Anglers can still have a great day fishing in the rain.
While it is true that a sunny day makes for a more pleasurable fishing experience, you can probably catch more fish when the raindrops start falling. Rain affects fish more than you might realize, and if you can understand why, you can make a rainy-weather fishing trip into an incredibly memorable one.
There is a lot to this, especially for bass fishing, but we have fishing tips that will help.
Here are some reasons why fishing in the rain is worth it and three tactics to try out.
Rain can trigger a feeding frenzy.
One top reason fishing in the rain is worth it is because a rainstorm can be an X-factor that changes everything. Let's say you've been dealing with a weather forecast that's been extremely hot and muggy in the dog days of summer. Odds are the bite has been tough and you just aren't catching as many as you'd like.
A sudden drop in barometric pressure and a heavy rain can be like flipping a switch on the bite for your favorite fishing spot in this situation. As the rain falls, it brings fresh oxygen in and changes the water temperature. These sudden changes will energize the baitfish and in turn, bring a sudden burst of feeding energy to many game fish.
A good downpour can easily turn a dud of a fishing trip into one of the best you've ever been on in some cases.
Fishing in the rain brings out the big fish.
It can be very difficult to locate especially large fish if they're down at great depths. But, rainy days can be some of the best for big fish and it all has to do with how rain disrupts things down deep. First, rains can churn up sediments near the bottom, forcing fish to the surface.
Have you ever jumped into a lake right after a rain? You likely noticed how much colder the water is than normal. A good drizzle tends to make the warmer water sink in the water column. Let's say you've got a big school of bass suspended at depth to get away from oppressive summer heat. When that warm water sinks, it's going to drive them up to get to cooler water near the surface. This is why fishing deep water jigs isn't a great rain tactic.
Big fish can get quite lazy and complacent, especially if conditions have been steadily warm for a while. Even a good light rain will usually wake them up in a hurry and trigger their natural feeding instincts. Those big fish that are normally wary of artificial lures are much more likely to let their guard down when it gets cloudy and the rain starts falling.
The last reason fishing in the rain is worth it is simply because it scares angling competition away. Most people are lazy and not willing to get wet just to catch a fish. Another angler's loss is your gain. You know that super-busy lake where it feels like you're constantly bumping elbows with other fishermen and women? Grab a rain jacket and head out in a heavy downpour.
Odds are, you'll have much of the lake to yourself. Sometimes, the tougher the conditions, the better. On heavily pressured lakes, the fish know when they're being targeted, and many know that pressure falls off at the same time the skies open with precipitation.
Now let's talk tactics to use on a rainy day.
Focus on creeks and inlets.
Most pros agree, when the rain starts falling, you need to find locations where water is flowing into a lake. It could be a creek, it could be a river, it could even be a small inlet or even a culvert. These spots are even more effective where clear water is present.
While rain is going to help circulate fresh oxygen everywhere in a body of water, it's going to do so even faster here because of runoff flowing into the lake. This in turn, draws in a ton of baitfish and bass and other predatory gamefish are going to go to where their prey is when the rain is falling.
Remember what we said about sediments being disturbed. Fish will tend to move away from that. In some feeder inlets and creeks you may be able to see a clearly defined line between clear and murkier water. This is a good spot to work your bait to catch fish opportunistically feeding as they move into clearer, shallower waters.
Fish to cover a lot of water in a hurry.
When we say that rain spurs a burst of feeding energy in the fish, we mean it. Fish that have previously been holding tight to cover or suspended at depth in one location are now more likely to start roaming around. In some cases, you'll find fish prowling or cruising through areas you wouldn't normally find them.
Fishing in the rain is usually about covering as much ground as possible. We suggest fast-moving crankbaits and spinnerbaits. In a sense, you're perfectly "matching the hatch" as a fly fishing enthusiast might say. However, instead of matching insects, you're matching the baitfish that have likely been stirred up by the rain drops.
Keep a close eye on water clarity here. In some locations, the rain is going to cloud the water faster than others. If that's the case, go for bigger, nosier and flashier lures than normal to help the fish locate the bait.
Another thing to keep a close eye on is water levels. Be familiar with the waters you're fishing. If you've had a series of major thunderstorms and water levels have risen 2 or more feet, there is the possibility of additional cover in things like seawalls, yard furniture and wood structure that is not normally submerged. Work these areas quickly to determine if they're holding fish before moving on.
Rain is prime time for topwaters.
We love fishing with topwater lures--any topwater lure. Most people seem to reserve them for calm, spring and summer mornings where there isn't a ripple anywhere on the surface of the water. But topwaters can be dynamite in a rain, too.
This goes back to what I said in the last tip about covering a lot of water quickly. Something like a stickbait or buzzbait can help you do that quickly in a rain. At the very least, they make for good locater baits because you can more easily see swipes and follows than you can with a subsurface lure.
Just like with the spinnerbaits and crankbaits, try to go a little larger than normal with the lure you use. Something big and flashy that looks like a wounded baitfish is perfect. The fish are going to be keying on prey items like this during a rain and many larger fish will go for the easier meal of a prey item that already appears to be crippled.
Rain gear and rain fishing safety.
Before we wrap this up, we do want to take a few moments to talk fishing safety when it comes to rain. Because with rain comes the possibilities of thunderstorms and lightning. The latter is not something you should mess with in any circumstance. Many anglers have been killed when their fishing rod became a literal lightning rod. We don't care how good the fishing is, it's just not worth it to chance it.
That's why we recommend heading in the second you hear thunder. Because where there's thunder, there is lightning. Keep a close eye on the weather forecasts. There's really no excuse not to with cell phone technology able to deliver weather alerts at a moment's notice.
But if there is no thunder or lighting, a little rain never hurt anyone. Although it can make for an uncomfortable experience. This is where a good rain suit comes in. It doesn't have to be super-fancy. I personally wear a jacket that cost less than $50, but it has a nice waterproof coating that sheds the drops of a light rain quite nicely.
Depending on how cold your area gets, look at things like insulation and breathability as factors for selecting a coat. If you live in the south, you obviously won't need as much insulation as someone who fishes in the north. Gore-Tex materials are especially nice for their ability to shed water and keep you dry through a long, rainy day on the water.
Simms, Columbia, Frog Toggs and Marmot are all good brands to consider if you're looking to buy some serious rain gear.
So, the next time you wake up on your day off to see cloudy skies and raindrops streaking on your window, don't dismay. Head to the lake anyway. It may be your best day on the water ever!