Fishing After Rain Or Before: Which Is Better?

Many anglers know that fishing in rainy weather can be hit or miss when it comes to landing those big fish. Some fishermen really enjoy fishing before a big storm …

Many anglers know that fishing in rainy weather can be hit or miss when it comes to landing those big fish. Some fishermen really enjoy fishing before a big storm moves in since fish will be much more active, while others will wait until after the rain to tease fish out from the weed beds.

Whether you are pike, muskie, trout, catfish or bass fishing, tossing your line in the water before or after the rain can provide much different results depending on the season and fish species you are going for.

Is Fishing Good After Rain? 

Fishing after a rain storm passes is normally a poor time to fish for most species, however it can depend on a range of other factors as well including air and water temperature, water clarity, and time of day. Rain will cause the visibility in the water to drop, as well as reduce the temperature drastically. The constant noise of rain falling on the surface of the water can also stress some fish, altering the fish behavior and sending them deeper into the lake..

It can take anywhere from 10 to 48 hours for fish to become adjusted to the new pressures of their water. Many fish species tend to adjust quickly, but pike and muskie can be slower to adapt to the changes after each storm system.

Fishing Before Rain

Before a rainstorm starts, fish will feel the pressure drops in the air and may become highly active as the rain affects the fish’s metabolism. They are normally eager to feed and will aggressively take your bait and lures. If the sun is shining brightly before a storm, try dropping your lure near weed beds, sunken logs, or other cover areas where more fish may be holding up in the shade.

Some of the most active fish prior to a rainstorm will be bass and trout. Pike might also become more active than usual, but will normally stay deeper or under heavier cover. If you want to catch bass, keep in mind they will move into the shallows to search out their next meal which may include minnows, bluegills, perch, and smaller fish.

Fishing in the rain by species:

Bass Fishing After Rain

If you are targeting bass, fishing before the rain starts is when you’ll see the most fish active. Bass fishing results become extremely positive before a rainstorm as the barometric pressure changes, so try taking advantage of this by tossing a buzzbait, jerk baits or a frog lure into the water.

After the storm has passed, bass fishing results will start to drastically slow down and will retreat to deeper water. They may still take some bait, but you will have to work harder to get them interested in it. This is the time when most experienced anglers will call it a day.

Trout Fishing After Rain

During and after a rainstorm is an excellent time to catch trout. The increase of oxygen and cooler water temperatures make trout such as Brook and Rainbow much more active. Experienced anglers recommend fishing near the shore as trout will be targeting the insects washed down by runoff water.

Walleye Fishing After Rain

After a rainstorm, walleye will become much more sluggish and calm. They will retreat to deeper cover and remain still for a good time after the rain has stopped. Some walleye will still be willing to take your bait, however for the best fishing success you will need to cast it much deeper.

Crappie Fishing After Rain

During and after a forecasted storm, crappie show very little interest in most baits or lures and will need some coaxing before they will strike. Casting your lure into deep water near piers or other structures will be your best bet of finding fish. Also, consider using brightly colored lures that contrast with the low visibility in the muddy water.

Catfish Fishing After Rain

Catfish are one of the few fish on this list that become much more active after the rain. Since catfish do not rely on vision as much as other fish, the cloudy and muddy water that comes after a rainstorm is not a problem for them to navigate. However, it can become difficult for their prey to see and avoid predation which makes them an easy meal for hungry catfish. 

Musky Fishing After Rain

Fishing for musky after the rain has stopped may end up being a lesson in patience since these fish will be extremely reluctant to take your bait. In fact, it may take musky up to 48 hours after a heavy rainstorm to adjust to the new changes in the water before they are back to their normal feeding patterns.

Pike Fishing After Rain

Pike can take some time to adjust to the water conditions after a heavy rainstorm, however if you are able to drop your line into fresh water during a light drizzle, you may notice the fish are extremely active and have a massive appetite. While they will not pay much attention to your bait and lures after a rainstorm or in cold water, during a gentle rain they will strike most things with speed and aggression.

How Temperature and Air Pressure Affect Fishing

Temperatures and air pressure play a big role on the productivity and overall success of your fishing trip.

The success of your fishing trip is heavily dependent on both temperatures and air pressure. Warm water can increase the metabolism of small fish, making them hungrier and causing them to actively search for food. However, if the water reaches a temperature that is too hot, oxygenated water is reduced and fish will move deeper to find cooler water and may remain sluggish until oxygen increases again.

Cooler water will have the highest oxygen content which makes it easier for fish to be active, though their appetites may not be as high as if they were in warm water. Additionally, if the water gets too cold, their activity levels will drop as they move into a hibernation torpor.

Air pressure that is low means the oxygen content in the water is higher, and when the pressure in the air is high, oxygen levels in the water are low. In order for fish to be their most active, a few different factors need to be perfect, but oxygen levels play a huge role. Low oxygen in the water makes most bass lethargic and sluggish. They will remain deep or under thick cover and may ignore your bait completely.

When the pressure in the air is low during a rainstorm, more oxygen is in the water. The agitation from the rain falling also helps aerate the clear water. This in turn makes most fish and small prey much more active and willing to feed. Try dropping your lure in the shallow water near the banks and see if you can get a bite.

Understanding the Impacts of Water Temperature

Most anglers will keep an eye on the thermometer to ensure water temperatures are suitable for fishing that day. Whether a storm is nowhere to be seen, or has just moved through the area, water temperature plays a huge role on feeding activity.

Warm water increases fish activity, but also reduces oxygen levels. As the water gets warmer, oxygen levels can drop which in turn will make bass activity much less. Fishing during the hottest days of summer may not get you the best results as fish are conserving oxygen and resting in deeper and cooler water.

Many anglers know there are small windows of temperature where certain species of fish will be most active.

  • Silver and King Salmon: 44-60 Fahrenheit
  • Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Lake Trout: 48-60 Fahrenheit
  • Brown Trout, Walleye, Yellow Perch, Muskie, and Pike: 55-70 Fahrenheit
  • Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass: 60-70 Fahrenheit
  • Crappie and Bluegill: 65-75 Fahrenheit

Air Pressures and Oxygen Levels

The barometric pressure can improve fishing results and most fishermen will keep an eye on their barometer. These pressure changes have a direct impact on how fish behave in ponds, lakes, rivers and even the ocean.

When the barometric pressure falls, such as when a cold front or storm is moving in, fish will be much more active and willing to feed. This is a great time to go fishing since you probably won’t have much trouble getting fish of various species to take your bait.

As the barometric pressure rises, so does the overall pressure of the air. This in turn affects how the water presses on the fish. During this time, such as after a storm has passed and is moving away from the area, fish will not be active at all. They will instead ignore most baits and lures, and instead will seek cover in deeper water or heavy vegetation.

If you don’t have a barometer to measure air pressures, simply use the weather as your guide. If a storm is moving in, the pressure of the air is low which is a great time to toss a line in the water. If the storm has passed, the pressure is rising and fish will be much less active. While you can get fish to bite during this time, it’s a much slower paced experience and you may have to put in more effort for less reward overall.

Does the Intensity of the Rain affect fishing after the rain?

Rainfall can bring along a variety of mud, silt, and other added nutrients in the water that can attracts small and large fishes.

The intensity of rainfall determines your fishing outcome. Rain in general will increase the amount of oxygen in the water, while also stirring up debris and making the water body cloudy. As a result, the behavior of many fish will change depending on how heavy the rainfall is.

All rainfall, whether it is a light drizzle or heavy downpour, can cause runoff water. This is where water from the land runs into the lake or river, bringing along a variety of mud, silt, vegetation, insects, and microorganisms into the water. These added nutrients attracts insects and small baitfish, which in turn can attract the larger targets you are seeking.

What other Weather Conditions affect fishing?

There are other factors related to the weather that can affect fishing including cloud cover, cold and warm fronts, and wind. One of the biggest factors that affect fishing is the cloud cover. Overcast skies will limit the amount of sunlight that can penetrate the water which causes many fish to hold close to underwater structures, vegetation and fallen logs due to the bright conditions.

When talking about cold fronts and warm fronts, the behavior of animals will vary greatly between the two. Cold fronts are a sign that a storm is coming, and the change in pressure and temperature can cause many species to feed aggressively. Warm fronts will increase the air and water temperature, which in turn makes the fishing good as they are more willing to strike your bait.

Wind can be a frustrating weather condition to deal with, though it can be used to your advantage. When the rain stops, use the wind from storm systems to move your bait closer to shore so you can target larger fish seeking their prey baitfish in this area. When fishing from the shore or a pier, cast into the wind and let the breeze move your bait slowly back towards you. 

Final Word on Fishing Either Side of a Rain Storm

Landing a big trophy fish after a warm rain can depend on a range of factors including the water temperatures, pressure of the air, and oxygen levels in the water. You might also notice a lot of difference in how heavy rainstorms affect fish, and whether or not the muddy water makes it difficult for them to find prey.

Fishing before and after a rainstorm is perfectly viable time to catch fish, however you will need to adjust your fishing tactics in order to get a bite. Before a storm, most fish are active and eager to feed, this can continue well into the storm as well. After a heavy rain, however, most fish will become lethargic and may need up to 2 days to adjust to the change in pressure and temperature.

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Donny Karr is a respected fishing writer and passionate fisherman who loves targeting largemouth bass and a range of other species. He's a specialist on using the latest gear and techniques to boost fishing success.
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