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Fishing in the Rain
This is our most comprehancive guid for fishing in the rain. If you are in a hurry, you can go ahead and skip to our 10 tips for fishing in the rain section
Stay dry and enjoy 🙂
For the most part, everyone in my family enjoys fishing. However, we are mostly fair-weather fishermen. If it is too hot, too cold, too windy, or too rainy we generally wait for better weather. I think we largely believed that our discomfort when fishing also meant the fish would be spooked.
In some cases, this is absolutely true. Fish do change their behavior based on weather conditions. However, anglers can actually use this to their advantage. If you change up your strategy to factor in the weather, you can catch more fish than if you just avoided bad weather entirely.
For decades I went fishing on public waterways and on the land of my family and friends. This meant that every wet fishing line required planning. We had to set aside several hours, get all of our gear together, and make an event of every fishing experience. While this made quite the production out of fishing and gave us lots of good memories, I was missing out on the casual fishing trip. Of course, when you fish this way you plan for the weather and only head out when the skies are clear.
Almost a decade ago we moved onto a property with a three-acre pond stocked with bass. It was only about a 50-yard walk from our house to the water, so it was super convenient to go out and cast a few times. This was my first opportunity to test out the fishing in various different weather conditions. We were catching some monster bass in the mornings and evenings, and I started really having fun with learning about our pond.
Eventually I started reading up on various factors that can affect fish activity. This is the point when I learned that fishing during or around rainy weather can work in my favor. I was able to hone in on some ideal times for fishing, and we took advantage. It was not uncommon for us to catch a fish on every other cast for an hour or two. In this article, we will discuss fishing in the rain and how you too can be successful.
Challenges with Wet Weather
Do fish bite in the rain?
Absolutely. If you want to be successful fishing in the rain, you need to understand the way they think. Fish are primitive predators. They act and react based on instinct more than anything. Most often their behavior is based on hunting instinct, staying at a comfortable temperature, and avoiding bigger predators.
Fish largely rely on their eyesight to survive. This is how they find their next meal and spot danger in advance. They adjust where they are located based on the water temperature and the water depth. Part of this is for their comfort, and part is based on where they find their food. Here are some reasons why rain can make fishing tough and some ways you can adjust your strategy.
Whenever is starts to rain, runoff will head down from feeder streams. This water will dump into lakes and rivers where you may be fishing. It will drag debris and mud downstream and make your fishing hole cloudy. This drastically decreases visibility for the fish in that area. If fish cannot see their food sources and cannot see other predators, they often hunker down and hide until the water clears up. In addition, active rain on the surface of the water makes it more difficult for fish to see above the surface. Often this will make fish paranoid.
You have a few options if you want to move past cloudy water and catch fish. One option is to change locations. If you are near the intersection of feeder streams, move down lake from them. If you are on a river, try moving up-river from the murk. It takes a while for the debris to travel any distance, so you can often finish your day by moving a few hundred feet. Because fish will be finicky, it is tough to predict their behavior. This means taking a buckshot approach makes more sense. Change spots more often than you would in clear weather to cover more water.
You can always change the color of the lure you are using. Light and bright colors need sunlight in order to stand out from surroundings. When the water gets cloudy, these colors often do not work. Switching to dark colors like blue or black can create more of a silhouette or shadow that the fish might see through the murky water.
Finally, accept that fact that fish cannot see your lure and pick one that makes noise. Movement and noise can break through the murky water and draw in fish. Especially when bass fishing in the rain, try a topwater or a lure that rattles and maybe even add some scent. Remember that you are competing with all of the noise and movement created by rain hitting the surface of the water.
Changes in Water Depth
As the rain comes down, water levels change. This is true for rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. As the water depth changes, the fish will relocate to a more comfortable spot. When the water is low, there may be areas that have lots of vegetation and only a few inches of water. When it rains, these areas may have a few feet of water which makes them prime spots for fish. Move to these spots when it rains and be sure to adjust your lure depth when needed.
Changes in Water Temperature
Rainwater is generally colder than the water in your fishing hole because it has not had time for the sun to warm it up. The longer it rains, the colder your body of water will be. Fish like water above 60F, so they will relocate to find it when needed. Spots with limited water flow like coves and around bridges or dams will stay warm longer than areas with a current. Not only will these spots have the right temperature for fish, but they will generally have less wind as well.
Benefits of Fishing in the Rain
Yes, fishing in the rain can be tough. However, there are ways to take advantage of the situation. The same water movement that makes it hard to fish can work to your benefit if you know what to do.
Trout fishing in the rain can be especially effective if done properly. Trout have incredible eyesight, and normally are found in clear rivers and streams. They like colder water, so they rarely move just because of a drop in water temperature. If rain starts to disrupt the surface of the water, they can still hunt for food. They just have to accept that they can’t see what is above the surface. Often this type of camouflage can allow you to get closer to the fish without scaring them.
Just before a storm, the barometric pressure tends to drop. When this happens, it reduces pressure on the fish which allows their stomachs to expand. This means that they will feel hungry even if they just ate. One of my favorite times to fish is roughly an hour before a bad storm moves in. There are times I have caught my limit in just that hour before it started pouring.
While runoff is detrimental to visibility, it is great for food sources. If you have ever heard of the term ‘chumming the water’, it means dumping small bits of food in the water to increase overall fish activity. The goal is to start a feeding frenzy. Fish instinct dictates when a bountiful food sources comes along and several fish start feeding, that every fish in the area take action. When you have this many fish feeding, it is a perfect time to get your lure out there in the middle of it.
Fish are often harder to catch on sunny days without a cloud in the sky. This is because they can often see you and your movement on the shore. It is especially true if you wear bright colors like oranges or reds. When it is cloudy, there is less light. This makes it harder for fish to see danger. Especially if you are fishing with children, cloudy days can make it harder for the fish to see and hear you.
If you intend to fish in the rain or have rain in the forecast, you should have rain gear with you. Sure, there have been times I fished in the pouring rain in my dry weather clothes and didn’t mind. If it is hot outside, it might even cool you off. However, with the temperature drops that come from storms, those wet clothes could get uncomfortable quickly.
I always suggest bringing a full body rainsuit with you when wet weather might happen. Ponchos are okay, but they tend to catch the wind and get it the way. This is especially true if you are attempting to fly fish in the rain. You need to have lots of mobility, so pick a suit that is loose fitting and allows you to move your arms freely. Rain suits can get hot, so consider dressing in layers to strip down if needed.
Rain in the forecast can add all kinds of additional safety concerns, so you need to stay vigilant. We already discussed dressing appropriately. Part of the reason for bringing a rainsuit is that hypothermia can set in with temperatures as high as 60F if your clothes are wet. There are plenty of times when I go fishing in temperatures colder than that, so staying dry is key.
Flash flooding is a major concern with fishing in the rain. Fishing requires you to stay on low ground, and this is the area where flash flooding is most likely. Scope out your area and make sure you have a path to high ground at all times. Watch water levels and bail out if they rise too quickly. Bring a waterproof weather radio so you can get flash flood alerts, and make sure your phone is charged.
Really, any dangerous weather can be a problem when fishing in the rain. It is not unheard of for tornadoes, large hail, or lighting strikes to injure or kill anglers. The issue is that you are often completely exposed to the elements. Try to stick close to a vehicle if possible. If there is a solid structure close by, that is even better. Watch for wall clouds or green skies that often indicate the worst kind of storms. If the wind gets bad, head for cover. If lightning strikes start up in your area, get away from the water. Keep your rod tip down and take cover until the lightning stops.
10 tips for fishing in the rain
It is definitely not my favorite way to fish, but fishing in the rain can be a successful venture. You just need to analyze the situation and look for ways to adjust your strategy. To summarize, here are 10 tips for fishing in the rain:
- Fish right before storms to use barometric pressure to your advantage.
- Fish right after storms to hit the feeding frenzy.
- Change locations when the water depth changes.
- Change locations when the water temperature changes.
- Switch to dark colored lures in murky water.
- Move down water or up-river from cloudy feeder streams.
- Bring a fishing rain suit.
- Switch to lures that make noise.
- Add a scent to your lures.
- Stay safe and watch for severe weather.
If you follow these tips and work rainy weather fishing into your schedule, you will definitely catch more fish. Just try to stay dry.