The Right Water Temperature For Fishing

Written by Larry Whiteley
The Right Water Temperature For Each Fish

March days tease us and then remind us that winter is still around though growing weak. Spring will win the tug-of-war though, and we’ll be out there fishing.

One of the most important things for you to know, if you want to catch fish, is the water temperature. Fish become more active and are more likely to take a properly presented bait when the water temperature is in the range they prefer. That range is also different for each species.

Most fish species are cold blooded, which means they do not and cannot control their internal body warmth. As a result, their metabolism is strongly influenced by the temperature of their surrounding environment.

See also 10 Tips for Teaching a Kid to Fish

Some fish finders will show you the water temperature or you can buy water temperature/depth gauges that attach to your fishing line or you lower into the water. You can also use an inexpensive thermometer, check on the internet or visit with other fishermen.

Experts can’t seem to agree on what is the best water temperature range for different species of fish in different areas of the country because it can vary. The chart at right is still a good guideline for you to know at what water temperature fish become more active.

Knowing the water temperature, along with where fish are likely to be holding and at what depth, what baits they prefer and even how you work the bait, are all pieces
of the puzzle that fit together to make a successful fishing trip.

Fish Temperatures

Temperature at which fish become more active (in degrees fahrenheit):

  • Largemouth Bass: 65-75
  • Smallmouth Bass: 65-70
  • Rock Bass: 70-74
  • White Bass: 65-70
  • White Crappie: 71-75
  • Black Crappie: 71-75
  • Walleye: 64-70
  • Yellow Perch: 68-72
  • Bluegills: 68-72
  • Channel Catfish: 82-88
  • Flathead Catfish: 84-88
  • Brown Trout: 56-66
  • Rainbow Trout: 62-64
  • Steelhead Trout: 55-60
  • Lake Trout: 50-55
  • Chinook Salmon: 55-58
  • Coho Salmon: 55-58
About our author
Larry Whiteley hosts the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World Radio Show,