Fishing in the Rain: 10 Tips for Wet Weather Success

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Fishing can be a relaxing and exciting way to spend your day or weekend. But when the weather changes and the rain sets in on your next fishing trip, you might think it’s time to leave the lake and head home. 

But does rain change your chances of landing big fish? Let’s take a closer look at how rainy weather affects fishing and how you can increase your success rate at catching that next trophy when fishing in the rain.

Is Fishing Better When It Is Raining?

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In order to maximize your chances of success, it is crucial to understand how the weather influences your fishing experience.

When it’s raining, your fishing trip success can be improved in a few different ways. Though this will depend on factors such as the location you are fishing, the time of year, the barometric pressure, and the ambient temperatures.

Most fish in ponds, lakes, and reservoirs will avoid bright sunlight and look for shaded areas, shadows from rock piles and bluffs, or go deeper to avoid most light penetration. During a rainstorm, cloud cover moves in and blocks a lot of the light which brings more fish up to the surface and out from cover.

Rain affects the water temperature during the summer as well, causing fish to be more active and start a feeding frenzy while searching for food while also increasing the amount of oxygen in the water.

Most fish, especially those in smaller bodies of water, will become very sluggish if water temperatures get too high due to the reduction in the amount of dissolved oxygen. Their behavior will also be affected by the barometric pressure and the atmospheric pressure around them.

If you were already fishing in a muddy or stained lake, rain and falling pressure might not help your situation. In fact, it could end up making it worse since the poor weather forecast can make an already muddy lake even muddier. This makes it difficult for sight-based fish to find your lure, which could reduce the number of strikes you were already getting.

1. Fish the Topwater Areas

Instead of fishing more towards the bottom, when light rain starts, switch to a more topwater technique with your lures. Fish will most likely be moving towards the upper water levels and surface of the water to search for insects and small animals that may have fallen into the lake during the light rain.

In the summertime, fish will also move towards the surface in order to find a higher concentration of oxygen as well as cooler temperatures when the barometric pressure drops. If you’re finding it difficult to get bites on your lure during the summer after the water temperature rises, try waiting for rain and then fishing in the upper areas of the water column.

2. Use an Active Fishing Technique

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When the fish are active, they may be in shallower water feeding near the surface. This makes the fish more sensitive to the smell of the bait.

Use a faster technique when you are fishing in the rain. You want to use a technique that can get the attention of fish that have a lot of additional visual stimulation from the rain falling and churning up the water. Most fish will be aggressively feeding during this time and will be willing to take your bait during light and heavy rain.

Using rapid movements with your lure, making it zig and zag around, doing flips, or punching it through surface vegetation can really excite fish and make them strike quickly. While you can still get bites using a slow and steady technique, most anglers have better luck catching larger fish with faster movements and more aggressive rod jerks and pops.

3. Attach Bright Colored Lures

While your normal sunny weather kit might include natural colored lures and live bait, you want to switch it up during low barometric pressure and rainy conditions and go for bright colors, reflective glitter or spoons, and lures that make some noise such as chatterbaits and crankbaits.

Since the rainy days will make the water muddy and cloudy, a fish’s vision will be impaired. Having bright-colored lures that contrast well with the darker and murky water is a great way to ensure they can see your presentation.

4. Wear the Right Clothing

Just as you would dress for sunny days or winter, it’s important to dress for rain as well. Preparing yourself to remain warm and dry will help ensure you can enjoy your time outdoors without feeling miserable the entire time or catching a cold.

Waterproof clothing such as a rain jacket and outdoor waterproof boots is a great start. You also want to consider wearing waders or thick pants to help prevent your legs from getting soaked through.

Many anglers will bring extra clothing along with them just in case they get a little damp or happen to step in a puddle their boots couldn’t protect their feet from. This helps prevent chafing and rashes from the excess moisture on your skin.

It’s also highly recommended that you wear gloves when it’s raining. Not only will your rod and other equipment get damp and slippery, but it will also be more difficult to safely hold fish. If you are fishing for catfish or other species that have sharp dorsal spines, having gloves can prevent any accidents.

5. Be Safe in Wet Conditions

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When fishing in wet weather, always have rain gear on hand or other items that can protect you from the weather and cold.

While rain is fine to fish in, you should always avoid weather conditions that include lightning or extremely high wind. This can create unsafe or even downright dangerous conditions for you and any other anglers you bring along with you.

When fishing in the rain, be sure you wear shoes or boots with good traction. Whether you are fishing from the shoreline, a dock, or a boat, you don’t want to slip and fall on damp surfaces. Boots with good traction will have thick treads that can grip wooden dock surfaces, boat decks, or rocks as you are standing on them near the shoreline during your next trip.

6. Use a Jitterbug or Buzz Bait for Bass

Bass will get extremely active when it starts to rain and will continue to be active throughout a heavy downpour. If you are targeting bass, they will go absolutely wild for a jitterbug lure or a buzz bait. 

Bass are opportunistic feeders and have been seen eating everything from smaller fish to small birds and rodents that have fallen into the water. These fish react to sound and vibrations just as much as they do to the visual aid, so if you toss a lure in the water that looks and sounds appealing, they will strike with vigor.

7. Experiment With Lures for Trout

When fishing for trout in the rain, this is the perfect time to experiment with different presentations and techniques. Trout let their guard down when it’s raining and will be much more willing to take a lure or bait that is moving differently than they may be accustomed to.

Some anglers believe that trout won’t bite in the rain, when in fact, these fish will absolutely take a new and unique lure or fly without hesitation. Their senses are overloaded when it’s raining, so it may take a larger or more brightly colored fly to get their attention.

8. Use Reflective Lures for Panfish

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Reflective lures reflect sunlight making it shine and more alluring to fish below the surface.

Panfish are very attracted to glistening and reflective colors. If you have a lure that is mirrored, metallic, or iridescent, you should definitely give it a try in the rain when fishing for panfish. Spoons and blades are also a great choice as they are highly reflective.

Being able to reflect even the smallest amount of light will get most panfish excited about striking your lure. This reflective and shiny lure mimics the scales of smaller prey fish such as minnows, shad, and more. 

9. Go Deep and Slow for Walleye

Walleye love low light conditions, but unlike some other fish, walleye will stay in the deeper water during a rainstorm. In this case, use lures that drop low but move slowly. Walleye are not highly aggressive or excitable like bass during rain, so they will take their time to inspect a lure before they strike it.

Using natural-looking lures will work for walleye, though brighter colors and reflective lures will also be quite successful. Techniques that walleye will respond to include bottom hops and stop-and-go reeling.

10. Fish in the Shallows for Pike

Pike is an extremely aggressive and active fish during the rain, and while they can still be caught in the deeper parts of the lake, pond, or reservoir, heading to the shallows might be your best bet. 

These fish are highly predatory, and since the rain makes other smaller species more active, pike will be heading to the shallows in search of food. It’s not uncommon to drop a creature bait into the water and haul in a pike within a few short minutes.

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Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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