Fishing Before or After the Rain – Which is Best? (Here’s the Answer)


So, you are planning a trip, and the forecast says the heavens will open. That’s game over, right? No, not necessarily.

Depending on several factors, rain can actually be good for your fishing. And remember, the fish are wet already, so it might not be as bad as you think.

Today, I will look at fishing before or after rain, explain what happens during these times and their effect on your fishing. Make sure you bring your best fishing raincoat!

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Fishing Before or After Rain – Which is Best?

The true answer is that it depends on several factors.

Rainfall during fishing affects several things. The interaction between these things makes all the difference as to whether (pun intended) the fish are biting or not.

I’ve always found that I catch more fish after it has rained. But this can vary dependent on the venue, the species, and the season.

Let’s take a look at how rainfall can affect your fishing.

man wearing green raincoat jacket and fishing on rainy autumn day

How Rain Affects Your Fishing

Water Temperature

You’d be amazed at home much water actually falls during your average rainstorm!

Want some numbers?

For a lake area of about one half-acre, with a storm dropping about an inch of rain, that lake has just received…

Wait for it…

About 13,577 gallons of water.

Yeah, that’s a lot.

That addition of water is going to affect the water temperature.

Why is that important?

Fish are cold-blooded creatures. Their metabolism and body temperature are entirely regulated by the water around them. If that temperature goes up, they get warmer and more active. If that temperature drops, they turn all cold and sluggish.

So rain is bad, right?

Nope. If the water was too warm, it could cool it sufficiently to switch the fish back to feeding mode.

This depends on the season, but generally, the odd rain shower is no bad thing in summer! Remember, the rain will nearly always bring the water temperature down. If it’s cold, rain isn’t going to make the water any warmer. If the water is already warm, this will bring a significant reduction in temperature.

Air Pressure

You’ll normally tend to find that when there is low pressure, fish tend to feed less.

And without turning this into a meteorological debate, you need to know this.

Low pressure brings rain. High pressure brings those blue-sky days.

Fish regulate their depth using something called a swim bladder. This is a tiny sack full of air that they inflate and deflate to alter their buoyancy. During low-pressure days, this swim bladder inflates more, causing discomfort.

Why is this important?

The fish tend to stay down deeper during low-pressure days. They also tend to feed less. You can get to them if you are wading. While your bottom half might be dry, you still need something to cover you up top. Have a quick check of my article on the best wading jackets!

But, there is light on the horizon. Whenever there is a change in pressure, fish tend to feed more actively. One of the times the pressure changes most quickly is immediately following a rainstorm!

High-pressure days can be troublesome too. Normally the air is very still, and there is bright sunshine.

And here’s the thing.

Fish hate bright sunlight. It opens them up to predatory attacks. Also, they don’t have eyelids, so they will tend to seek shade.

Air pressure and weather can get a little complex. Here’s a quick video that will explain it in really easy to understand terms:

Cloud Cover

It’s a simple fact that if it is going to rain, there are clouds around. Clouds block direct sunlight, meaning the fish will be much more active.

The best days to fish can often be overcast days without rain. But that said, if there are a few passing showers, it is still well worth going fishing.

Water Visibility

Remember when we told you how much water makes its way into even the smallest lake during a heavy rainstorm?

When it rains heavily, the water becomes churned up, and visibility reduces.

If you are fishing for a sight-oriented species, then it will make it more difficult to locate your hook bait. Conversely, you’ll find that scent feeders aren’t put off quite as much if the water has been churned into a muddy mess.

Oxygenation Levels

One of the downsides of prolonged sunny periods (found in high-pressure days) is that the water becomes still, stagnant, and deoxygenated. You might also get algal blooms that further reduce the oxygen in the water.

If this happens, the fish stop feeding and rest (just like you would if you struggled to breathe).

In this case, rainfall can be a good thing. It mixes the water layers and introduces oxygen back into the system. When the water is ‘refreshed’ in this way, it can trigger a feeding frenzy shortly after a heavy shower.

fisherman standing in the lake and catching the fish during rain

Flow and Current

Remember, the rain isn’t just falling on the lake. It could be falling for miles around you too. This groundwater will flow down to the lake or river and make its way in through tributaries.

More water flowing through a given area causes one thing.

Increased flow and current, particularly in rivers. This can have a couple of effects.

Some species take advantage and enjoy the fact that more food is being washed towards them. But others prefer to save their energy and hunker down until the flow has subsided.

Rain Intensity and Vibration

I’ve always found that the fish tend to bite more during a rainstorm, especially when fly fishing. Now nobody knows what the fish are thinking, but here are some theories as to why this happens:

Drumming raindrops stimulate the fish’s lateral line. Many predatory species can sense vibration. The vibration of the raindrops on the water causes the fish to be ‘tuned in’ to looking for food as they get confused.

Raindrops break up the surface, making it harder to spot the line. Fish can often see your line, but the churning effect of raindrops on the surface disguises it, making them much more likely to bite.

man fishing from boat in the rain

Is it Better to Fish Before or After Rain (The Benefits of Each)

So, you want to know which is best? Here are the advantages to both. Is it good to fish after rain? Absolutely!

Fishing Before Rain – The Advantages

  • Better water clarity.
  • Warmer water temperature.
  • Increased cloud cover.
  • Less current and flow.

Fishing After Rain – The Advantages

  • Decreased water clarity (good for hiding line).
  • Lower water temperature.
  • Clearer skies.
  • More fish activity.

What is the Best Weather to Fish?

The best weather for fishing is neither too sunny nor too rainy.

I’m not non-committal.

I find the perfect day for fishing is one where it is cloudy but with little chance of rain. The slightly darker conditions mean that the fish will be up and feeding. It is likely not a high-pressure day if it is cloudy, as clear skies cause fish to seek shelter.

With cloudy days, you’ll often get the odd sunny spell too. Giving you the best of both worlds!

My advice would be to avoid going to extremes of either end of the scale.

You really want to avoid clear, bright, and sunny conditions. Likewise, you probably won’t catch too much if there is a torrential downpour. Somewhere in the middle is optimal.

That said, you always want to be prepared. Even a quick shower can spoil your day if you aren’t prepared. Why not head over to my article on the best rain gear for fishing and get kitted out!

fishing rods and dip net closeup in rain

Do Fish Bite Better Before or After a Storm?

In my opinion, I have always found it better to fish after a rainstorm. Provided that the water hasn’t been too churned up, I find the fish more active and ready to feed.

This is for the following reasons:

  • More food has been washed into the water. Meaning there is more to tempt them into feeding.
  • There is more oxygen in the water. This again encourages the fish to be more active.
  • The water is slightly more colored. This means the fish are less cautious and less likely to spot my line.
  • The temperature of the water is lower. In summer, especially this ‘refresh’ of the water often encourages a period of feeding.
  • Once it rains, the air pressure tends to rise following a storm. If the air pressure goes up, so does feeding activity.

Don’t get me wrong.

You can still catch fish before a rainstorm. But I find it is better to fish following a rainstorm than just before it. If you are going to go hardcore and fish in the rain, you’ll need to do a few things differently. Check out my dedicated guide.

Conclusion

Fishing before or after rain can vary depending on the species, the conditions, and the venue. Sometimes rain can bring an improvement, and sometimes it can turn the fish off.

The best way to learn is to experiment and see what works. Who knows, you might be surprised?

Which have you found the best? Fishing before the rain, or after? Let me know in the comments below!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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