Can You Fish in the Winter? [+ Safety Tips]

Can You Fish in the Winter

Fishing is an amazing outdoor activity that is mostly done when the weather is pleasant and warm, at least by recreational anglers.

You probably know that fish react to temperature changes, and after a very active fall, they go almost dormant during winter. So, can you fish in the winter?

Fishing in winter depends a lot on how cold the winter is in your area, about local rules and regulations, fish species, and your knowledge and willingness to adapt to a bit harder conditions. Although harder, fishing in winter is not impossible.

Some species can be caught year-round, while others will be almost impossible to catch. Check your local species and inform yourself about their behavior.

Besides changes in fishing conditions, anglers must be very cautious and consider their own safety. Accidentally falling in extremely cold water can be very dangerous.

If you want to know more about how to catch fish in cold water or about fish behavior in winter, read the following chapters.



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Are Fish Active in the Winter?

Winter can be very calm and uneventful in the fish world, however, there are some exceptions. First of all, we have to define winter.

It is not merely a season in the calendar. Fish are influenced by the temperature. When that temperature of water falls under a certain number, fish will stop feeding.

In some areas of the world winter is so mild and warm that it barely has in influence on fish, while in some other regions it can be so cold that water is covered with ice for months.

Fish can stay active and feed but they will be slower and less interested. However, some fish will feed even if there is ice. Ice fishing for walleyes is one of the best fishing activities you can do in North America.

In some regions of the world, like some European countries, ice fishing is forbidden in some locations. But, that doesn’t mean that you can`t catch a fish in winter on waters that are not frozen, if the law allows it.

So, the answer to your question is YES, fish are active, but much less than in warmer months.

Can You Fish in the Winter? [Is Good or BAD?]

Can you fish in the winter is a question frequently asked among beginners who do not want to wait until next spring to continue their fishing adventures. And the good thing is that you don’t have to wait, and you can fish in winter!

But, to successfully catch one, you will have to change your approach. From bait selection to the speed of your presentation, everything needs to match the activity and interest of a relatively uninterested fish.

In addition to that, fish won’t be in the same places as they are in warmer seasons. You will have to search for them in warmer parts of the water. I will tell you more about that in the following chapters.

During warm months presenting your baits around sunset and sunrise is the best, however, in winter, those are the coldest hours, so you can actually fish during warmest parts of the day, around midday.

There are some exceptions and ice fishing for species like walleyes can be done during night too. Although winter is not recommended by some anglers, I think it is a great time to test your skills and learn new things.

Can You Fish in the Winter - Ice

What Kind of Fish Can You Catch in the Winter?

I already mentioned ice fishing for walleyes, so I will mention that first. That is a great, although potentially dangerous, activity. When on ice you have to be very careful.

But let’s get back to fish species. Besides walleyes, in such conditions, you can catch other species too, like crappie, perch, bass, carp and northern pike. All of those are very exciting to catch.

Ice coverage is not needed to catch fish, and here are some examples.

Carp fishing in winter can be done if the winter is not too cold, and carp are still partially active. Downsize your baits and there is a chance you will catch one.

Catfish can be caught in deep holes where they congregate during winter. They are slow, but not completely inactive.

Trout can also be caught, even with flies, if the winter conditions are right. Try to fish on warmer winter days. As you can see, many species can be caught, depending on how cold your local winter is.

Can You Fish in the Winter - Carp

How to Catch Fish in (Winter) Cold Water?

Here are some winter fishing tips that can be useful in many winter situations:

Downsize your baits and present your lures slowly. Inactive fish will not chase a lure at high speed. Go for different tastes too. For example, carp loves sweet taste in winter. Catfish will go for cut bait like shad. You can go for live baits too, especially for walleyes. When it comes to lures, make sure that they are highly visible.

• When the water is cold, fish usually go into deeper areas where water temperature can`t change quickly. Catfish is a great example of that. When searching for fish, target the warmest parts of water, like pockets in rivers or parts that are not in shade.

Use lines for cold weather and avoid snapping that can occur with regular lines. Also, make sure that your gear is well maintained and reels clean and oiled. Materials become stiffer in low temperatures and avoiding any malfunctions is crucial.

• You can`t fish if you are cold. Wear warm, windproof, and waterproof clothes in layers, have warm and dependable boots, gloves, hat, and everything you need to stay warm and safe. Bring some extra clothes too if you accidentally get wet.

• Instead of fishing early or late in the day, present your baits from 10am to 3pm. Of course, depending on your region of the world, these times may vary, but the important thing is to present your baits when the Sun is high and when it warms up the water. Those warmest parts of the day will also be the best for you.

And basically, that’s it. Also, always check local rules and regulations about winter fishing, closed season, and other limitations about baits or anything else.

Will Fish Bite in 50-degree (10 Celsius) Weather? [Or Lower?]

I keep mentioning cold water and weather but let’s mention some numbers. So, will fish bite in 50-degree weather?

First of all, fish react to water temperature, not air. So, even if you have a few colder days, if the water is big and deep it will not cool down too much. But, if the water is small or shallow, or low air temperatures stay for a long time, that will definitely have an influence on fish. So, let’s say that water temperature dropped to 50-degrees (10 Celsius).

Most of the fish species will continue feeding, although not as actively as they did on higher temperatures. Catfish for example, will become very slow below 50.

Bass will still feed, but smaller specimens may be less active than larger ones.

Carp will feed too, although low temperatures are not the optimal time for feeding.

Optimal temperature for feeding varies among species, but it is above 50 degrees, so when fishing in colder waters, change your approach and use some tips given in the previous chapter.

Can You Fish in the Winter - 50 degree

Is Winter Fishing Dangerous? [+ Safety Tips]

When thinking about can you fish in the winter the answer depends on how ready you are and how much are you willing to follow some safety precautions.

Winter fishing can be excellent, but it can turn into a nightmare fast!

Falling in cold waters, especially if there is ice, can be deadly. Also, weather can change quickly, and winds and storms can be very dangerous.

Another hidden danger is hypothermia and frostbites, especially on multi-day fishing expeditions. This is why you always have to check the forecast, find a fishing buddy to go with you especially if you are a beginner, and you need to have all the essential equipment to keep warm, hydrated, and safe.

All of this is even more important if fishing on ice. The most important thing to do is to measure the thickness of ice before you step on it. Also, you have to avoid ice fishing holes drilled by others while moving on ice. It is good to have a float suit and a first aid kit with ropes and dry clothes.

I don’t want to scare you; I just want to tell you that nature can be unpredictable, and it is better to be safe than sorry. Well prepared and responsible anglers have nothing to worry about.

How Cold is Too Cold for Fishing? [When to STOP?]

One of the most important winter fishing tips is knowing when to give up. First of all, it is not worth the effort if you are freezing, snow is falling, and winds are blowing 50mph.

But, if talking about temperatures, when water temperatures fall below 40-degrees (ca. 4 Celsius), the majority of the fish will go dormant. In such conditions, no matter how hard you try, you will not get a bite, and it is better to go home and read a good fishing book instead of wasting your time on the water.

Just keep in mind that these temperatures are estimates. In some areas, bass my stop feeding below 50, while in other places it can remain feeding in the mid-40s.

Even species that love cold water like trout will stop their activity below 40. In some rare instances, they can feed in high 30s, but that is the lowest possible and that doesn’t mean worth fishing.

Can You Fish in the Winter - River

What About Winter Saltwater Fishing? [Is it Good?]

Winter saltwater fishing can be great, but same as freshwater, it depends on your local winter conditions, as well as available fish species.

For example, here in Europe, especially in Adriatic, you can engage in some nighttime squid fishing which is a great experience.

Besides that, you can catch redfish, snapper, some shark species and much more, depending on a world region. In colder days, most of the species go into deeper waters, so fishing from the shore may not be as effective as fishing from a boat. Sea bass, European dentex, and similar species are some of those that will move away from the shore.

To successfully catch them, you have to move away from the shore, check the forecast, and choose a good fishing day. You can even check sea tides.

Saltwater species will react to the same baits as you use in summer, however, make sure that they are not too large. Sea fishing is not so different in winter. Use fresh baits or suitable lures and you will have a good day.


Can you fish in the winter depends a lot on your location and about you too. Although harder, winter fishing is not impossible and can be very fun!

Adapt to the conditions, slow down your presentations, and think about time of the day. If you plan well, you may end up pleasantly surprised!

No matter where you go to fish in winter, think about your safety and make sure that you are careful!

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