Understanding water temperature, especially during the colder months of the year, is crucial to being successful. The big mistake that many anglers make is believing that air temperature movement reflects that of the water, when it doesn’t. This is why, during the winter you will see many packing away once it gets to late afternoon and the sun drops.
The air temperature falls quickly and it’s not unusual to see it go from 5C to freezing in no time at all. However, water doesn’t move at the same rate. The temperature may have been 4.4C, for example, and all that happens is that it drops to 4.2C. Yes, it’s down but nowhere near as sharp a fall as the air.
Remember, as anglers it’s all about what’s going on beneath the surface of the water not above it, that counts. In fact, even though the air can get very chilly indeed, if cloud cover comes in during the night the water reading can actually rise.
The reason I know all this is because I use a thermometer, especially during the winter months. It’s a simple device with a one metre lead and within seconds you’ve got a reading to work on.
If you fish one place regularly then the readings are very useful indeed, as you then get not just one stand-alone figure but a series of numbers, which then gives you the big picture. You can see whether temperatures are rising, constant or falling.
In fact, temperature trend is very important. If the reading has been 2C for a week and then it goes to 4C, that’s preferable to 6C when it’s been 10C for a while. Even though the first figure is lower, it’s a rising temperature and that’s the crucial factor.
Putting all that into practice, I left home with snow and sleet coming down and an air temperature just above freezing. Arriving at the canal, although the conditions had improved, nevertheless it was still very cold. However, as I had figured, the water temperature was up. In fact at 5.8C it was beyond my expectations.
Fishing with my Poachers Pocket set-up (check out recent blog entries for rig and bait details) I managed to bank perch, my target species. Not massive fish, and they were certainly sluggish once hooked due to them only just stirring from their slumbers. However they were feeding and that was the point.
Without being switched on to temperatures I could have thought, snow, sleet and freezing conditions, stay at home. Not that I would anyway as I fish whatever is going on but you know what I mean. Understanding water temperature is an important key to fishing in the colder months.