You have all the right equipment packed. You have located the perfect fishing spot. You have learned all the necessary things there are to know about fishing. While you might think that you’re ready for your outdoor adventure, you might be missing an essential question: is it the right time to fish?
Even expert anglers would agree that no matter how equipped and skillful you are in fishing, you still need to know when is the best time to go fishing to have a great catch and what conditions you need to examine. You might be wasting your time waiting for the fish to bite without knowing that it’s way deep down the water because you are fishing during the wrong time of the day.
In this article, we will examine when is the best time to go fishing to guide you when to go out for your desired catch. We will elaborate on what time of the day varieties of fish are usually easier to catch, the effect of the season in your outdoor fishing activity, and the weather conditions that you need to consider when you go fishing.
Time of the Day
Fish are not accessible twenty-four hours of every day, so you have to make sure that you are in perfect timing when you decide to fish. One important thing that you need to consider is the time of the day, for it usually dictates the temperature. Because fish are cold-blooded, the water temperature around them highly affects their activities. When it is too cold, they become inactive. However, when it is too hot, they go deeper to stay cool. Also, temperature affects the activities of their prey. This is why when bugs are active when the air is warm, fish become active as well because they feed on them.
So, what time of the day is it more appropriate to go fishing? What happens when you fish in the morning? What should you expect when you fish in the afternoon?
1. Fishing in the Morning
When morning sunlight hits the shallows, it warms them and makes their temperature more comfortable for other fish. The sunlight is not too sweltering so fish could go close to the surface for warmth and to feed on small fish. At this time, it would be better if you use lures that stay on the surface for a better catch.
2. Fishing in the Afternoon
During this time, the heat of the sun is usually scorching, making the fish explore the deeper parts of the water where the temperature is cooler. The light level also affects the behavior of the fish, so they do not usually stay on the surface during this time of the day. Other factors that affect their activity and make them swim deeper during midday are the low level of oxygen on the surface and the increasing wind. While you can still go fishing during this time, you have to make sure that you’re using deep fishing lures and baits that could sink deeper.
3. Fishing During Late Afternoon
Like early morning, sunlight during this time is not very harsh, so fish usually go back to the surface. This can be a good time for fishing, too, but the environment becomes darker so you might need a flashlight in order to see.
You notice that it’s a matter of knowing the right timing, the right temperature, and the right light level in order to know during what time of the day you should go out to fish. You see that this also dictates the correct tools to bring and the right things to prepare.
Consider Different Seasons
While there are certain factors that tell us what time of the day is best for fishing, you also have to know what season of the year it is. Fishing in the morning, afternoon, or late afternoon differs from one season to another, as, again, temperatures change, therefore affects fish activities. Let us examine these three seasons and what happens in the morning, midday, and early evening when you go fishing at a particular season.
- Early Morning – Fish don’t usually bite early mornings of spring, as the temperature is initially too cold and could not penetrate the shallows. After that, wait for about a week and the temperature will even out, allowing you to fish effectively.
- Late Morning – Midday – During this time, fish bites are on and off, as sunbeams start to penetrate the water. It begins to warm up, making it more suitable for the fish. The right spot for fishing here is the downwind shoreline, for warmer surface water will be pushed to the wind in that area along with surface food fish usually feed on.
- Late Afternoon – Early Evening – You expect fish to eat a lot during this time due to their cranked digestion and metabolism. This means that at this time of the day during spring, they usually look for food. With the sun overhead, water is also a lot warmer.
- Early Morning – It is advisable to go fishing right before sunrise and right before mid-morning. However, because foods are abundant during this time, it might be difficult to find hungry fish who would be attracted to your bait.
- Late Morning – Midday – Because it is summer, heat is too harsh during the afternoon. This is not the best time for fishing because fish are usually deep underwater trying to find a more comfortable temperature.
- Late Afternoon – Early Evening – As water becomes cold again, it is best to fish when the sun begins to set, and when it starts to get dark. Fish move the surface during this time, so bring your appropriate lure.
- Early Morning – Like in spring, fish do not usually bite at this time of the day. It is too cold on the surface and the sun cannot penetrate the water easily. Fish usually look for warmer areas for comfort. You would have to wait a few more hours until late morning when fishing is more appropriate.
- Late Morning – Midday – Fall is a cool season, which means that from late morning to early afternoon, fish bites are also on and off in areas when water is shallow. You could try using lures that sink down the deep to catch fish.
- Late Afternoon – Early Evening – This is one of the best moments to fish! Water on the surface is just right for the fish, so, fishing would not be too difficult during this time. As they bulk up for the winter, fishing is great during the late afternoons and early evenings of fall.
Consider Weather Conditions
Now that you know the right time to fish for every season, you also need to know the appropriate weather conditions when you decide to fish. There are many weather factors that dictate when you should fish, how you should fish, and where you should fish.
Wind direction greatly affects the success of your fishing. Not only does it direct when to fish, but it also tells you the best area where you could get a great catch. Water and surface foods are pushed by the wind towards the shore. With this, if you fish on the shore, you have to be at the spot the wind is blowing towards (against the wind). This is where most fish cluster. Fishing from a boat would require you to follow the wind direction. This way, you are also following the direction of surface food and, in effect, the direction of the fish you desire to catch.
2. Notice the storm
The time when fish usually feed is affected by the storm. Before a cold front, feeding usually increases. When the storm happens, or after a storm, however, feeding activity is lesser. This is why you would want to avoid fishing after a storm or cold front, or even several days after it, for fish don’t usually feed during this time. Warm fronts, however, increases surface water temperature, also increasing feeding activity among fish. Stay on or close to warm surfaces for a more effective catch.
3. Read the clouds
When it is cloudy, not much light penetrates the water. This may be a disadvantage during the morning but in the afternoon, this becomes helpful in fishing for fish that could still stay on the surface because of the warm temperature. During this time, fish would look for more food because when it is too bright, they would be hiding underwater. However, you have to note that they do not cluster in a specific area. They might be scattered across waterways.
4. Fish during light rain
It may sound counterintuitive, but it is efficient to fish during light rain. The reason is that the fish could not see very clearly through the water as raindrops break the surface. It helps you hide and could make your lure more deceiving. Fishing baits and insects are also washed by the rain into the water where fish feed. This could be helpful if you fish on the shore.
5. Do not fish during a hard rain
Hard rain, aside from making the waters unsafe for fishing, also makes it difficult for the fish to see your bait or your lure. The heavy runoff rains could also clog the gills of the fish. This also results in a strong current flow that would prevent the fish from maintaining a comfortable position, so do not expect to catch fish on a particular spot.
Other Things to Consider
Aside from the time, season, and weather conditions, here are some other important things that you need to consider in fishing.
The rising and falling of the tides usually result in the movement of most fish. This is also the best time for feeding most coastal fish. Lesser water movements during the actual high tide and low tide usually make fishing harder. Fishing during high tide means looking for shallower spots while fishing during low tide means fishing near a slough where there is a spot with a depression in the bottom.
2. Bug activities
As mentioned above, the activities of the fish are connected with the activities of their prey which mainly consists of bugs. Because smaller fish feed on insects and game fish feed on these smaller fish, following the bugs, or looking for spots where bugs are abundant, is, in effect, also chasing after game fish. Look for a hatch of flies or cluster of mosquitoes as these spots usually have the fish you want to catch.
3. Examine the moon
Many anglers check the moon when they go fishing. This is because the moon has control over the tide. Of course, you can easily tell if it’s high tide or low tide by just looking at the water. However, examining the movement of the moon would be of great help. During full moons or when the moon is closer to the earth, fish are abundant and the water would be in great fishing condition. Lunar calendars are just one google away, so checking the moon should not be a major problem.
4. Be familiar with the fish you are catching
Not all fish are the same, so not all fish are best to catch at the same particular time. They may be comfortable with a different temperature or they may be close to the surface at a different time of the day. Some fish are better to be caught at night, while some would be very difficult to catch in the afternoon. Doing a little research about the type of species you particularly want to catch could help you a lot.
Fishing requires skill, and at the same time, it requires knowledge of the movement of the water, temperature, weather conditions, and behavior of the fish. Whether you’re doing it for recreation or for the money, it is very important to have all this essential knowledge about fishing. You need a great plan before you go fishing, and you need to identify when is the best time to execute your plan.