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How to Find the Best Time for Fishing

Three Methods:Taking Time into AccountTaking Weather into AccountTaking Various Other Factors Into Account

Fishing at the right time is critical for a successful fishing trip. Even if you have the best fishing spot and all the right equipment, you may not catch anything if you go at a bad time. There are a number of factors to consider when deciding when to take out your rod and tackle.

Method 1
Taking Time into Account

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    Consider the time of day. Fish are coldblooded, so their activity depends on the temperature of the water around them.[1] They are inactive when it is cold, and when it is very hot they retreat to deeper waters to stay cool. Because fish eat bugs and/or little fish that eat bugs, they are most active when bugs are most active. When the air is warm and thick with mosquitos, fishing will be good.
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    Consider the season. Like all animals, fish come out in greater numbers during particular times of year. This will of course vary based on where you live and what sort of fish you hope to catch, but there are some general guidelines to keep in mind.[2]
    • Spring – Fish bite on and off during this season. You will have better luck later in the season, and later in the day, when things get a little warmer. Fish can’t do much eating on spring mornings, because the bugs aren’t out much yet, so your best bet is to take advantage of their feeding time at dusk. At this time of year winds will push the warmer, food-filled surface water toward the shore, so try to position yourself downwind along the shoreline.[3]
    • Summer – This is a good season for fishing if you avoid the hottest times of day. The fish will be biting well just before sunup and just after sundown, when food is abundant. Mid-day, when the sun is at its zenith, the fish will retreat to cooler, deeper water.[4]
    • Fall – This can be an inconsistent time, but when the fishing is good, it is really good. They will likely not bite much in the morning and early afternoon. Toward the end of the day, however, the water will be warm from hours of sunlight, and the fish will be driven to eat more than usual because of the impending food shortage that winter brings. Dusk is therefore an excellent time for fishing.[5]
    • Winter – For obvious reasons, not the best time for fishing. Unless you are ice fishing, which is a different thing entirely, you should leave your fishing rod in storage during this season.
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    Consider the tides. It is best to fish when the tide is rising or falling, as this change causes prey to move en-mass, and thus makes a great time for coastal fish to feed. Fishing will be much harder during low or high tide, when there is less water movement.[6][7]
    • To find out what time high and low tides are in your area, just Google "tide chart" and the name of the town you're in.
    • If you are fishing during a high tide, look for a shallow area.
    • If you are fishing during a low tide, look for a mud bank near a slough (an area with a depression in the bottom).

Method 2
Taking Weather into Account

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    Keep an eye out for warm and cold fronts. Because fish are coldblooded, they are deeply impacted by water temperature. This means their behavior can change quite a bit before and after cold or warm fronts.[8]
    • Many fish increase their feeding in the hours before a cold front hits, and slow in its aftermath. Thus, fishing after a cold front will rarely be a successful venture.
    • Warm fronts warm the surface water, and increase the amount of feeding fish can do. The difference is most noticeable in cold weather, when fish are usually not out much, and will not be of much use if it is summer, and the temperature was already quite high to begin with.
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    Keep an eye on the wind. Wind pushes surface water toward the far shore, and small prey fish with it, luring game fish. This makes windy days a good time for fishing.[9][10]
    • If you are fishing from shore on a windy day, cast into the wind. This will make your lure move in the same direction as the rest of the food, which will make it easier to attract game fish.
    • If fishing from a boat, cast toward shore in the same direction as the wind.
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    Keep an eye out for clouds. Overcast days make fish bolder. They tend to swim further from safe structures when it is a little dim out. These are good fishing days.[11]
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    Keep an eye out for rain. Rain can be your friend or your enemy, depending on how hard it is. Light rain is excellent fishing weather, especially in warm weather. It blurs the waters surface, making it harder for the fish to see you. It also washes lots of insects into the water, making it a prime time for fish to eat. Hard rain stirs up mud, and makes it harder for fish to hunt, breathe, and navigate. The fish don’t want to be out in that weather any more than you do, which is good because hard rains also create unsafe fishing conditions.[12]

Method 3
Taking Various Other Factors Into Account

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    Pay attention to bugs. Fish feeding activity is, of course, directly tied to insect activity. Smaller fish eat the insects, and game fish eat the smaller fish. As such, a hatch of flies or mosquitos is sure to create excellent fishing conditions. Just make sure you wear plenty of insect repellent.[13]
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    Make the moon your friend. The moon controls the tides, which play a big role in fishing conditions. It is fairly easy to keep track of the tides by simply observing, but it can pay off to pay closer attention to the movements of the moon. Full moons, and times when the moon is close to the earth, tend to make for especially good fishing.[14] There are lots of free online lunar calendars designed to help you find peak fishing hours.[15][16][17]
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    Know your fish. Different types of fish prefer different water temperatures, times of day, and food. If you are fishing for a particular species, do your research. If you want to catch catfish, it won’t matter when you go out if you never venture from shallow waters.
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    Go fishing when you have the time. It’s all well and good to know when the fish will be out in force, but the truth is that most of us simply go fishing when we have the time for it. You can enjoy a lovely afternoon of fishing with some beers and a friend without ever catching a thing. Don’t get so wrapped up in finding the right time that you forget to have a good time.

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Categories: Fishing