Have you ever arrived at your favorite fishing spot only to have dark clouds blow in with torrential rain? If so, you probably noticed many other anglers pack up and head home while a few die-hards stayed and left you wondering, “is it worth it?” Keep reading as we explore fishing after rain if you’re still wondering.
Anglers are mixed about whether fishing after rain provides significant benefits. Many agree that post-rain conditions encourage fish to move more freely and search for food, but others argue that fishing before or during the rain is better. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Fish, much like us, enjoy the reinvigoration after a good rain. Below we’ll look at which fish come out after the rain, why they do, where you should fish, what techniques, equipment, and bait work best, and the advantages and disadvantages of fishing after a rain.
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What You Need To Know About Fishing After Rain
While fish activity immediately after rain is speculative, seasonal rainfall is integral to fish population dynamics. A 2016 study in Sub-Saharan Africa showed that certain (hardy) fish species experience dramatic population growth following the rains, which then dwindle as the effects of the rain fade.
Although fish activity is frequently low during a rainfall event, once the rain abates and the skies clear, their activity levels increase, making it the perfect time for fishing (although some anglers argue that fish are more active before or during rain).
Active fish are more likely to strike at fast-moving lures and bait as their appetites are stimulated, and they hunt for food. The level of activity relates to the strength of the rain. Occasionally lighter rains generate more activity, while heavier rainfall might cause unsuitable conditions and reduce the number of bites.
If you’re uncertain about the efficacy of fishing after rain, consider the strategy many experienced anglers employ, keeping a fishing logbook.
By recording where you fished, what you caught, how big it was, the bait and tackle used, and the weather conditions (wind, rain, temperature, season, etc.), you’ll collect information that can help you identify patterns in fishing peaks and dips.
However, we highly recommend that if you fish during (and soon after) a storm, you remain far from the water if there is lightning.
To better understand fishing after the rain, we’ll investigate some mechanisms behind the increased fish activity.
Why Fish Activity Increases After Rain
Rainfall increases the number of nutrients available and dissolved oxygen (although slight, there is an increase); it creates cooler temperatures and increases air/atmospheric pressure. When rainwater drains into rivers, streams, lakes, etc., it increases the volume of water.
These changes signal to fish that food availability has increased (or is about to). If these are the first rains of the wet season, it often signals fish to start breeding.
The Rain Usually Brings More Food
As rainwater flows into larger streams, it carries organic material (plants and animals) along the river banks into the water body. This organic material becomes fish food either directly or indirectly (i.e., fish eat what fell in, or something else eats what fell into the water, and then the fish eats that).
A greater water volume creates a stronger current, which stirs up the waterbody’s benthic (floor) region, exposing organisms which hungry fish nab.
Fish Enjoy Cloudy/Murky Water Conditions
With all the movement and sediment in the water, it often discolors/becomes “cloudy,” and many timid fishes may become “emboldened” by the limited visibility as they can better hide from predators (terrestrial and airborne).
The sky also (frequently) remains cloudy/overcast after rain (depending on the area). Fish prefer overcast conditions to better see what’s above them than when it’s sunny. Making them more active.
The Rain Cools A Waterbody
Few things are as refreshing as a thunderstorm on a hot summer’s day. The rain drastically reduces the air temperature and brings the water’s surface temperature down a few degrees. Enough to encourage fish to start moving around.
As the rain falls, it also pushes dissolved oxygen into the water. Although not a drastic amount, the slight increase is often enough to boost fish energy levels, further increasing their feeding activities.
Air Pressure Is A Determining Factor
No two post-rain fishing trips are identical. The barometric (atmospheric) pressure dictates which fish (if any) are active. Most anglers agree that fishing is worthwhile if the atmospheric pressure rises; however, if the pressure stays low, you are in for a slow day of fishing.
How Long After It Rains Should I Wait To Fish?
During a rainstorm (rain in general), the air/atmospheric pressure is low. During this time, fish become less active and don’t feed as much/strike at bait (this low-level activity is true during hot summer conditions, which create high-pressure conditions).
However, fish increase their activity once the rain passes and the atmospheric pressure builds.
How long it takes for fish to become lively depends on the following:
- The volume of water that fell. More water means a greater effect on the water body. After an intensive downpour, it may take longer for the turbid waters to calm enough for fishing to be practical; however, heavy downpours might speed up the beneficial effects.
Smaller volumes might not produce enough of an effect to benefit fishing.
- The duration of the event. If the rain fell over an entire day, the benefits will be more apparent at the end of the rain as opposed to a sudden downpour. The longer the rain fell, the greater the effects.
- The type of water body. A smaller river or pond will experience a more drastic effect quicker than a larger pond, which might not be affected (if the rain event was too small). Heavy rains in smaller rivers might produce too strong of a current, and fish have often been swept away/remain hidden in pools.
- The type of fish. Some fish prefer to come out quicker than others after the rain.
Some anglers swear by fishing the morning after (early) an evening rain as more fish bite.
What Type Of Fish Can You Catch After Rain?
While fishing after rain improves your success rates for some fish, catching other species may be more difficult.
The number one species that comes alive after rain is bass.
Fishing For Bass After Rain
Once the rain passes, bass aggressively feed, attacking anything that looks edible (especially if it resembles a shad).
Particularly after a light rain, bass become stimulated by increased dissolved oxygen and decreased barometric pressure.
These busy fish will take your line, provided you set it close enough to them to find.
Other Fish That Are Active After Rain
While bass are in the top spot, several other species make fishing after rain worthwhile, including:
- Black drum
- Bluegill (and other panfish)
- Trout (speckled)
What Is The Best Bait To Use After Rain?
Bait is tricky. Ideally, you want something fish can smell in the turbid water without losing potency. Clams are popular because they retain potency in cloudy water (if you’re fishing in estuaries or the surf).
Using lures after rain will work; however, in fast-flowing water conditions (after heavy rain), your lure is at the mercy of the current.
Spinnerbaits are also a great option as they create flashes underwater and noticeable vibrations, particularly useful in poor visibility conditions.
Topwater frogs work well when bass are comfortable to come up to the surface, provided they see the lures. These are best used when the water is a bit warmer.
What Techniques And Equipment Work Best After Rain?
The equipment you bring along can also play a tremendous role in determining your success.
- Ensure that your line suits the waterbody. If the water is murky, try using a darker/green-colored line instead of a light one.
- Lures are 50/50. If the water is fast flowing, you might struggle with lure positioning; however, the current might take the lure to where the fish are. We suggest not ruling out lures entirely, as you might find them superior on the day.
- Lures work best in shallows (particularly weedless lures), especially if you aim around trees, piers/bridges, and close-to-bank vegetation.
- Spinning is a good option after a rain; however, depending on the strength of the water, the species you’re targeting, and the waterbody, you might employ jigging and other short rod techniques that focus on control.
- Due to lower visibility, you’ll need to get the bait close to the fish so they strike it.
Where Should You Fish After Rain
The best place to fish after rain is wherever you can. It’s better to be out on the water and catch nothing than to catch nothing from your living room (a philosophical point).
The next best place (if you have options available) is in drainage pathways, like where the surface runoff flows into streams, rivers, or around the shore of lakes, ponds, and creeks.
The area where rivers and streams enter creeks and lakes (and where creeks enter lakes) or even the ocean (estuarine fishing) are also great places to find fish after rain.
The flowing water carries food to these points first, and fish usually aggregate around here (you’ll see a disturbance in the shallows). Look for areas where you see “dirtier” water entering clean water, as you’re sure to find a fish or two there.
While rivers and smaller creeks, ponds, and lakes experience the most drastic changes after rain, the ocean remains relatively consistent unless a tremendous storm tears up the seabed.
The Pros And Cons Of Fishing After Rain
The reality is many anglers argue for or against fishing after the rain. Some believe that fishing just before and during rain is superior (to afterwards) and that fishing slows down once the barometric pressure (air pressure) drops.
The Advantages Of Fishing After Rain
Some positives when fishing after rain:
- Most other recreational anglers don’t enjoy getting soaking wet, so if it rains (and looks like more rain during the day) a lot, pack up and head home, opening up some great possibilities for those who stick around! (all the better to fish during the rain for this reason).
- With nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and food flowing into the waterbody, several fish species become more active, increasing the probability of a bite.
- With turbid water, fish feel safer from predators and are likelier to swim around looking for food/chase bait further.
The Disadvantages Of Fishing After Rain
The negatives of fishing after rain:
- The terrain is potentially unsafe. When fishing after rain, there is a risk of flash floods, mudslides, and muddy areas where you can get stuck and twist an ankle (or even break bones/slide down slopes, etc.). Please ensure to practice extreme caution and be vigilant of your surroundings.
- Depending on the water body, strong currents might make fishing almost impossible (fish go into hiding to escape the strong, fast-flowing water), particularly if your bait/lure is not responsive.
- In extremely murky water (after a hard rain when lots of topsoil moves into the waterbody), some fish struggle to see the bait. However, other fish (like catfish), who enjoy these conditions, can smell the bait (provided it’s potent), so you’ll need to target a fish species.
While anglers don’t always agree, fishing after rain can produce some wonderful results. Ensure you know your surroundings and the hazards while fishing where rivers/streams enter lakes/creeks. The most important aspect is that you head out and get fishing.