You’ve been watching the weather all morning trying to determine when or if the rain was going to clear out. Now that the storms passed, you’re wondering if you can still go fishing this afternoon. Are the fish more likely to bite after it rains, or should you wait for a sunnier day?
Fishing can be good after it rains, but not if the weather caused too many changes to the water clarity, oxygen levels, air pressure, and water temperature. For example, if the day was warm and sunny and then a cold rain passed through, you’re not likely to get many bites after the storm.
In this article, we’ll go in-depth on all the factors that make post-rain fishing a good or bad idea. This information will prevent you from wasting an afternoon on your fishing boat waiting for fish that just aren’t going to come.
Let’s get started!
These Factors Determine Whether Fishing Is Good After It Rains
The reason it’s hard to say with absolute certainty whether you should go fishing after it rains is that so many weather factors come into play. Let’s talk about these now so you can better gauge which conditions are conducive for fishing.
Most lake and river floors comprise inorganic materials like silt, dirt, or clay. When it rains, depending on how pelting the rainfall is, dirt and sand can get dredged up, muddying the water and reducing the clarity. The conditions are now darker.
This might make some fish more active such as bullheads, catfish, and carp, as these fish usually feed at night. For the fish that don’t come out at night, this sudden darkness will cause them to try to get away. They can cluster in shallow areas where they’re ripe for the catching. Well, provided you can see the fish in the unclear water, that is.
Fish breathe oxygen just like we people do. The water temperature (which we’ll talk more about later) makes the oxygen levels in the lake or river fluctuate. In colder waters, fish breathe more slowly.
This causes their metabolism to decrease and their activity rates to slow. When the water temps begin warming up, a fish’s metabolism is boosted in kind. The fish also breathes more, so it needs to use more oxygen.
Warm temperatures and high humidity are more common before a storm. As the humid air goes through the atmosphere, it can become a thunderstorm. The storm will usually bring with it a cool front after the rains end. Thus, oxygen levels will decrease, and the fish’s activity will as well. You’re better off fishing before it rains.
Air temperature and air pressure, also known as barometric pressure, are two different things. Barometric or atmospheric pressure is how much pressure that air applies on a surface overhead while gravity pulls down on that surface.
Have you ever noticed that your cat or dog gets panicky about a storm hours before it happens? Animals can sense changes in barometric pressure. It’s not just domesticated pets either, but animals such as bees, birds, and fish.
This instinct tells the animal that they should take cover before a storm occurs so they’re not caught out in it, which could be dangerous for them. In the time before a rainstorm, the barometric pressure is usually low. Fish will be more active since they’re not yet alerted to possible impending danger.
Yet as soon as the barometric pressure rises, they’re going to try to hide. The increased pressure physically affects fish, pressing on their bodies and giving them the sensation of a full stomach even when they haven’t eaten. Thus, their interest in feeding will be practically nonexistent.
This is important to know, as high barometric pressure can continue even after the rains end. If you go out too soon after a storm, you’ll have a bad day of fishing. You’d have to wait for the barometric pressure to drop and then try fishing.
The last factor that can affect your post-rain fishing success is the water temperature.
All fish have preferred temperatures. Here’s a list for your perusal:
- Largemouth bass – 60 to 77 degrees
- Bluegill and crappie – 65 to 75 degrees
- Northern pike – 55 to 75 degrees
- Muskellunge – 55 to 73 degrees
- Brown trout – 52 to 73 degrees
- Yellow perch – 55 to 72 degrees
- Walleye – 53 to 72 degrees
- Smallmouth bass – 58 to 71 degrees
- Rainbow trout – 50 to 65 degrees
- Brook trout – 48 to 65 degrees
- Chinook salmon and coho salmon – 44 to 60 degrees
- Lake trout – 42 to 55 degrees
The above temp ranges for fish are good to keep handy, especially if you already know the type of fish that are common in the lakes and rivers near you. You could check the water temperature and anticipate which fish might be biting.
Can You Fish While It’s Raining?
Now you know that in some instances, it’s better to fish before it rains and in others, you should fish afterward. What if you wanted to fish right in the middle of the rain? Can you? And is it safe?
Some anglers swear by fishing in the rain while others avoid it entirely. If you do decide to venture out while it’s raining, you’ll have the benefit of being one of the only fishermen or women out there. Only hardcore anglers will want to brave the weather to fish.
Here are some tips that will come in handy for rainy fishing.
Wear the Right Gear
You’ll need rainy weather gear from head to toe, including a raincoat, rainboots, and a waterproof hat. Avoid wearing cotton, as it doesn’t absorb water or sweat particularly well, so your wet clothes will stick to your body and make you colder.
Know What You’re Fishing For
Your favorite lake might always be stocked with bluegills, but the weather is going to change which fish will surface. As you’ll recall from earlier, fish that like darkness could be more likely to propagate during the rain if the waters are muddied.
Fish Near the Surface
Some fish might be more likely to linger nearer the surface when it rains. This is to your benefit, as you can easily nab them. You can also avoid upsetting the sediment even further since you won’t have to toss your hook too deep into the water.
Go to Inlets
As the tides increase during a storm, fish will move towards spillways, inlets, and drains, as fish food such as small insects and zooplankton could be forced near these areas thanks to the force of the tides. By fishing in these spots, you might have an easier time reeling in a catch.
Choose Bright Bait
We talked about this before, but a storm can reduce water clarity. To ensure the fish can see your bait, use bright hues. This is only an option with artificial bait. You can also rely on noise to attract fish such as with a popping cork or crankbait.
Never Fish in Stormy Weather
We can’t stress this enough, but when there’s thunder or lightning on the horizon, you should not go fishing. The fish are freaked out and will be hiding, so it’s a waste of your time. Much more importantly, it’s not safe.
Lightning strikes occur according to three criteria: the height of an object, whether the object has a point, and if it’s isolated. You’re not particularly tall in your fishing boat, but it’s triangular enough that it could become the target of a lightning strike. Plus, out there on the water, when you’re all alone, you’re again an open target.
Water is a good insulator of electricity, so a lightning strike on a lake could be deadly!
Does Cloudy Weather Affect Your Fishing Success?
What if there’s no rain in the forecast but the day is overcast? Is it a good time to go fishing?
It can be! If it’s a warm, overcast day, then the fishes’ oxygen levels and metabolism should be high enough that they’re active. Yet on overcast, cool days, you might notice less activity.
As you would when fishing in the rain, you need loud or bright lures to attract fish since the grayness of the weather makes the water a bit dark. Topwater fishing is still an option, as fish might be nearer to the surface. If they’re not biting, don’t be afraid to go deeper.
Many anglers have had luck catching bass on overcast, gray days, so you might be able to do the same!
Fishing after it rains is worth considering, but the barometric pressure must decrease first, or the fish won’t be as active. Many anglers like to fish before the rain, as the water temperature, barometric pressure, oxygen levels, and water clarity are better.
If you want to go fishing during a rainstorm, ensure there’s no thunder or lightning. Some fish might feed closer to the inlets while it’s raining, so it’s worth a shot. Best of luck out there!