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The Best Time to Fish? Read the Weather

The best time to fish is when you can. Yeah, I've heard that one, too. It's true, and the more often you go the better chance you've got to catch fish. The list of ways to predict best fishing times is long, but here are 4 quick lessons to get you started.

How Weather Determines Best Time to Fish

  • East winds. "Wind from the east, fishing is least, wind from the north, blows the fish forth, wind from the west, fishing is best, and winds from the south blows the lure in their mouth." That's mostly true, for the saying draws on barometric pressure. High pressure, fish eat, low pressure, fish take cover due to impending bad weather. There are some exceptions to the rule, such as fishing on a beach that faces East. East winds stack striped bass and bluefish at your boots, and since it concentrates baitfish there is usually a feeding frenzy.
  • Barometric pressure. Fish predict marine weather patterns far more reliably than the groundhog in February. They know when bad weather is approaching so they feed heavily before it hits. They'll sulk for a while, and a few days after the storm passes and the pressure rises they go back to feeding. Look for fish to feed more aggressively during a barometric pressure change and you'll catch 'em up.
  • Skyrocketing change. These days we see a lot of dramatic weather conditions: no rain for a month and then 4-5 inches in a day. Dramatic pressure changes can shut off fishing. Steady pressure and good marine weather for extended time might not produce the best fishing times for big catches. But, they tend to offer a consistent bite that is pretty good.
  • Clouds and rain. Clouds and light rain provide stealthy conditions. Bright sun can make fish skittish, but cloud cover gives fish a sense of comfort. A light rain decreases visibility and fish can't give your offerings a closer look. Heavy rain can shut off stream and river fishing as the water table rises quickly and the fish trade heavy currents for slower ones. It's not bad in the ocean or on lakes and ponds provided that you're careful wading or boating.

If you're fishing in foul weather be sure to use extra safety precautions from PFDs and other boat safety equipment.


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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.