In many sports and hobbies, the threat of rain will see people scurrying for cover or simply staying at home. For anglers, rain actually offers the possibility of better fishing and can be a good time to head to the water. Fishing during rain is therefore an important situation to understand.
Fishing during rain can be good. Runoff from rainfall washes food sources like insects into the water and can attract a feeding frenzy. Murkier water makes it harder for fish to spot anglers and their kit, while cooler water temperature results in rising oxygen levels that can prompt fish to feed.
Rain can be seen as a good opportunity for anglers, rather than just miserable weather to avoid. Rain creates conditions that encourage certain fish to feed. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why fishing in the rain can be beneficial, as well as offering tips for fishing in the rain.
Is Fishing Better In The Rain?
Fishing can be better in the rain. The conditions created by rainfall can be advantageous to anglers and actually improve your chances of catching fish. With the right wet weather gear, you can not only enjoy fishing in the rain, but even experience better fishing in terms of catches.
A primary reason for this is that rain disturbs the water. Not only does rain break up the water’s surface, but all the runoff into the water makes for murkier conditions beneath the surface too. These factors combine to make for poorer visibility for the fish. Therefore, it becomes harder for them to spot you, whether you are on the bank or in a small boat on the water.
Similarly, rainy conditions bring in heavier cloud cover, and this also contributes to poorer visibility levels within the water. As the fish are less likely to spot you, they are less likely to become spooked, improving your chances for success without the need to think about additional stealth measures.
The murky conditions can also mean the fish that usually shelter in clearer conditions are more likely to come out to feed. Bait fish will be more confident of avoiding predators within the water, with the added incentive of birds that usually prey on these fish tending to take cover when it rains.
More Food For The Fish
The runoff generated by rain also introduces nutrients and food sources such as algae, worms and insects into the water. This can encourage fish to feed more heavily, with predators such as trout and bass responding by targeting such feeding hotspots.
Another simple reason you may end up catching more fish on a rainy day is a lack of competition with fellow anglers. Rain will put off many anglers, so if you are wise to the potential benefits of fishing in the rain you could find you have a stretch of water all to yourself!
Is Fishing Better After A Storm?
Fishing can be better after a storm. Fishing during rain is one thing but being out during or after a storm is another. Safety is always a paramount factor when fishing and should be the first consideration when a storm is forecast, particularly when threatening lightening or heavy winds.
Once the storm has moved on, fishing conditions can still be good. Fish may shelter from a storm, and once it passes, they re-emerge, often to feed voraciously. With the runoff from the storm, the additional food sources in the water further encourage heavy feeding.
Another factor is the change in atmospheric pressure associated with storms. Fish detect changes in atmospheric pressure through their swim bladders. When the pressure is falling as a storm moves in, fish feed more than normal in advance of taking shelter. After a storm, the pressure will continue to drop for a while as the front moves through.
Downsides Of Fishing After A Storm
Checking the weather reports and being sensible when storms are about is crucial. There are other potential downsides to fishing after a storm too. If the storm comes in on a particularly cold front the fish may become dormant and slow their feeding down.
Just as rain can make it harder for the fish to spot you, heavy rain during a storm can create water conditions that make it tough for you to spot where the fish are pooling. Generally, the better conditions are after a warmer front has moved across which has brought slight to moderate levels of rainfall.
How Rain Affects Fishing
Rain will affect all fishing to some degree. However, factors such as falling water temperature and atmospheric pressure can have a different impact on different fish species. Naturally, any impact on smaller bait fish has a knock-on effect on predatory fish.
Fish are largely cold-blooded and are therefore sensitive to water temperature. They need to adjust their bodies to account for the temperature of the water. As a general rule, fish tend to slow down in colder waters and need to feed less, and are most likely to feed when the water temperature is at its most optimal for the particular species.
The Effect Of Water Temperature
However, fish also need to pass dissolved oxygen over their gills to survive. The lower the temperature the more dissolved oxygen in the water. As temperatures rise, fish usually feed more, but this needs to be balanced against reduced oxygen levels. Rainfall is one of those conditions which can change water temperature quite suddenly.
However, rain can aerate a body of water as well as cool the water, which can in turn make the fish active after a period of dormancy due to low levels of dissolved oxygen. Each fish species has an optimal water temperature when they are most likely to feed. For example, trout feed when the temperatures range between 34 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit, while bass prefer slightly higher temperatures.
Bass Fishing In The Rain
Bass are very active when it rains. The fall in barometric pressure, plus the rainfall runoff bringing additional nutrients and food sources, can lead to a bass feeding frenzy. The overcast conditions and the murkier waters also help as the naturally nervous bass is less likely to spot you.
Therefore, the ideal place to fish for bass in the rain is any area where there is runoff occurring. You will need to adapt your fishing methods to the conditions, taking into account how aggressively the bass will be feeding. Bass will cover more water when they are this active, so you will need to present your bait faster than you would normally. Faster lures can be key to attracting bass.
When the rain is heavier, you will often find bass near the surface. When they are this active, they are attracted to surface lures which tend to move faster, grabbing the attention of the excited bass on a feeding frenzy. The murkier conditions will see bass move around further to find food, so you don’t have to present the lure right above them in order to get a bite.
Lures to use when fishing for bass in the rain include:
Carp Fishing In The Rain
Carp are also likely to feed during periods of rainfall, although maybe not as frenetically as bass. Oxygen levels in the water are a big factor in determining when carp feed. When oxygen levels are higher carp will more likely be looking for food, and as discussed, lower water temperatures equate to higher levels of oxygen.
The arrival of rain sees a lowering of water temperatures and a rise in oxygen levels, which can see the carp feeding again. The extent to which this occurs can vary according to the season. In summer, when temperatures are high and oxygen levels low, carp can be quite lethargic. A downpour during summer can see water temperatures drop just enough to get carp feeding once more.
Atmospheric pressure also affects oxygen levels. Oxygen levels in the water are higher during the periods of low pressure associated with rainfall. Any wind which is brought in by low pressure can also stir the waters and increase oxygen levels to get the carp moving and looking for food.
However, long periods of cold rain causing the water temperature to drop for a length of time can see carp move from shallower, colder water in search of warmer water. They will return once the water starts to warm again. As with bass, areas of runoff are a good place to fish for carp in the rain, and the carp’s fine sense of smell means murkier waters will not stop them locating your bait.
Trout Fishing In The Rain
Trout are another species for which fishing in the rain can bring rewards. Trout spend a large portion of their day eating, so when runoff from rain deposits insects and bugs into the water, trout don’t intend to miss out. The additional oxygen levels in the cooler water from rain also makes the trout more active.
Trout rely on their excellent sight to target and catch their prey. This means anyone fishing for trout needs to employ stealth so they don’t spook them. Murkier water when it rains means it is harder for trout to not only spot you, but also your fishing line.
Trout will seek out their prey, so runoff areas are good places to fish when it is raining. If you locate the food source, you will find the trout. Areas of vegetation, as well as other objects within the water where they can rest behind while feeding, are also good spots to target.
Streamers are a good lure to use for trout once the water starts to get a little murkier. You want to use a reflective or colorful lure to attract the trout when the water is not very clear. Other baits to consider when fishing for trout in the rain include:
6 Tips For Fishing In The Rain
1. Safety First
Safety always come first, even more so in adverse weather conditions. Always be aware of the weather as it can quickly change, and avoid fishing during storms. Check the forecast to see how heavy the rain is likely to be and whether thunder and lightning is expected. When you are fishing in the rain make sure you have suitable waterproof clothing and carry extra clothing in case you still get wet.
2. Change Up Your Lures
While you might instinctively think a brighter lure will do the trick in murkier waters, this is not always the case. A darker lure can also help if the waters are so murky the fish is striking more at silhouettes. Be prepared to change up your lures if the fish are not biting.
3. Make Some Noise
When the color of the water is so murky the fish are struggling to see their prey, make some noise and movement with your lure to help attract a bite. Fish have multiple senses, just like us, so play to them all if you’re struggling to get bites.
4. Be Quicker
Fish can feed more aggressively in the rain, so you may need to be sharper with your presentation and quicker when retrieving your lure to get the fish to respond.
5. Note The Wind
Monitor wind direction and the currents and drifts in the water it creates. By following the currents, you can follow the movements of the food sources in the water. Fishing by the windblown shoreline can pay dividends as this is where the food sources will be pushed.
6. Know Your Water
Where possible, familiarize yourself with the water in normal conditions first. Look for the streams, drains, mud lines and runoff areas where fish may feed, as they can be harder to spot when the water levels are higher due to rain.
Fishing In The Rain – Saltwater vs Freshwater
Rain can have an impact on both saltwater and freshwater fishing. Both types of fishing are subject to changes in water temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, currents and visibility, and with saltwater fishing in particular you also need to take into account your own safety when it’s stormy.
Saltwater Fishing In The Rain
The major factors which impact fishing in saltwater are light levels, tides, wind and weather conditions. Fish are sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure brought by weather fronts, and fish will tend to feed more prior to rain as the pressure drops. Saltwater fish do not tend to feed as much during heavy rain.
This is more to do with the wind than the rain. A strong wind causes large swells and currents, pushing bait towards the shore. It also churns up the water surface and creates a lot of noise. While churned up saltwater can make you less visible to fish, this must be balanced against personal risk being out in such conditions. When it is stormy at sea, no fish is worth the risk to an angler.
Cloud levels also play a significant role with saltwater. Fish often feed when light levels in the water are low, and therefore a heavy cloud cover during rain can be beneficial. You need to take care with your choice of lure and look to use one which replicates the color of the water. As rain stirs up the water surface and creates more noise, live bait or a scent-orientated lure may work better.
Freshwater Fishing In The Rain
Freshwater fish largely react to changes in atmospheric pressure in the same manner as saltwater fish. However, factors such as food sources washed into lakes and rivers by rainfall runoff and a rising of oxygen levels as the water cools can see fish feed freely when there is rain about.
Rain during the summer months can also help by raising water levels. Very heavy rain may have a detrimental affect though, particularly in rivers, as it changes the flow of the water and makes it tough for fish to maintain their position when searching for food.
Light to moderate rain will make the water murkier, which can be a bonus as you will be harder to spot and means you can be less stealthy than normal. However, heavy downpours can result in muddy water. This makes it harder for fish to breathe and also requires more energy to swim through. In these circumstances fish may look to conserve energy and stop feeding.
Both saltwater and freshwater require constant monitoring when you fish in the rain. Changing conditions can result in changing fish behavior. You need to be able to adapt to these changes while constantly searching for the area most likely to have the food sources for the fish you are targeting.
Disadvantages Of Fishing In The Rain
While it is certainly possible to have a good day’s fishing in the rain, it cannot be denied that there are some disadvantages to overcome, including:
- Wet, cold weather is never fun when you’re not properly prepared – Without the proper clothing a day’s fishing exposed to the elements can soon see you end up with a cold, or in extreme conditions something much worse such as hypothermia.
- Wet conditions make life more treacherous underfoot – Extra care is needed around the water and is a reason it may be best to fish in these conditions with other people, and you should at least inform someone of your plans.
- Your fishing gear is much harder to handle when wet and cold – Planning is essential to prevent such problems.
- Visibility can be an issue – Although low visibility in the water means fish are less likely to be spooked by you or your shadow, it also means it’s harder for you to spot them too.
- Stormy conditions are not good for fishing – Severe weather including heavy rain, strong winds and thunder and lightning is an unnecessary risk and fishing in these conditions should always be avoided.
Fishing in rain can be good. The cooler temperatures can increase the oxygen levels in the water, which along with food runoff into water sources can promote feeding frenzies. You can also benefit from lower visibility in the water making it harder for fish to see you.