Best Temperature for Fishing [Fish Chart + Explanation]

Best Temperature for Fishing

Fishing is affected by many factors, including weather, time of day, season, moon phase, tides, currents, and other natural patterns. And among those, one of the most important is the temperature.

Of course, I’m talking about water temperature, not the air. This is also connected to change of seasons, and daytime too.

The best temperature for fishing depends on a specific fish species. Walleye, salmon and trout love colder water, while catfish, bluegill and bass love warmer. There is no one single temperature that suits them all. But generally, when the water is around 60-70 F, many of the species can be caught.

Keep in mind that even the same species can have slight variations in activity related to temperature, depending on the area where you live in.

Also, smaller bodies of water can change temperature much faster than the large ones, so you may need to check the temperature regularly. I will explain how to do that too.

Here I will tell you more about how water temperature affects fish behaviour and give you optimum temperatures for many popular fish species.



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Does Water Temperature Affect Fishing? [How?]

Water temperature is something that has a huge effect on fishing. If you observe it through the year, you will see a huge difference in fish behavior. In winter, they tend to be slow and dormant. When spring arrives and temperatures increase, fish start to come to shallower water as it heats up faster, and they start feeding more.

As the spring goes, they start to feed aggressively. Similar thing happens after summer when fish are feeding a lot to prepare for winter. In winter, their metabolic rate, and their ability to digest food reduces. Therefore many species wont bite even the tastiest bait in very cold water.

Warm water usually contains less oxygen, and this is why there are periods during summer when many species go to deeper and colder water, and their activity decreases.

These temperature changes also affect their breeding cycle. When water reaches certain temperature, spawn will start (here you can check "when do carp spawn"). Many fish will be interested in breeding more than feeding, and as an angler, you must recognize these occurrences to avoid disappointment and not to go home empty handed.

Another thing to consider is rapid changes in water temperatures. In general, fish do not like sudden drops or rises in water temperature. If weather patterns cause a temperature to significantly change in a short period, you could expect reduced activity.

The best temperature for fishing depends on a species. Check out the chapter below for details.

Best Temperature for Fishing [Fish Chart + Explanation]

Before we get into details, here is quick fishing water temperature chart.

When you see all temperatures together like this, difference in preferences of certain species is more than obvious. If you are a beginner, you should learn it well.

FISH Best Temperature Possible to Catch
Channel Catfish 70 - 75°F 45 - 85°F
Flathead Catfish 70 - 75°F 45 - 85°F
Blue Catfish 77 - 80°F 45 - 85°F
Bluegill 70 - 75°F 65 - 80°F
Largemouth Bass 65 - 75°F 50 - 85°F
Smallmouth Bass 63 - 68°F 48 - 75°F
Carp 60 - 72°F 47 - 72°F
Perch 63 - 70°F 33 - 70°F
Pike 60 - 67°F 45 - 80°F
Muskie 63 - 67°F 33 - 78°F
Crappie 45 - 70°F 33 - 80°F
Rainbow Trout 50 - 65°F 40 - 70°F
Brook Trout 45 - 65°F 40 - 70°F
Brown Trout 60 - 65°F 40 - 70°F
Cutthrout 39 - 59°F 40 - 70°F
Salmon 40 - 50°F 38 - 65°F
Walleye 40 - 45°F 33 - 75°F

Best Water Temperature for Catfishing

So, lets start with catfish. There are many species of catfish, and they can all withstand a wide range or temperatures. They are the ones that remain active even in waters that are too warm for many other species and can tolerate low amount of oxygen.

However, not all species are completely the same. The best temperature for catfish fishing according to species is:

CHANNEL: Channels are most active when temperature is around 75 degrees. Even slightly below, between 70 and 75, you can expect good fishing conditions.

FLATHEAD: Flatheads bite the best at 70 degrees, or slightly above. They are similar in that way to channels, but from my experience they prefer just a few degrees colder.

BLUE: Blues like the warmest water and are the most active around 77 degrees. In some cases, they will remain very active even in temperatures slightly above 80.

All of them will reduce their activity below 45 or above 85.

Best Water Temperature for Bluegill Fishing

Bluegills like warmer water. Although you can catch them between 65 and 80 degrees easily, the best time is when the water reaches 70 to 75 degrees.

So, the best temperature for bluegill fishing is a small range of just 5 degrees, however that does not mean that you can’t catch them in colder or warmer water.

Best Water Temperature for Bass Fishing

The best temperature for bass fishing slightly varies among bass species.

LARGEMOUTH: These fish can withstand various temperatures, however, the best fishing occurs between 65- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit. Not only their metabolic rate increases in this range, but the baitfish become active too. Fishing is actually possible between 50 and 85 degrees, however, activity reduces.

SMALLMOUTH: The best temperature is a small range between 63 and 68 degrees, however, fishing is actually possible between 48 and 75. Outside of this range their activity reduces a lot. Smallmouth bass have very sensitive metabolism that reacts to temperatures more than many other fish and that is the reason why the best temperature range is so small.

Best Water Temperature for Carp Fishing

Carp also like warmer water, and they become far less active in lower temperatures. Although you can catch them in a wide temperature range, from 47 to 72, the best temperature for carp fishing is in the upper part of that range.

They will bite the best between 60 and 72 degrees.

Best Water Temperature for Perch Fishing

Perch is in a way similar to crappie, and the best temperature for perch fishing is between 63 and 70. They can withstand almost freezing temperatures, and will feed even in colder water than crappie, however, their prime activity requires more warmth.

And when it comes to the limits, their activity reduces below 33 or above 70.

Best Water Temperature for Pike Fishing

The best temperature for pike fishing is mid-60s. Although 65 is the best, anything between 60 and 67 will work very well. If you plan to fish out of this range, you should go when it is colder.

Pike can be caught in winter too, however, temperatures lower that around 45, reduce their activity a lot. Above 80, their activity slows down too, and there is almost no chance that you will catch one.

Best Water Temperature for Muskie Fishing

The best temperature for muskie fishing is similar to previously mentioned pike. Both species are from the same genus of fish and that’s why there are some similarities in their metabolism.

Muskies can be caught anywhere between 33 and 78, however mid 60s are the best. Anything between 63 and 67 makes them bite like crazy.

Best Water Temperature for Crappie Fishing

Crappies are not very demanding when it comes to temperature, and there is a wide range of their prime activity that goes from 45 to 70 degrees, and that is the best temperature for crappie fishing.

When it comes to crappies, you will find people who say that 50-60 range is the best, and some others who will say that they bite better in 60-70 range, however, the reason is that they really bite in various temperatures.

Below 33 you won’t have an easy time, as well as above 80.

Best Water Temperature for Trout Fishing

Trout like cold and clear waters, so it is no wonder that the best temperature for fishing is generally 50-60. There are slight variations among species. Range of activity is larger, from 40 to 70, however, anything above mid 60s can be considered a bit harder fishing conditions.

The best temperature for trout fishing according to species is:

RAINBOW: Rainbows prefer temperature in range from 50 to 65.

BROOK: Usually between 45 and 65 you will have the best fishing conditions.

BROWN: Brown trout bites the best around 65 degrees.

CUTTHROAT: They like a bit colder water, from 39 to 59 degrees.

Best Water Temperature for Salmon Fishing

The best temperature for salmon fishing depends on an area a lot. Salmon in Norway will not behave the same as salmon in Alaska.

When you observe them all, you will get a wide range of temperatures that suit them, and that is mid 40s for Pacific salmon and high 50s for Atlantic salmon.

You can fish for them between 38 and 65 degrees, and as they prefer cold water, if the temperature is higher than 65, you won’t have much success.

Best Water Temperature for Walleye Fishing

The best temperature for walleye fishing is between 40 and 45. They prefer colder water, and that is why winter fishing is very popular when it comes to walleyes.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t catch them in other temperatures, and they will be active anywhere from above 33 to below 75, however, mid of this range is the best.

Best Temperature for Fishing - Walleye Ice Fishing

Best Water Temperature for Saltwater Fishing

When talking about saltwater, things are a bit more complicated. The best temperature for saltwater fishing highly depends on a specie.

In general, there is a much wider temperature range that is good for fishing, saltwater bodies of water are huge and change temperature slowly, and saltwater fish tend to be very resilient.

There are thousands of species across the world, so I will mention juts a few popular ones so that you can see the differences.

Around 80 degrees: Tarpoon, Mahi Mahi, and Blue Marlin

Around 70 degrees: Redfish, Grouper, and Weakfish

Around 60 degrees: Snapper

Around 50 degrees: Winter Flounder

Around 40 degrees: Halibut

These are all optimal temperatures stated above, and there are actually some extreme limits. For example, upper limit for Tarpoon is 104 degrees!

How to Determine Water Temperature for Fishing? [Best Way]

The best temperature for fishing can be determined in various ways. Experienced anglers who have decades of experience in the area simply know it when they see the weather patterns, air temperatures, and just observe the climate. However, you can’t always do that and you don’t always fish in the same places.

So, how to determine water temperature for fishing?

The easiest way to get exact up to date reading in your specific location is to buy a thermometer and measure yourself. There are special fishing thermometers, and you can choose among a variety of affordable products. Some anglers even improvise with a pool thermometer.

Another good way is to install any of the best fishing weather apps and simply read temperatures from the forecast on your phone. However, slight variations when compared to the real temperature are always possible.

Best Temperature for Fishing - Water Thermometer


Choosing the best temperature for fishing varies from one fish species to another. Get to know your fish first in order to successfully catch it.

Although many species have activity periods in large temperature ranges, they all have that “sweet spot” of just a few degrees when they feed so aggressively that there is no way that you will go home empty handed!

Of course, to get the best results, together with water temperature, you should check the weather forecast, and tidal charts if you plan to go saltwater fishing!

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