In the hot, withering days of summer, clear blue skies invite lots of people to the water, including anglers.
But veteran fishermen know that bright sun and cloudless skies can kill the bite, making a fishing trip little more than an exercise in frustration. But when the weather turns cool and clouds move in, they’ll rush to the water for hot fishing.
There are plenty of myths about fishing, but this isn’t one of them.
Do you want to know if fish bite before it rains? If they bite in the rain? How about after the rain?
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Also Read: Best Rain Gear For Fishing
Fishing Before the Rain: Cooling Down for Hot Fishing
I doubt there’s an angler reading this article that doesn’t know that the weather affects the bite. And you’ve probably heard that fishing before a storm can be hyper-productive.
I’m here to tell you that this is true and that there are good reasons for it.
Scientists like Ralph Manns aren’t entirely sure about the mechanism driving increased feeding before a storm, and they cast doubt on the supposition that barometric pressure changes are the primary driver of this change in fish behavior. Instead, they look to a holistic model of the effect of a coming storm, seeing wind, wave action, and cloud cover as more likely explanations of why fish can turn on suddenly.
“We await any scientific information or interpretation that better explains the relationship between gamefish behavior and changes in air pressure, when isolated from the confounding effects of weather conditions,” he explains. “Until a biologically reasonable mechanism is proposed, we think it's more reasonable and likely more accurate to consider weather and sky conditions rather than barometric pressure in explaining fish activity and inactivity.”
What does this mean?
The summer sun and bright blue skies raise water temperatures to the point that bass begin to be stressed. The physiological effects of high temperatures on largemouth bass are well-studied and understood, and there’s simply no question that bass begin to turn off when water temperatures reach about 80 degrees.
Beautiful days signal ugly fishing!
The higher the mercury climbs, the more lethargic largemouth will become, retreating to deep holes and channels to ride out the heat.
Low oxygen levels are also a culprit this time of year, as saturated oxygen levels decrease due to algae overgrowth. Lower dissolved oxygen will also deter feeding, and lots of sun can create a vicious cycle in which water temperatures rise while algae blooms expand, leading to a fish kill.
An incoming storm can change this situation dramatically.
A storm moving in like this means that fishing is about to improve dramatically.
Heavy cloud cover reduces sunlight and brings a rapid decrease in water temperatures. The winds that storms push across your local lake help cool the water, too, just like you do when you blow on your morning coffee.
And the agitation that wind creates dissolves more oxygen in the water.
Together, wind and cloud cover create conditions that are more favorable to bass, breaking their lethargy and heat-induced anorexia. Hungry for a change, they’ll start feeding actively as the weather worsens.
That makes this an awesome time to hit the water!
Gary Dobyns thinks that “this is the time to grab a big jerkbait, a Chatterbait, spinnerbaits, topwater if it isn’t cold, or even a jig – and cover water.”
I couldn’t agree more, and it’s definitely time to go big and aggressive with your presentations.
One of my favorite choices as clouds roll in is Rapala’s X-Rap. Jerking this lure along the usual spots as the wind picks up and the sun disappears is almost always going to yield a big bass.
One option I like to throw when a storm’s really darkening the water is Strike King’s Bleeding Spinnerbait with combo Colorado/Willow blades.
It’s great for situations when the light is as low as dusk or dawn, which frequently happens when a bad storm is blowing.
Fishing During the Rain: Cooling Down for Hot Fishing
The cooling effects of a storm increase dramatically once the rain starts falling, and water temperatures are driven down quickly.
If there’s no lightning, fishing in the rain can be hot.
That can get bass acting like voracious predators again, and they’ll be on the hunt in earnest.
We’ve written about this before, and if you want to know even more about fishing in the rain, check out this article:
Bass Fishing in the Rain: A Few Tips to Make the Most of a Storm
A storm is an ideal time to look for inflows into the main body of your lake or pond. These sudden streams wash prey items into the water, attracting shad, minnows, bluegill, and crappie, and, inevitably, largemouth bass as well.
Anywhere you find a fresh flow of cool water, you’ll find a tiny, storm-created food pyramid with hungry bass at the top!
But keep in mind that the longer and harder the rain, the more sediment, mud, dirt, and debris it carries into the water. This can create murky, muddy conditions that don’t favor the visibility bass prefer to hunt.
As light levels drop from cloud cover and mud, bass will switch to sound and vibration as their primary hunting senses.
When that happens, you want to switch to louder lures and brighten the colors by switching to white and chartreuse. Make your lures as visible as you can, and don’t be shy about day-glo options.
One of my favorite combos for the rain is the ⅜ Ounce Z-Man Original ChatterBait and a Zoom Bait 7-Inch Magnum Super Fluke trailer
It provides plenty of thumping vibration, and the color combo is just perfect for low-visibility situations like this.
Fishing After the Rain: Clouds Remain Your Allies
Once the rain subsides, the muddy water will persist.
But as long as the cloud cover holds, the newly oxygenated and colder water will support active feeding - at least if you know where to look!
Muddy water and lots of clouds will still support acceptable largemouth fishing.
Bass aren’t big fans of water the color of peanut butter, though they will be spurred to activity by relief from low dissolved oxygen levels and heat stress.
You’ll find them in the more clear areas of your lake, river, or pond, where they’ll be actively hunting structure and cover for bait fish. They may still congregate near inflows, too, at least as long as they’re still washing prey items into the main water body.
You’ll need to stay focused on vibration and sound, and I prefer whites, bright pinks, and chartreuses when visibility is super low.
As long as the sun stays hidden, expect the fishing to be acceptable for largemouth, but species like smallmouth will turn off entirely in muddy water.
But when the clouds disappear and the sun returns to heat the water, the fishing will decline as the water temperature rises. So when the heat turns on, the fishing will inevitably turn off.
Fishing before and during a storm can be magical as lower temperatures, and more dissolved oxygen will encourage big bass to feed.
And while it might be tempting to hit the water on bright, sunny days, beautiful weather typically signals ugly fishing.
We hope that you’ve learned something from this article today, and as always, we’d love to hear from you.
Please leave a comment below!