why do fish jump? Are jumping fish doing it for the sake of it, or are there any logical reasons. We have tried to give reasons based on observations. Scientific explanations do not back all these reasons. Some of them may be just guessing work.

We gain more and more knowledge by scientific observations and by using tools of science. But we need to do a lot of work in this field. The behaviour of many species is still mysterious to us. At this juncture, we can make calculated guesswork and reach to some conclusion. We need to do a lot of work to back above claims with research and scientific explanations.

Till then let us enjoy the splendid behaviour of the fish.

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

Affiliate Disclaimer:

Slo-fishing is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. We also participates in eBay Partner Network, FishingBooker, ClickBank and Teespring affiliate programs. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.