When to Fish

Experienced anglers will tell you that there ARE best times to fish. These best times can be related to the amount of sunlight, to warming trends, to depth at which fish are found, to storm and weather patterns, to wind, and to tidal flows when saltwater fishing. Thus, WHEN to fish can also affect and be affected by WHERE to fish. Too many hot days during the summer can adversely affect fishing in shallow lakes, ponds, and rivers since the higher water temperatures can reduce oxygen in the water and cause fish to become sluggish.



Wind can play a large role in fishing success. Wind pushes bait to the far shore, with bait followed by game fish. If fishing from shore on a windy day, fish where you have to cast into the wind. If fishing from a boat, cast with the wind on a sheltered shore.


Storms and changing weather patterns affect fishing success since fish are keenly attuned to changes in barometric conditions. With many fish, feeding increases during the hours immediately before a cold front, but slows during and after a storm or front hits. Fishing after a cold front is poor and continues to be poor for a day or two.

Warm fronts cause surface water temperatures to increase. Such fronts often put fish into a feeding mode. This can be particularly true in the winter, when a warming trend can cause otherwise sluggish fish to start feeding actively. Most of this feeding activity is on or near the warm surface.

Cloud Cover

Cloudy days improve fishing since the clouds prevent light penetration. Overcast skies cause fish to cruise for food more than they would during bright days when they tend to hide and stay close to structure. On overcast cloudy days, fish are less likely to be on specific structure spots or areas and more likely to be scattered throughout a waterway.


Another good time to fish is during a light rain, especially a warm spring or summer rain. Rain can help you hide from the fish since the rain breaks up the view that the fish has through the water surface. This is true whether shore, wade or boat fishing. Rain also washes insects and bait into the water, with this extra food creating a feeding binge for fish. Warm rains quickly warm the water to cause these feeding periods.

Hard rain conditions are a poor time to fish since heavy rains can muddy the water, make it difficult for fish to find bait or lures, and also cause heavy runoff which can clog their gills. The increased water flow in rivers from any rain increases current flow and makes it difficult for fish to maintain a comfortable position in the river. High water levels can also create rapids, waves and unsafe fishing conditions. If there is any lightning or possibility of lightning, you must get off of the water in your boat or immediately away from the water if wading or fishing from the shore. Safety must come first in any fishing situation.


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