When Is the Best Time to Go Fishing?

It doesn’t matter if you have top-of-the-line fishing gear, if you’re not going fishing at the right time of the day, you may not catch anything at all — save that fish from the grocery store you “caught” on the way home! So when is the best time to go fishing in order to catch the most fish? How does that window vary when it comes to different seasons and the behavior of the fish? Here are the factors you need to keep in mind when deciding the best time to fish:

  • What time of day you’re fishing
  • The season/time of year you’re going fishing
  • What type of fish you want to catch
  • Where you’re fishing
  • What type of location you’re fishing in
  • Weather conditions

All of these can affect your prospects, so keep these in mind when you’re having a particularly great day on the water it helps to keep a journal or some sort of record of what time you’re fishing so you can get a feel of what the best times are.

What Time of Day is Best to Go Fishing Depending on the Season

The one time in your life you want to go where the mosquitos are? Fishing! When the air and water are warm and the bugs are a-crawling,’ then you know it’s a great time to catch some fish. This is generally why fishing at night won’t yield much: when fish are cold, they tend to stay still and hunt for bugs less, especially because they are coldblooded. When fish are in warmer temperature waters, they’re more likely to be active, as long as the water isn’t too warm (which is when they will often take cover in cooler waters.) Tides, weather changes, and seasons can affect all of this, but generally, it’s best to go fishing during the morning as the sun comes out, and near the evening when the sun starts to come down.

This is generally when the fish tend to be most active (the midday slump isn’t just for humans!)

Fishing season

During the spring, it’s best to wait until the later hours of the afternoon after the sun has warmed up the water. If you aren’t getting any bites, try for shallower water that has been warmed up more quickly than the deeper spots. During the summer, try and shoot for mornings and around sundown/sunset. Don’t fish in the middle of the day when the sun directly hits the water: the fish are likely to be less active in the heat. If you do find yourself out in the middle of the day, however, try and find deeper water where the fish will most likely taking a break from the sun.

During the fall, fish in the late afternoons and early evenings. Fall fishing tends to be better because the fish are gaining weight in preparation for the winters. Avoid mornings, where the water is cooler. Shoot for water that is more shallow: because of the dropping temperatures, fish will tend to look for these warmer, shallower regions. While you can still try your hand at fishing in the winter, the cold temperatures will often make it much harder for you to catch anything and it really depends on your geographic location when it comes to what time of day is best. Try and fish during the middle of the day when waters are the warmest.

How Your Location Affects the Best Times to Go Fishing

Fishing near an ocean? The best time to go fishing is during a tidal shift because fish are lazy and this is when they’re more likely to move around. Try and plan your fishing trip around the changing of the tides. During low tide, check out the fishing in areas with mud banks. In higher tides, look for areas that are more shallow. As fish move throughout the day to find cooler water, try and find areas that are more shallow, including any drop-offs or depressions where you can catch the fish as they make their move. It’ll take time for you to find all the best fishing spots, so take your time and record which areas you find the best fishing in throughout the day.

How Weather Conditions Affect When You Should Go Fishing

Clouds and windy days may not feel like great days to be outdoors, but they’re great weather conditions for fishing! Overcast clouds cause fish to become bolder and come to the surface more often in certain areas. If it gets too cold, though, fish won’t be as active. They tend to feed more often before a cold front comes in, and then as the cold front hits they hit the snooze button and chill out as it passes. Same goes for days that are hotter than usual: too hot and the fish are going to throw the towel in and call it a day. If you can, avoid fishing in unseasonably cold weather and in heavy rain.

Light rain can sometimes increase the presence of bugs and therefore improve fishing conditions. But usually, it’s best to skip the fishing trip if the forecast shows rain. Another weird tip? Try fishing when there’s a full moon or when the moon is closer to the earth. Check out lunar calendars for help finding the best times to hit the water. So what’s truly the absolute best time to go fishing? When you’re going to have a great time on the water, regardless of how many fish you catch. While arming yourself with tidal charts and lunar data can help you increase your haul. At the end of the day you also want to go when you’ll enjoy your time on the water. Happy fishing!