Best Water Temperature for Fishing- Basic Guidelines 2023

It is obvious that there is no consensus among professionals, scientists, or fishermen regarding the ideal water fishing temperature demands for the different fish species. While reading an article you will find that it has some discrepancies. It is perhaps because each has experienced exceptional fishing while the others (under identical circumstances) have not.

Additionally, it is difficult to come up with a universal number given the diversity of fish distributed throughout a range of climatic circumstances. Smallmouth bass in Michigan has most likely adapted to colder water temperatures than their relatives in the South. Nevertheless, the accompanying graph serves as a useful guide for preferred water temperatures in general.

If you are an expert fisherman or a newbie, both of them need to know the best temperature for fishing before going towards it. The water temperature is one of the most crucial factors you should be aware of if you want to hunt. When the temperature of the water is in the range that the fish prefer, the fish become more energetic and more likely to take a correctly placed bait. For every species, that range varies.

Comparison Table of Temperature for Fishing

FishReduced AvoidanceOptimum Temperature RangeEnhanced Avoidance
Atlantic Salmon4550-62N/A
Black Crappie607175
Blue CatfishN/A77-82N/A
Brook Trout445870
Brown Bullhead6578-8285
Brown Trout4456-6675
Channel Catfish5582-8990+
Chinook Salmon445560
Coho Salmon445560
Flathead Catfish818590
Lake Trout4050-5560
Largemouth Bass5065-7585
Northern Pike556574
Rainbow Trout446175
Rock BassN/A70N/A
Smallmouth Bass Striped Bass(Freshwater) Striped Bass(Saltwater)60 N/A N/A65-70 50-70 55-6873 N/A N/A
Steelhead Trout3855-60N/A
White Bass5565-7080
White CatfishN/A80-85N/A
White CrappieN/A61N/A
White PerchN/A89N/A
Yellow Perch586875

You need to take into account numerous aspects when you are going to attempt the ideal temperature for your target species. A fish’s mobility and feeding habits will be significantly impacted by the stable temperature outside of its sustainable range as well as unexpected cold fronts and heatwaves.

Basic Guidelines

As a basic  guideline, a fish’s reaction to temperature differs significantly between freshwater and saltwater. Fish that live in saltwater are more resistant to temperature changes because seawater is dense and less prone to fluctuation. Additionally, there is frequently more accessible cover, greater depth, and no limits to prevent them from moving to waters with better conditions.

In the case of fresh water, because of smaller water volumes and shallower depths those that are reservoir-bound, frequently alternate between finding refuge at the bottom. Also in sparse, they cover as a way to adapt to temperature variations. The purpose of this article leads to the ideal and appropriate temperature ranges for various fish species in saltwater and freshwater. I will discuss a number of pointers on what to watch out for to boost your technique and avoid starting out on a day that will undoubtedly be slow.

Best Water Temperature Range for various Species

Largemouth Bass (Ideal Temperature Range)

Although largemouth bass, which is predominantly found in freshwater, has a rather broad active temperature range (working well between 39 and 90°F). They do not feed continually and are quite particular about their prey. They try to eat when baitfish are most energetic in their waters, choosing larger fish, and they typically go longer between meals. The temperature that causes their baitfish to gather in schools and feed close to the surface is the one that is ideal for their eating. While it is true that bass will bite at any temperature, their feeding will become noticeably slower when the water temperature approaches the 40°F threshold.

large mouth bass fishing

Fishing-friendly water temperatures range from 50 to 84 °F for Largemouth Bass

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Striped Bass (Saltwater)

When you come across the majority of the bass species you will come to know that stripers are active for a large portion of the year. Based on their life stage, they exhibit a variety of feeding habits, with a tendency to run for lure as water temperatures increase above 46°F. This helps them to focus on crabs, caterpillars, bugs, and, as they become older, baitfish like saltwater fish, flounder, and silversides off the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf.

striped bass saltwater fishing temperature

According to their main water body (since gulf and Atlantic strippers are classified as separate strains) and their main food supply, they will respond to a temperature in somewhat different ways. Since saltwater is considered to be a great heat insulator than freshwater it will reach surface temperatures slower and hold onto heat longer. In light of this concept, the ideal temperature range for striped bass in saltwater is determined by the times of day when the fish are most active, such as in the centre of the column or close to the coast.

Striped Bass (Freshwater)

Freshwater stripers will respond to temperature fluctuations more rapidly than saltwater or brackish fish will. While many stripers are imprisoned in reservoirs, they are pelagic cool-water species that travel to freshwater to reproduce. Striped bass will go through an ascetic phase when reproducing occurs, which usually takes place between April and June and occurs at temperatures between 61 and 69°F.

However, instantly after this, stripers will be at their pinnacle of activity and are likely to bite without regard to the weather. Since their behaviors are more reliable and their nutrients tend to be more competitive, freshwater stripers will eventually have a larger desirable and acceptable range for hunting than will their saltwater counterparts. Have a look at the suitable lure colors for bass fishing.

range for striped bass fresh water

Suitable water Temperature for Striped Bass

Since striped bass and the majority of other species are less energetic in colder climates, it is reasonable to expect that they will also be less energetic in colder climates where lower temperatures exist. The striped bass is an excellent fish to catch at sunrise and twilight because it is known that it avoids sunlight and will run deeper during those days and become more lethargic. The following can be used to determine the depths and their behaviours.

  • 55° F and lower:

Striped bass is normally less energetic and is captured less frequently when the temperature is below 55° F. Sometimes stripers are caught in water that is below 44° F. At this temperature, striped bass can be found at any depth between 10 and 20 feet.

  • 55-58° F:

Stripers start to “wake up” and become more active between 55 and 58° F. They can be located in 10 feet or deeper of water.

  • 58-68° F:

Striped bass prefers water temperatures between 58 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can usually locate them at depths of 6 to 10 feet.

Smallmouth Bass (Ideal Temperature Range)

Smallmouth bass is often more energetic throughout the day and prefers smaller prey like crayfish, bug nymphs, and tiny baitfish. They have a more narrow feeding area than largemouth bass. Because they will be eager to pounce on anything that comes their way when the temperature is correct, this helps their hunting window feel more precise. Even though they can be trapped at temperatures close to freezing due to their rapid metabolism, they are far less likely to attack outside of their comfortable temperature range. The reasonable water temperature for smallmouth bass is 48-74°F.

small mouth bass fishing

Here is a detailed guide on tips and tricks for catching bass in summer.


Even though channel catfish are the most common in the United States, most catfish are similarly impacted by temperature. At around 70°F, they prefer to become most energetic and scavenge any minor food sources that are accessible. They make them rapid to take the majority of baits and rigs. Since catfish are one of the less picky species, you should have no trouble catching them as long as the facilities are favourable. Catfish become slower and seek the safety of greater depths and drop-offs as temperatures rise beyond 80°F or fall below 50°F.

The acceptable water temperature range in hunting catfish is 50-81°F. Although you can do fishing in cold water to catch catfish the main spring catch demands water temperatures of at least 50°F. After this, the biting gets better and better until the incubation temperature hits about 70°F. A catfish’s metabolism quickens during this period, necessitating increased food intake for both survival and growth.

It is quite simple to understand that a fish will eat more if its body has a higher metabolism. It means that the more they consume, the more widespread and energetic they become, making it simple to catch them. It would be excellent if the water temperature reached 50°F and then increased gradually over a few weeks, enabling them to feed regularly. Now that the temperature has settled, it is feeding time, and the catfish are in a hunting rage, gorging on any raw flesh they can find. Some of the best catfishing of the year could be had by keeping an eye on the situation and being prepared for the bite when it arrives.

Musky and Northern Pike

Because of their similar body morphologies, northern pike and muskie, both members of the species Esox, can survive in a wide variety of temperatures. Given that these species are present in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs across the United States. There is a lot of misleading information available regarding the ideal temperatures for catching them.

This may be due to the geographical preferences of the fish. We can determine the precise ideal water temperature by averaging these figures. Although both fish remain more active even when temperatures get close to freezing, these ambush hunters become much more choosy below the 45°F threshold. When you are going to catch Musky and Northern Pike the ideal temperature range should be 45-80°F. You may also learn how to catch the best lures for pike to hunt them in an easier way.

 musky and pike fish

Crappie and Perch

As water temperatures drop below freezing, both crappie and perch will become comparatively passive, with perch being able to endure somewhat colder waters. They will eventually need to eat, though, and with the correct bait and approach, they may still be caught in temperatures close to freezing. Their ideal environment will be close to 70°F, and the optimum time to observe them will be during their summer feeding frenzy.

  • Under 40 °F, crappies are present in deep holes. Although the bite will be slow, the fishing may be good.
  • In the temperature range of 41-50 °F, to recover after the winter, crappie settles into deep waters and begins to feed more.
  • During 51-60 °F, Crappie need must recoup from the winter and get ready for spawning in “pre-spawn” water temperatures.
  • The range of 61-68 °F is the ideal temperature for spawning. In this temperature range, angling gets much better “post-spawn.”
  • The fishing will be superb in the temperature range of 69-73 °F. Some crappies may attack and bite hard.
  • Crappie will scatter from schools above 74 °F; they will still feed, but they will do so more slowly.


Although cutthroat, bull, and brook trout-like temperatures in the mid-to-low-50s, brown trout prefer temperatures in the low-60s. The rainbow trout temperatures are in the mid-to-low-60s, which provides a fair all-around figure for most types of trout. Knowing the depth of your desired waterbody is vital since trout normally prefer the somewhat colder ends. These colder ends provide their ideal range in shallower waterbodies than they do in deeper lakes and reservoirs.

 trout fishing

Although trout will actively feed in water between the temperatures of 39 and 65° F, the ideal temperature for trout is somewhere between 40 and 49° F. When it comes to behavior and feeding, the water temperature has a significant impact on trout. Get the best trout rods to fish trout in the best way.


Salmons are fish species that like a wide range temperature range depending on the sides of the United States you are going. If you want to catch the largest Chinook salmon you can usually take it in the summer surface temperatures that are considerably lower. But the Atlantic salmon will typically choose the middle and seek actively a warmer temperature. Salmon are typically cold-water fish that will swim and seek safety closer to the bottom of the surface temperature rises above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

 marine salmon fishing

Water temperatures between 55 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for marine salmon in Oregon, California, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska. Water between 42° and 65° F is ideal for mid-western isolated salmon in the Great Lakes. Since almost all animals are sensitive to temperature changes, it might be challenging to predict certain behaviors, including spawning. 

  • Nearly all coastal salmon Full normality for a juvenile to mature function occurs between 55 and 64 degrees.
  • Landlocked salmon grow at their best in waters that are less than 65 degrees, typically near the Great Lakes.


Another fish, the tarpon, will fish more ferociously when the water temperature is close to 80°F; at 75°F. However, they start to slow down and become more opportunist. As tarpon cannot survive below 55°F, their permissible feeding range is much wider than that of other species since they can maintain a large amount of energy in the lower 60°F range.


Weakfish, sometimes known as seatrout, is an Atlantic coast living species that is most frequently seen close to New York and North Carolina. However, they can also be found in the Gulf and as far north as Maine. Generally, seatrout loves low temperatures, and they start to get more active at about 60°F. Seatrout, a predator species, can react more quickly to sudden temperature changes. Because they surprise their prey as they gather in schools close to the surface and in the middle of the water column. Besides all this, anglers must have a brief knowledge about the best lures to catch trout that will help them in making their experience perfect.


Ideal Water Temperature Range: 40- 45 Fahrenheit

The most common location for finding Walleye is in the Midwest and Central Canada. The most suitable weather for Walleye fishing in winter refers to colder temperatures. That is why they are most active right before spawning. Go to catch Walleye in their ideal time which is mid-march and early April. For instance, the water begins to warm up, and now is the perfect time to fish. This normally happens when the temperature gets into the low 40s.

Since there are more direct consequences of changing the weather, walleye spawn faster in streams and shallower water bodies like rivers and ponds. Continuing their ideal range, walleye are also quite productive in the autumn, between August and October. If you a walleye fishing lover, you must choose the best fishing line for walleye.

Fish Behavior

Another important factor to take into account when analyzing water temperatures is fish behavior. Both feeding and spawning behaviors have a bearing on fishing. During the day, feeding habits are likely to alter in response to even the slightest temperature variations. Fish behavior changes as feed items vary (more on this below). In the sweltering afternoons, many fish are also known to take a brief nap. For many species, the best times are in the mornings and nights when it is a little cooler.

To determine when the fish begin to spawn, the main factor you have to consider is the temperature ranges on a large scale. When the winter water reaches a certain maximum temperature, which is frequently still much colder than their ideal summer temperatures, the spawn for spring spawners like rainbow trout and largemouth bass begins. It’s a terrific technique to time your fishing perfectly and steers clear of less fruitful times if you know when to start hunting for feeding or spawning fish.

When does it get too cold to fish?

Fish experience the same effects of cold weather that most other creatures do: their metabolism slows, they seek refuge, they become less active, or they migrate to warmer waters. Many various fish species will respond to the cold in different ways. Some, like walleye, will thaw out in waters that are almost freezing, while others will plunge to the bottom of a lake or reservoir. Also, they look for cover in the sea or search for trash.

cold water fishing

It’s critical to comprehend how your target species will react to unexpected changes in temperature. Since many fish have a range of temperatures within which they can be captured, certain species will continue to bite as the temperature falls below that range. The target fish will either leave your water body to live or they will not throw for bait even if it reaches the bottom, making the weather too cold for fishing.

You will find it crucial to keep in mind that feeding a fish in the bottom will maintain consistency in their feeding habitats unless they are close to the coast. This is because deeper water is more opposed to change and more insulated. You need to decrease the size of your bait and the motion of the line by resetting them if you are not getting any response. Use a gradual approach to try to persuade a fish to dive. Explore the key differences between the hunting waders and fishing waders.

When does it too hot to fish?

Comparable to how they adapt to cold fronts, fish can flee the beach during sudden heat waves or grow listless and seek refuge in ponds or reservoirs. Fish in deeper water still remain active since the bottom is more insulated due to convection and will stay cooler than surface waters on hot days. While fish that depend on sight to hunt may not strike as their attention changes to self-preservation.

During the summer times, too much solar radiations cause the fish to seek ledges, holes or other shady covers to avoid getting scorched. Despite the fact that many fish depend on a low-light disguise for feeding, a good general rule is to keep fish away from bright, extremely hot days.

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