Fishing Temperature Charts

October 28, 2020
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Fishing temperature charts help catch fish by focusing on areas with high water temperature and locating productive waters. Offshore fishing is complex and requires a macro view and smaller search. Satellite charting services can help track movements and data points, allowing for predictions of future fishing locations. Understanding the learning curve and interpreting imagery is crucial for success in the ever-changing ocean world.

How do fishing temperature charts help you catch fish? Is not quite that simple. There are a few more factors at work if you are actually trying to catch fish. Most big game species are caught in numbers during certain times of the year. There is a season to it. Those seasons are pretty well established. So, if it is October in the Gulf of Mexico, you know there are some big tuna being caught. It doesn't matter if it is marlin, tuna, wahoo or whatever, there is a specific season or time year they are being caught. Yes, water temperature plays a roll in why they are there, but this has more to do with why the bait is around. Big fish follow smaller fish as they move around or migrate to fertile waters. What I am getting at is to focus on areas that look promising and drill into them searching for the most productive waters. Start with a macro view and then get smaller in how you search the charts you have access to. A couple of miles in offshore fishing can be the difference between being a hero or a zero. You may be in the right water temperature, but a few miles from where the fish are biting. Being in the right patch of water is key.

Get the Most out of Satellite Fishing Maps

The offshore fishing world is massive and complex. If you can take the guess work out of where to start your fishing, the greater chances you have of boating nice fish. With so many complexities, how do you narrow down your search? How great is the learning curve for those using satellite charting? How do you generate satellite maps? More importantly, how do you interpret the imagery? What variables do you need to plug in? What you see at your computer the night before or the morning of your trip will not be the same when you get to a static spot in the middle of the ocean. In the ever changing ocean world, how do you chart a course to an area that is moving? Most of the good charting services allow you to track movements and data points, so you can predict where you need to be in the future. You are running to a moving point. If you are going to use these satellite services, get the most out of them.

Temperature Ranges for Pelagics

The fact that you are curious about fishing temperature charts, means you are probably interested in knowing where to start your fishing. While optimal fishing temperatures are a good parameter, there are a few other considerations you should take into account. If you just want to know temperature ranges within which certain species are more likely to be abundant, here is a simple fishing temperature chart, in degrees:


  • Black marlin 72-82
  • Blue marlin 74-82
  • Dolphin 72-78
  • King mackerel 68-76
  • Sailfish 72-82
  • Striped marlin 68-76
  • Swordfish 60-70 (the temp on the bottom is far lower, think about it)
  • Yellowfin tuna 72-82
  • Wahoo 64-82

Understand Where to Be

Optimal fishing temperatures tell but a small portion of why fish are in a specific area. The above sea surface temperature ranges are meant to be a very general guideline. Nothing is absolute in the ocean. Expect variances for your specific location on a hour to hour, day to day basis. Things change quickly offshore. Wave height, water conditions, currents are all evolving. We no longer live with static maps. Even though some of the satellite fishing services seem static. What the better services offer today is the ability to track changes in the water, so you can predict where you need to be. One of the greatest benefits of using a good satellite mapping service is knowing which areas to eliminate.

Layering the Maps

Having a clear understanding of what elements to look for and why it matters is huge. Let's take a look at a few of the variables that are relevant and see how to layer them, to get a more data rich perspective. If you can relate variables like sea surface temperature or SST, chlorophyll, altimetry to known waypoints or structure, you will have narrowed your fishing down to a very defined and super productive area. Your chances for success will then far outweigh just using temperature or going to the place you caught a fish the last time. Be smart in the way you use the data.

  • Sea surface temperature or SST: This should be the first thing you filter on your map, in order to start eliminating unproductive areas. There is no reason to look at areas where the chances are higher your target species will not be present. By starting with SST, you can isolate areas to begin adding more filters.
  • Chlorophyll: The next filter to add is chlorophyll. This allows you to measure the level of phytoplankton in the water. Chlorophyll is present in plankton and this is what the satellites pick up and represent as color. The blue or green coloration on the map indicates the water color or clarity. Clean is blue and dirty is green. Plankton make up the building blocks of the food chain. Concentrations of plankton will usually indicate the presence of baitfish. Where there is good bait, there will be good fishing. The blue and green areas will be side by side creating a break line. A color break is usually associated with a temperature break. By adding chlorophyll to your search, you are drilling into the data and bringing focus to your search area.
  • Altimetry: Wave height is the next parameter to add. This measures upwellings and downwellings. Stay away from downwellings, as these areas will be mostly void of sea life. Upwellings show where current is pushing to the surface, forcing nutrient rich waters and bait near the surface layer of the ocean.

By bringing these data points together, you begin to get a clearer picture of where to start your fishing. This will save you time and money when you leave the dock. Heading to the place where a fish was previously caught is like fishing with a blind fold on. Yesterdays spot could be miles away. Don't make that mistake. Fish smarter.

Correlating Known Waypoints

As you start to overlay each chart with known waypoints or structure, you are pinpointing areas within areas. The ocean is constantly changing, so you need as close to realtime information as you can get. Fishing temperature charts, SST charts, chlorophyll charts and altimetry charts when combined provide powerful information. Understanding the correlation between these various satellite data points and structure greatly improves your chances of catching fish.

Structure, no matter how big or small, is what fish relate the vast majority of the time. This structure could be man made or natural bottom. Have that in the front of your mind when you start your search. Relate everything to structure. How you search and then drill down on them is critical. If you just look at temperature, you could very well miss your mark by a long shot. But, when you can find areas with ideal sea surface temperatures, the right water color and good altimetry in relation to structure, you are going to find an assortment of bait in the water and more than likely pelagic species.

Putting all these data points together in one comprehensive map will give you an excellent head start and instill confidence in knowing what you can expect when you get there. Knowing what SST, chlorophyll and altimetry each tells you makes you a much smarter fisherman. It is not difficult to learn how to get the most out of satellite imagery. You may need to practice a little or you could watch our fishing forecast video with Thomas Hilton, of Hiltons Realtime Navigator, and get an advanced course on how to use the service. Learn how to find areas, track areas and plot a course to intercept an area to make your next offshore fishing adventure memory filled. Don't wait. Be a smarter fishermen by going with knowledge.

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Seth Horne In The Spread,
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