It can be easy to get out of bed to go fishing when it’s sunny, 75 degrees, and the cooler stocked. Some of us opt out on bad weather days, citing any excuse to convince ourselves we’re still tough. If you’re not going fishing on these days, you’re missing out on some great fishing opportunities. Here is some helpful insight to overcome rain, snow, and sun.
Mind Over Matter
Does fishing in the elements suck? Yes. Is it worth it? It definitely can be. The biggest obstacle to overcome when fishing in bad weather is your mind. Once you’re soaked, you’re soaked. When you’re cold, you’re cold. It simply comes down to how long you can endure it, but every fish you catch magically adds time to that clock. Simply put, force yourself to get out there, and you’ll realize the pain is worth the gain. Most of the time…
There are two reasons why we like to fish in poor weather. For starters, it’s usually as empty as you’ll see your home waters. You’re not the only one who doesn’t want to go out in that crap, and the vast majority of the others are staying home. Second, bad weather often gets fish feeding. It may be the pressure change, the change in lighting, or another scientific factor we won’t claim to understand. But we do know when the sun goes behind the clouds and the rain starts to drizzle, the fish usually start to feed. The good news is we don’t need to know why it happens, we just need to take advantage of it.
Cloudy, rainy days can some of the best on the water. It’s just fishy weather, and you can almost feel it in the air. These can also be good days to fish streamers. For starters the weather will likely boost the fish’s feeding activity overall. They also will be willing to move farther for food because of low light and rain falling on the surface, reduces the ability of predators to see fish. When the weather gets like this, consider using articulated flies that are dark, push water, and affect their lateral line. Nymphing can be productive as well. A go-to rig is a two-fly set-up with a Woolly Bugger or stonefly and Hare’s Ear or caddis larva. Rainy days do have their drawbacks, but leave a dry towel in the car, and get ready to see what you’ve been missing.
Good practice you can have for fly fishing can be done in winter. Snowy days can make fish feed a little more for the same reason rain does, but usually nowhere near the same extent because of the effect temperature has on them. When it comes to winter fishing, you have to be honest with yourself. You’re trying to get a fish that has little to no appetite to eat something that is usually very, very small. Your presentation often has to be perfect and nearly everything has to go right for you to land a fish. Focus on your drift, fly depth, and work the deeper holding water more so than you might expect. Winter is the best time to practice your nymphing. So if you can do it well now, it will pay off big time in the spring.
When the heat is on, leave trout alone. Not only does their metabolism slow down, but the chances of harming them goes through the roof when the water warms above 67 degrees. When this occurs, consider chasing warm-water species. Warm-water fly fishing is a whole different type of fly fishing. Seeing a largemouth bass smash a popper is an all-time feeling. When fishing in the summer heat, try to fish at daybreak and dusk, when the light is off the water and it begins to cool. Catching fish is still possible during the day, it’s just tougher and your approach should be low and slow. Sinking lines may be essential and flies with marabou and other materials that move even without twitching the line can be very effective. When the heat is on, try your hand at a new species and you’ll find a whole new level to your fishing addiction.
Just because the weather is calling for doom and gloom doesn’t mean you should wave the white flag. Fishing in the elements can be rewarding, challenging, and everywhere in between, but it will make you a better angler.
So next time you wake up and hear rain, see snow, or just think it’s too damn hot, head to the water and you may just have your best day yet.