07 Jun When is the best time to go fishing
You can choose the best time if the day, week and month to go fishing by just making a few simple checks…and it can make the difference between plenty of Action or nothing at all.
Most beginner anglers, and some seasoned “veterans” go fishing when they feel like it or have a few hours to kill….that’s as far as their planning goes…
….and I must admit that there are times when I can only go when I have some available time….
….but the one thing I always do is work out what the fish will be doing before I leave!
Fish feed according to a number of factors ….and they’re all easy to check.
Just like you and me, fish feel lazy or energetic, sexually alert or disinterested, hungry or no appetite at different times. Unlike you and me a lot of the this is based on the time of the year, the weather, the amount of sun light and the phase of the moon.
I used to think that some of this stuff was absolute crap… after all, how could the moon phase affect anything and why should sunshine matter?
Well, after a lifetime of fishing experience, learning from some top anglers and talking to some national level tournament anglers in the US and UK….I changed my mind!
Trouble is…..there’s a number of reasons why fish bite or don’t bite and when you try to balance them all up….sometimes one thing negates another!
Yes, this can be true….
….but if you know what SHOULD make fish bite, and what doesn’t – you can turn bad days into good days and good days into great days….and know when to not go fishing at all!
So let’s look at what brings fish on the bite, remembering…this ain’t science, it’s kinda’ “ART”!
Most people know that morning and evening are good times to fish…
But why ?
Some experts say that it is the transition time for feeders…
In the morning, the fish that have not fed during the night start early, the bait fish are moving and the predators are chasing them, and the scavengers are searching for anything that landed or floated in over night… If they didn’t feed in the dark, they’ll be on the move.
In the evening, they’ve been quiet, hiding during the daylight hours. As the light drops, the predators go looking for a meal before bed and the scavengers are looking for a snack before they turn out the lights….at least that’s the theory… and it’s been tested… and often works!
Now, is there anything that can mess this whole morning/evening deal up?
Well, for a start …
… water temperatures!
If the water is too cold some fish won’t look for food till it warms up….so for them, dinner time will be the warmest part of the day…so you have to know the preferred feeding temperatures of your target fish. For instance, Australian native fish like Murray cod and Yellow belly will shut down in the cold and you won’t catch unless you drop a lure or bait on their nose. Sometimes they’ll eat ‘cos their hungry and sometimes they’ll bit it ‘cos they’re annoyed!
Other fish, like trout, still work on the morning/evening arrangement….more so in lakes than rivers.
If it gets too hot, many fish will stop feeding and look for deeper, cooler water where they’ll hold out till things get comfortable again.
Soooo…. that’s hot and cold water temperatures…..
…but what about other weather conditions ….especially barometric pressure?
Yep, sounds a bit like “crazy talk” but the barometer has a big impact on fish.
I won’t go into the science (I gave up in my first year of high school) but the biggest impact of barometric pressure, in other words, air pressure is on a fishes swim bladder.
Anyone who has an aquarium has seen their fish hold position in the water…their swim bladder does this.
The reports I’ve read, been told or experienced myself come up with a bit of a pattern in the way air pressure will effect feeding.
Lower pressure, like you get when a storm is coming can really turn the fish on the bite. The predators will hit anything and the scavengers will eat like they just discovered food….but when the storm passes, or the barometer hits bottom, the fish can stop feeding and it seems like they’ve disappeared.
When the pressure starts to rise the fishing improves. It’s not as good as the dropping pressure but it can give you good results. Once air pressure peaks the fishing turns to rubbish…
…too much pressure BAD!
The fish will go into the deeper water and wait. Your fishing will stay slow till you get another pressure movement down.
If you wanted a real simple “guideline” on the barometer it’d be:
- Rising – Good fishing
- Falling- Real good fishing
- Normal or average – Standard fishing
- Steady High or Steady Low – Slow fishing
….but remember, these are guidelines and you can get exceptions…
Like when the pressure’s high but you find a hole or area where the fish are holding… so you manage to pull out quite a few just ‘cos they’ll bite what’s in front of them…
…or the pressure is falling, everything looks good but you get no action ‘cos a shark just swam through or a big cod just chased everything in sight and there’s no fish there!
So, it seems that fish are comfortable at the normal or average barometric pressure and they feed normally at this level. Sudden changes up or down can trigger feeding….but too high a rise or fall will kill the action until the pressure returns to its normal level….and it can take 24 hours for the feeding to return to normal.
Finally, there’s the annual season.
Some fish like the colder months, some like the warmer month and some like ‘em all. Know what your target fish like so you can set yourself up for a good catch.
Spring can bring on a lot of action as fish spawn and at times the activity gets ridiculous. Most species need to feed in preparation and, like my brother-in-law, aren’t picky about what they eat!
So, the fish that like it cold will feed morning and evening, and if the pressure conditions are right they’ll feed through the day.
The fish that like it warm will wait till the water warms a bit later in the day but could do a bit of feeding through the day if the food is in front of them and the barometer is right.
In a hot Summer, the cooler mornings and evenings can be great fishing…
There’s plenty of insects, and animals of all types moving around, the bait fish are everywhere and everything’s hungry. This is when the cold lovers will be most active. If the night air has stayed warm – the warm lovers will be eating.
Autumn is when fish try to fatten up for winter, unlike my brother-in-law who does it all year round.
Just like in spring the fish that like it warm or cold will feed when the temperature suits.
Finally, in winter, the fishing really slows for the warm loving fish and heats up for the cold loving fish. Some anglers who chase Australian natives hang up their fishing gear in winter ‘cos them cod don’t bite!
You have to fish deep water or the upper water layers on sunny days to get action and the fish will be real selective in what they eat.
Trout and Salmon anglers, on the other hand, will be out there chucking lures and bait into the best spots and be cashing in on the biting fish. Once again, morning and evening times when light is changing from dark to light and light to dark should bring best results.
…and just one more thing….the phase of the moon can change this.
On full moon nights, when there’s plenty of light your target fish will be looking for food…
…trouble is – when you go fishing in the morning those fish have full tummies! So they may not start eating again till evening and that’s when you want to chase them.
All a bit confusing?
Don’t worry, it’s not that complicated.
Just do this before you plan your fishing:
What is predicted
- sunny or overcast,
- cold or hot,
- rain or clear
- barometer rising, falling or stable
- full or new moon
- target species active Summer, Winter or all seasons
Answer these questions, work out what your target fish like and you’ll know if you should get out to the water….or stay in bed!
It really does work a lot of the time and the more you study it the better you get at predicting how good your fishing’s going to be.