One of the biggest mistakes anglers can make is leaving the water at any sight of rain. No, it’s not always comfortable to fish in, but the quality of fishing that can occur in the midst of it is hard to beat.
It’s important to watch out for your safety, but a little inclement weather can get the fish moving in ways that few other environmental factors can. As long as you’re prepared and have an idea of different techniques, you’ll be in good shape.
15 Essential Tips When Fishing In The Rain
Is it good to fish in the rain? The answer is definitely yes! There are fewer anglers fishing, putting less pressure on the fish, and it’s the time when natural food sources are more abundant in the water column.
Let’s go into the reasons why you should fish in the rain and why it can be actually better!
Check Your Barometer Before You Go
Every angler looks at the weather forecast before they go fishing. If you are unsure if a storm is brewing, check out your barometer before you leave.
Barometers will give all the information you need regarding weather changes. Pressure changes affect fish behavior, especially their feeding patterns and where they prefer to move.
First and foremost, you will want to ensure you’re wearing the proper waterproof clothing when fishing in the rain. You can fish through an entire rainfall if the rain doesn’t intensify into something dangerous. A high-quality rain jacket, a rain hat, and a decent pair of waders or waterproof pants and shoes can make your life more comfortable.
If the weather is warm, you can tough it out with a rain jacket and shorts, but rain usually means a drop in temperature. It’s smart always to keep some rain gear in your vehicle. You never know when a rainstorm can appear, and you don’t want to leave the water as soon as it happens!
If you are new to wading, check out my article on wade fishing for beginners, which includes many safety tips and the best wading gear.
Try Surface Baits
Since the rain is disturbing the water’s surface, fish are looking up in anticipation. If you skim a topwater bait over the surface, you can get a fish to bite. Rain makes fish a bit more disoriented, so you have a chance of getting bites using a topwater even if it’s not the usual time of day or year when they feed on top.
The fish are roaming in search of food, and an active topwater can easily attract their attention and cause them to strike.
Move Around To Cover More Area
Unless the fish continue biting in a certain area, staying in your typical hot spot is unnecessary. Fish are willing to move when rain hits the water. It clouds certain areas and allows fish to feed all over the lake or river. Find different seams, pools, areas of structure, or any other “fishy” looking areas.
If you aren’t finding fish in an area, don’t be afraid to move on and try somewhere new. Right before and after rainstorms are usually prime feeding times for fish, so you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to land them. If you have your usual few areas you cover, start there and then branch out and see what other areas you can find. It takes time, but you‘ll eventually find them.
Fish Faster In The Rain
Again, fish feed due to rain, so you don’t have to do your usual slow retrieval tactics. They’re looking to fill up as quickly as possible in the midst of or right before the rain. Food is plentiful and all over the place, so they’re looking to strike and strike quickly.
Increase your retrieval speed, and see what happens. If the faster pace doesn’t work, feel free to change up the speed at which you retrieve it. Fast and then slow or slow and then fast can help you determine what the fish want.
Fish Before The Rainstorm
You’ll start seeing an increase in feeding activity right before a storm hits. The low barometric pressure excites fish and gets them moving. They know something is about to hit, so they go into an almost panic-feeding mode.
Don’t waste time trying to make the perfect cast when this occurs! Get your bait in the water, and let it do the work. They aren’t as picky as usual, so you can land fish in a way you otherwise wouldn’t.
Fish Runoff Areas
Any sewer, runoff stream, or overflow area pouring water into the lake or river is a great place to fish. These areas usually produce a massive amount of food for the fish! Fish will stack near these areas and eat everything they possibly can.
Worms, grubs, insects, and other nutrients are plentiful in these areas! Fish know where to look once the rain starts falling. Park yourself near one of these and try to match your bait with something they’ll likely see! Finding it may take a couple of bait switches, but you will.
Fish Under Trees
Rain and wind will create areas around overhanging trees where insects will fall. These areas are likely to hold fish looking for free food, and the branches will give the fish some protection from the heavy downpours.
Another benefit for anglers is the water surface is less turbulent, which allows an easier view of the fly as it drifts down the river.
Fish The Storm Pushed Banks
The windblown shoreline is a great place to spend time after the storm has passed. Wherever the storm was blowing into is where the food would be accessible. Everything that the fish are going to want to eat is accessible here! Odds are, you won’t have to try overly hard to get fish to bite.
Worms, baitfish, grubs, crayfish, and almost everything else will be there. It’s hard for these smaller baits to withstand the power of the water crashing into the shore. It takes time for the lake or river to regulate itself after the weather has blown through the area. Keep it simple on the wind-blown shoreline! Fish don’t want to have to work overly hard.
Look For Fish Near Structures
Cover and structure are different. Cover is things like weeds and small tree laydowns! These get blown around in a storm and move around as the water level increases. Structures are things like boulders or submerged tree fields. These aren’t going to move due to some rain or a storm! Fish will continue to hang near these areas as long as there is food nearby.
Bait and food will also flock toward these areas during inclement weather. The fish that don’t want to cover all sorts of water will stay where they usually do: near the structures! If you aren’t finding fish in more open water, return here and see what you can catch.
Avoid fishing during thunderstorms for your safety and the lack of productivity. Water can be an extremely dangerous place to be if the weather turns severe.
Also, the fish aren’t too active during lightning and thunder. They’ll likely move deep and wait out the worst of everything. Take care of yourself and return to the water as soon as everything passes! The fish will start feeding again then.
Change Baits When Fishing In The Rain
Feel free to switch if the baits you’re using aren’t working. Fish feed before, at the beginning, and at the end of rainstorms, so you don’t want to miss any prime feeding times. Alternating out your baits in the rain is key, and keep switching until you find something that works.
Use Noisy and Flashy Baits
Noise and flash are important features that your baits need when fishing during rain. As the rain clouds the water, your bait will need a few more features to catch the fish’s attention! Whether it’s a rattle bait or has a large amount of color, you’ll give yourself a better chance at catching something.
Trout Fishing In The Rain
Trout fishing in the rain can be very prolific. Rain fishing with Nymphs, Streamers, and especially terrestrials is the best option.
The San Juan worm is my first choice for fishing nymphs in the rain. This large red bait shows up nicely in the cloudy water. Another option that works well for trout during downpours is the popular Pats rubber legs (which imitate the stonefly), and its heavy weight makes it a perfect choice for faster-flowing water.
Using streamers in the rain will work best if you mix a bright color, such as chartreuse, against a black or brown. This makes the streamer far more visible. An olive or black woolly bugger is my first choice streamer in the rain.
Falling rain will make insects and bugs drop or get blown from trees onto the water’s surface. Trout are smart and will be looking for terrestrials during rainfall. Mimicking large ants and grasshoppers will likely bring the best results.
After The Rain, Slow Down Your Fishing
After the storm, the fish are more sluggish. They’ve spent a decent amount of time moving all over the water, feeding on everything they can find. Once that frenzy slows, you shouldn’t keep up that fast retrieval pace.
Fish deeper and use vertical baits! Otherwise, jigs, worms, and other soft plastics can still convince fish to feed. It’s hard for them to pass up a good meal. If you’re willing to stay more patient after a storm, you can still catch your fair share of fish.
Fishing In The Rain – Frequently Asked Questions
Do Fish Bite In The Rain?
Yes, fish do bite in the rain and, in fact, probably feed more actively! Coupled with certain hatches, the insects will also be plentiful. It is during this time the fish feel safer. The overhead cover helps them avoid predators, and more importantly, this combined effect will allow them to eat.
Is Bass Fishing Good In The Rain?
Yes, Bass fishing in the rain is one of the best times, as the bass will join the feeding frenzy along with most fish. The usual colorful topwater baits will be the most likely winner when rain clouds the water.
Is It Safe To Fish In The Rain?
Yes, in most cases, fishing in light rain or moderate rain is safe. If you are fishing during heavy rain, there is a risk of the river rising fast, which can cause very strong currents. Torrential rain normally does not last long, so take a break if you feel unsafe.
If you are fishing in lightning and thunderstorms, stopping immediately and finding suitable, safe cover is strongly advised.
Fishing in the rain is a nice change of pace. We often reminisce about those perfect days on the water when the fish can’t stay off our bait. However, you have as good of a chance of catching plenty of fish right before a rainstorm as you do on a sunny evening.
I hope these great tips were useful; consider them next time you are out rain fishing, and you’ll surely catch more fish.
Danny Mooers is a high school English teacher in Arizona with a love for fishing. Growing up in Minnesota gave him the opportunity to experience all types of fishing and grow his skills. After living out in the Western United States for several summers in college, his fishing obsession grew. Having the opportunity to share in his passion for fishing through writing is a dream come true. It's a lifelong hobby and he strives to make it understandable for people of all skill levels.