Home » Articles » Spring Warming Water Trends and Fishing Success

By Adam M. Glickman

I think that fishermen (whether they realize it or not) usually succeed or fail based on water temperature. I am forthcoming with this thought, and have made it known as often a I could.

As a result of this, I often get asked about my preferred water temperatures for various species at different times throughout the year. Of course, I always have certain temperature that I am looking for, but what are often more important (especially in spring) are water temperature trends. What I mean by water temperature trends are basically 3 things: Is the water in a pattern of dropping, steady, or rising temperature.

During spring, even if everyday is warm, sunny, and calm; the water is still fluctuating with temperature swings of up to 6-10 F every 24 hours. The nights are still cool and water temperature rises every warm day only to drop back down at night because there is no sunlight and the air is cooler. This is why afternoon and evening fishing is often the best in the spring, because the water has had a chance to warm and get fish active. Every early morning is like a mini cold front scenario, even if the weather has been seasonable.

Warming trends (both long and short term) are very important for spring activity levels in most gamefish species in WI and MN. Long term meaning a good stretch of warm sunny weather where the daily high water temperature continues to increase at least a little every subsequent day. The water can drop 9 degrees every night, but if it comes back up 9.25 degrees every day; that water temperature is moving in a steady positive direction. Of course, a short term warming trend is just what happens during the day after each night. I have certainly noticed that the hotter the day in May, the faster and greater the rise in water temperature, and the better the fish are biting.


Small increases usually produce less action.In years like this, where no cold front is much cooler than the last and no warm front warmer than the last for essentially 2 months, things kind of “stall out”. Fish come up with warmer weather, and push back into deeper water when it gets cool. Fish that are more or less “ice out” spawners, such as pike and walleye, spawn (though in a more drawn out fashion). Fish that need 60-70 F to spawn ( bass, bluegill, and crappie) essentially just wait in our near shallow spawning grounds, feeding in order to prepare. In some instances, if ideal spawning conditions are not reached and the spring season gets too long in the tooth, these fish will not spawn and reabsorb their reproductive material. This happens more often to the north than to the south in WI and MN. The drawback of this is it essentially eliminates an entire year class of fish, but the silver lining is it gives the fish that reabsorbed the energy of their reproductive material (eggs or milt) a nice bump in calories and often allows them increased growth rates.

Cold fronts during spring kill action like none other. Fish that pushed into the shallows often drop deep again. After a severe cold front, I can’t even find any carp to shoot even if the area was full of them just the day before. The only exception I can think of are trout streams. Cold fronts seem to have little negative impact on the trout within, and the overcast and rain typically associated with the cold front can really get the big ones out of the thick stuff and on the feed. During our recent cold snap on April 28,29, and 30; I caught 40 browns up to 19″ and 50 brooks up to 12″ in about 13 hours. At the same time, panfish reports from local lakes were pretty dismal as larger fish took cover or dropped deep and were very inactive.Those who pay attention to water temperature and water temperature trends and adjust their fishing accordingly will be more successful than those who don’t, especially during spring. Stay safe, have fun, and see you on the water.


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Adam Glickman is an independent agent who shops across 9 different A rated insurance companies to best meet your MN and WI home, renters, auto, life, boat, and commercial insurance needs. For more information, contact Glickman at 612-750-0546 or at adam@lcisagency.com