The Rainy Day Catch: Is it Good to Fish After Rain?

John Malcolm
John MalcolmPublished: March 21, 2023
The Rainy Day Catch: Is it Good to Fish After Rain?

One question we get all of the time is, “Is it good to fish after rain?” The answer is yes, but there are some factors that should be taken into consideration first.

My dad used to tell me that bass fishing was best after a rainstorm. He was right. We always caught bigger fish after a storm. However, I never new why until later in life when I was bringing in largemouth bass on my own. Then I learned the science of how weather can affect fishing.

There's a bit more to rain fishing than the precipitation coming down. It has to do with the cold water and barometric pressure as well.

When fish bite the most.

There are a lot of variables when it comes to fishing. The fish species, barometric pressure, water temperature, and clarity all play a role in where and when the fish will bite.

One of those variables is rain.

When it rains, many anglers flock to their favorite fishing spots to take advantage of the changes that occur after rainfall.

Rainfall has an effect on both freshwater and saltwater environments. In some cases, heavy rain can reduce the water temperature and decrease visibility, making it difficult for fish to locate bait or food sources. In other cases, heavy rain can "refresh" a lake by replenishing oxygen levels, which encourages growth of phytoplankton--a food source for many gamefish species.

Rainy days bring with them much more than water. The rain washes away nutrients from the surrounding terrain, which can make the waters richer and encourage aquatic life to thrive. This usually results in an increase in fish activity due to the abundance of food sources.

The effects of rain on fishing can vary depending on the amount and type of precipitation that occurs. Generally speaking, light rainfall tends to have a positive effect on fishing, while heavier rainfall can have a negative impact.

Fish tend to be most active in the hours after the rain has stopped and the water begins to clear. This is when food sources become more readily available and fish are looking for their next meal.

Does water temperature affect when you catch fish?

Absolutely! But remember, not all fish react to the same water temperatures. If you're looking to do some bass fishing you're going to want the water temperature right around 70°F. That's not to say they won't bite any other time, but that's when we've noticed the best temperature to be.

However, if you're targeting smaller fish, such as trout, you'll want the water to be a bit cooler. Ideally, for trout, the water should be around 55°F for them to bite.

We've put together a list of ranges we've found fish to be the most active in. This can vary from region to region but this is generally a good starting point—

  • Largemouth Bass: 65-76°F
  • Smallmouth Bass: 64-69°F
  • Striped Bass (Freshwater): 51-71°F
  • Striped Bass (Saltwater): 56-69°F
  • Musky & Northern Pike: 61-66°F
  • Catfish: 69-73°F
  • Walleye: 41-46°F
  • Crappie & Yellow Perch: 69-73°F
  • Trout: 53-65°F

You may still see fishing success outside of those ranges by a few degrees. However, those temperature ranges are what we've seen with normal feeding patterns.

Can air pressure affect when fish bite?

Of course, air pressure can affect when and where fish bite. High air pressure typically slows down fishing, while low pressure often speeds it up. Low pressure usually occurs before and during when a storm front moves in, which can cause the barometric pressure to drop.

This triggers a feeding response from many species of fish as they sense the changes in the atmosphere and go into an aggressive feeding mode. You can usually tell when this happens because the fish will become very active in the water and start biting almost anything that's presented.

High pressure, on the other hand, often causes a decrease in activity for many fish species as they look for shelter or rest areas instead of actively feeding. Higher barometric pressure is also accompanied by clear skies and relatively decent weather. While that's great for you and me, it's not for the fish.

Starting to see a pattern here?

Whether it's the barometric pressure or the light rain and cold weather that comes with it, fish are going to be affected by the weather. That's why it's important to pay attention to the forecast and plan your fishing trip accordingly. When you understand how different fishing conditions can affect when fish bite, you'll be able to increase your chances of a successful outing.

Does rain affect saltwater fishing?

Rain doesn't only affect lake fishing, but it also affects saltwater fishing. Some fish species may react differently to rain than others, but generally speaking, the same principles apply here too.

While rain can make it harder for anglers to spot fish due to the added turbidity from runoff, keep in mind that the fish are getting amped up for feeding.

This is especially true if you're on a shallow water surface, like in a sound or bay. The heavy rain can push baitfish closer to the surface and make them more accessible to predators like grouper, mackerel, and striped bass.

Tips for rain fishing.

To help you make the most of your fishing trip and increase your chances of catching fish, we've put together a few tips to help you out.

Identify the fish you're targeting.

All too often anglers head out and cast their lures without having a clue as to what kind of fish they’re targeting. Knowing the species you're after will allow you to choose the right bait, size and presentation. For example, if you're targeting bass after a good rain storm, you might want brighter plastic worms to present to them in the muddy water.

Fishing after rain opposed to fishing in the rain.

If you're paying attention to the weather, you'll want to fish after the rain opposed to fishing in the rain. Sure, you wear rain gear and catch bass and other fish, but most fish are going to go into a fishing frenzy after the storm. That's because the runoff from the rain has caused the water to become more turbid, and the increased levels of oxygen have activated the fish's feeding mode. So if you can wait until after the storm, you may be able to get into some really good fishing.

Be prepared for a variety of conditions.

Rain storms can range from a light drizzle to heavy downpours in minutes. This is particularly true when you're out in the deeper water of the ocean. So be prepared and closely monitor the weather patterns. We've seen many anglers get into trouble as they tried to continue fishing through some treacherous storms.

Fish the shorelines after a rain.

While rain does affect fishing, it affects it the most near the shorelines. That's because the runoff introduces cooler water to the environment and brings in various bugs and other meals for the fish. Smaller fish come in for the runoff and the big fish (predatory fish), come in looking for a meal for the smaller fish. Whether you're fishing in a boat or from the shore, you'll see fish behavior change the most around the shoreline.

Water Runoff After a Rain Storm
The water runoff after a rain storm delivers plenty of food for fish.

Fishing in the rain questions and answers.

We've put together a brief FAQ to help you answer some of your most pressing questions. After all, our fishing experts get a lot of questions from our readers about fishing in the rain.

Is it best to fish before or after rain?

From our experience, it is best to fish after the rain. Fish become very active after a storm as they look for food in the runoff and warmer water temperatures.

Can you still catch fish during a light rain?

Yes, light rainfall can actually be beneficial for fishing as it brings cooler water to the surface, which can attract small baitfish and trigger feeding activity among larger predatory fish.

Is fishing good the day after rain?

It can be, but typically within 24 hours after the rain, the fish's activity will have returned to normal levels. However, the day after heavy rain can also be prime time for fishing as the runoff is still present, and fish are looking for food in the murky waters.

Can you fish during a thunderstorm?

It's not advisable to cast your line out during a thunderstorm due to the danger posed by lightning. As a precaution, it's best to wait until the storm passes before you resume fishing. There's not enough benefit to fishing in a thunderstorm.

Is rain good or bad for fishing?

Rain is great for fishing! When it rains, runoff brings in oxygenated water, which increases the bug population and attracts larger fish looking for a meal. Additionally, rainwater can have a cooling effect on the water temperature, which is beneficial to fish. So don't let a little rain stop you from getting out there and having a great day of fishing.

How do you fish after heavy rain?

Fish near the shoreline with topwater lures, spinnerbaits, or crankbaits. If you want to try out some deeper waters, use a drop-shot rig with soft plastics and work your way around the structure. However, we recommend the shallow areas near the shore. Keep an eye out for areas where the runoff is entering the water, as these are prime spots for catching larger fish. If you have a drainpipe that directs water in from the surrounding areas, this is a great spot to target.

Catch the big fish during some after-rain fishing!

Fishing after rain can be an incredibly rewarding experience as long as you plan ahead.

With the right strategy and knowledge of how fish behave in different weather conditions, you’ll have no trouble finding plenty of big catches during your next fishing trip.

The runoff from heavy rains brings oxygenated waters, which attract larger fish looking for food - making this one of the most effective times to go fishing.

Grab your gear and head out there; who knows what kind of trophy catch is waiting for you?

John Malcolm

John Malcolm

Expert Angler

John is a highly skilled angler with over two decades of experience and a passion that has led him to participate in numerous tournaments, including reeling in a remarkable 9lb bass on Lake Okeechobee. His dedication to fishing and willingness to share his expertise make him a respected ambassador for the angling community, inspiring others to appreciate the sport.