Water temp question

#1
I'm new to targeting lakes as a primary focus this year, and was wondering something about the water temps.

At what point (temp range) is it "prime" for targeting fish in lakes?

I know you can catch them year-round, but what is the optimal temp, before they starting heading for deeper water, and don't come towards the surface because it's too warm?
 

Jeff Dodd

Active Member
#2
I turn my attention to the saltwater during the heat of summer to give the trout a break, but the last couple of years I have fished carp when the lake felt like bath water. During my evening carp fishing I've noticed trout cruising the surface taking flies and even nudging floating cattails.

Fish in in bathwater for trout is not interesting to me but at least a few fish were active in the hot tub.
 
#5
So is there a temp at which the fishing really slows down/becomes lethal to the fish?

I know that the temps at the surface can be really bad for the fish, but (or about what) temps does it become not productive/lethal?
 

GAT

Dumbfounded
#6
If the water temp hits 70 and above, that is bad news for a trout if you catch one. The rule of thumb is to avoid fishing for trout when the temps reach 70.
 

Peyton00

Active Member
#8
If a lake is planted, i dont care what the temps get to, they are paid for and i dont see a reason to stop fishing for planted fish due to a water temp issue.

I am going to bring a thermometer and attach it to my anchor and check the temps at 50+ ft deep and compare to surface temp next time i fish a lake.
 
#9
I wonder if most people think about it much. It may be in the 50's 10 ft down (on deeper lakes) but that last foot or two can be pretty warm I supose.

Anyway, thanks for the input guys.
 

GAT

Dumbfounded
#10
The temperature is indeed most likely much different at great depths than near the surface. However, when you hook a trout it ends up fighting you in the warmer zone and that is where the effects of warm water comes into play.

As Peyton mentioned, this is only a concern if you're fishing for wild trout ... or a private lake.

Most pay to play private lakes close down during the hot months of summer so you don't end up killing their trout.
 
#11
If a lake is planted, i dont care what the temps get to, they are paid for and i dont see a reason to stop fishing for planted fish due to a water temp issue.

I am going to bring a thermometer and attach it to my anchor and check the temps at 50+ ft deep and compare to surface temp next time i fish a lake.

I remember as a kid diving off of my friends boat, and when I got past the first 2 feet of the warmer surface water... my nuts shrunk down to the size of BB's. So yeah, there's a big difference in water temps just below the surface. :eek:
 
#13
The lakes I fish, I won't worry about the death rate. The fish get plants all the time.

That being said, I don't catch anything anyway, so I don't have to worry about it. :D
 

Irafly

Indi "Ira" Jones
#14
As mentioned before the surface of a lake versus the depths of a lake are two completely different beasts. If you are using a 0 weight for 18" fish then yeah maybe you will be fighting them too long in the surface water temps above 70 degrees. The only studies I have found that equate mortality rates to water temperatures, have all been done in rivers where the temps tend to stay consistent throughout the system. The only study I found that really showed mortality after hooking actually kept the fish in an isolated area so they could study the effects. The fish were never able to try to find colder waters with higher levels of oxygen. The studies also showed that the amount of time it took to reach a mortal stage in warmer waters is negligible in comparison to the amount of time that you would actually fight a fish. With all that said though for those of you who choose to not fish for trout in stillwaters once the temps hit a certain zone, I do not be grudge you that.

Now to the original question at hand. In most cases (depending on species) trout tend to be most active when water temps are around 55 to 65 degrees, but again this temperature range can exist in a lake even though the surface temp is saying 70 degrees or 50 degrees for that matter. So fish can and will be active in lakes year round. In fact my best days at Pass have happened in December with over 50 fish days, when fish tend to concentrate more to take advantage of a food source that can't be found all over a lake.

One of the other things that really can effect the activity of the fish as far as temps is light penetration (and duration) coupled with wind or clouds. These things together can cause bug hatches and the feeling of a safe environment for the fish to take advantage of the bounty. For example there have been multiple times where there is obvious bug activity and active fish on a cloudy or windy day that suddenly diminishes with a flat calm surface or the sun breaking through the clouds.

Ultimately, there is no magic bullet when it comes to temperature. Hope this helps.
 
#15
Great info Ira, thanks!

Now, onto another (similar) question: When speaking of light penetration, does a really sunny day tend to push fish down because of the sun? Meaning - since they don't have eyelids, and can't squint, does the sun bother fish in a lake more than say a river in your opinion?