Is it good to go fishing after it rains? Ever since I was a young boy, I was always told that it was, but I was never really told why. In this article, I’m going to answer this question, along with several others related to fishing before, during, and after it rains.
To answer your first question, yes…it’s good to go fishing after it rains! While not always the case, fish will typically be more likely to bite after a good rain due to being more active and aggressive.
However, there are a few things that you need to be aware of in order to maximize your chances for success. Let’s take a look at what those things are!
Why Do Fish Bite Better After it Rains
While it’s been my experience that fishing can greatly improve after a good rain, let me just say that with anything there are exceptions to the rule!
With that being said, here are several reasons why you should get out on the water after a good rain.
More Bait in The Water
A good rain has an amazing impact on the amount of bait that’s available to fish. When a heavy rain passes through, it can cause run-off from the banks and creeks. This run-off dumps all kinds of creepy crawlies into the water, including insects, worms, frogs, lizards, etc.
This influx of bait acts like a dinner buffet for bass and other fish that feed higher in the water column.
The rain also affects how the baitfish in the water act. A good rain will usually cloud up the water, which means it will be harder for the smaller fish to spot the big boys looking to eat them.
Small baitfish will usually group together in a tight ball and stick closer to shore or some other type of structure. If you can find the schools baitfish, you better believe the big boys are around too.
And here’s the good news….the cloudy water not only affects the small baitfish’s vision but it also affects the larger fish too, making them more likely to strike at just about anything that resembles a baitfish.
Increased Oxygen for Fish
The amount of oxygen in the water can greatly determine how likely fish are to bite! When the water temps cool, the water is able to maintain oxygen levels more easily, but in the summer months when things heat up, the oxygen levels can fall dramatically.
This dip can cause fish to become lethargic and sluggish, making it almost impossible to get them to bite. This is where a good rain can come into play!
While the amount of oxygen we humans breath is pretty much constant, the amount of oxygen fish absorbs in the water can change within minutes.
One way this can happen is through a good rain!
While a passing shower may not be enough to do anything to the water’s oxygen levels, a good rain (30 minutes or more) can flood a body of water with some much-needed oxygen.
This increase in oxygen can almost instantly turn the bite on by making the otherwise sluggish fish, more active and willing to bite. In short, they get a little more pep in their step!
This can be a very productive time if you are able to wet a line.
Rain Cools and Warms The Water
Another reason to head to the lake after a good rainstorm is that it can affect the temperature of the water. This can be a plus regardless of what time of year it is! Even just a few degrees drop or rise in temperature can cause fish to be more likely to strike.
During the winter months, the water can become colder than the outside temperature is. This cold water can slow down a fish’s ability to properly digest their food, preventing them from absorbing all the nutrients from their meal. This can make them sluggish and less likely to bite.
Since the outside temperature is usually warmer than the water is, if you happen to get a good rain (since the rain is likely to be warmer than the water is), it can increase the water’s temperature by a few degrees.
This slight change in temperature can be just enough to entice the fish to bite!
Rain during the summer months can have somewhat of an opposite effect in that the rain can cool off the water.
As I mentioned above, when the water heats up, there is less oxygen in it. This decreased oxygen can also cause fish to become lethargic and unwilling to bite.
A good afternoon shower can cool things off pretty quickly. This cooldown can also make fish more willing to bite.
Is it Good to Go Fishing When it’s Raining
As long as it’s not a torrential downpour and there’s no lightning around, then yes…I would say that it’s definitely good to go fishing when it’s raining too.
During a good rain, you can expect to benefit from the same things that I mentioned when going fishing after it rains.
The only exception is if the rain is due to a passing cold front!
If this is the case, it’s best to just stay home and turn on the game.
Does The Rain Affect Saltwater Fishing
The rain has pretty much the same effect on saltwater fishing as it does for those fishing in freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams. It’s GREAT!
With that being said, there are sometimes when the rain might not be your friend!
If you’re a fisherman who likes to fish the flats, sight fishing for reds or maybe bonefish, then the rain can be your enemy.
For this type of fishing, you need clear water so that you can see the fish that you are targeting.
If you get a good enough rain, it can muddy up the water, making it virtually impossible to spot your prey.
With that being said, if you are bottom fishing or fishing far offshore, the rain is probably not going to affect you one way or the other.
What About Fly Fishing After it Rains
One of the most productive times to go fly fishing is right after it rains!
Think about it…one of the biggest benefits of fishing after it rains is that the water is inundated with insects and flies.
This is the perfect time to cast a fly to an aggressive trout, salmon, or even bass or redfish!
However, while a light rain can work wonders for your chances for success, a hard downpour could ruin the day!
A hard rain can hinder a fish’s ability to see your flies!
Also, if you are fishing a running body of water such as a river or stream, a hard rain can increase the flow of the current, making it hard to keep your bait in one place long enough for the fish to see and strike it.
If you encounter a strong rain and still want to fish, it’s best to look for small pockets of slow-moving water around bends, eddies, and along the banks.
Live Bait vs Artificial Lures
Unless I’m targeting catfish or some other type of bottom feeder (In which case, I’ll use live worms), I always use artificial baits when fishing during and after it rains.
While I have caught fish with jigs and plastic worms when I keep the bait higher in the water column when retrieving my line, I typically opt for some type of topwater lure or spoon.
My favorite topwater plug is without a doubt the Heddon Super Spook! These lures come in many different colors and several sizes.
Also, I’ve had great success using them in freshwater for bass as well as in saltwater for spotted sea trout and redfish.
Although I prefer using topwater lures for rainy conditions, I have had decent luck with golden spoons as well.
How Do Cold Fronts Affect Fish
For the most part, I’ve had great success when fishing before, during, and after it rains!
However, there is one scenario when there’s a chance for rain that I’ll just stay home for the day.
That’s when a cold front is passing through!
While I don’t get excited about fishing in the cold, the cold itself has nothing to do with whether or not I’ll go fishing or not.
It’s been my experience that fishing the day of or the day after a cold front passes that the fishing is poor.
After doing tons of research as to why this is, I discovered that it can be attributed to the changes in barometric pressure that usually occurs when cold fronts pass.
As we all know, animals including fish are very sensitive to changes in the weather, even before the actual storm arrives.
A day or so before a cold front passes, the pressure begins to drop. Fish can sense this!
It’s thought that their natural instincts alert them that something is wrong and they begin to gorge themselves because they don’t know when they might be able to feed again.
This is the time when you should be on the water!
Once the front arrives though, the fish have essentially hunkered down and are less likely to feed until the front passes.
This is why I never fish during a cold front, even if it is raining!
Once the cold front passes and the pressure begins to rise, the fish will usually be hungry and more willing to bite.
While there’s no guarantee that you’ll catch a ton of fish just because of a good rain, it can greatly increase your chances!
Just remember to stay safe and never go fishing if there’s lightning nearby.
Also, make sure to pack your rain gear! I don’t care how good the fish are biting, being caught in the rain without proper rain gear (especially if it’s cold out) can put a damper on the entire trip.