When anglers are asked about the best time to fish, many would say: “whenever you can.” And in some ways, that is true. You’re pretty much guaranteed to have a great time every chance you get to wet a line.
But most anglers aren’t satisfied with just getting a fishing line in the water. They also want to make the most of their time outdoors. They want to increase their catch rate, or finally land that fish that has long been part of their bucket list.
For these anglers, the best time to fish depends on many things, like the time of day, the season, the wind, the temperature of the water, and the tides. If you know how these things affect how fish act, you'll be able to improve your fishing success.
In general, fish feed most aggressively, at dawn and dusk. This is when most of their main food sources, like insects, are also most active. A good rule of thumb is to keep an eye out for bugs. If there are a lot of bugs, there are probably also a lot of fish that are biting. Use this to your advantage by throwing a line during these times.
The time of day also affects how warm the water is. Most fish are coldblooded, which means they can't control their body temperature on their own and have to rely on their environment to do it for them. At dusk and dawn, the water isn't too hot, so they can feast without the water getting too uncomfortable. This fishing calendar by Farmer's Almanac is also a handy guide to the best days to fish in the year.
Having said these, some species are more active at night. Catfish, striped bass, rays, and sharks are just some of the fish that feed mostly at night. If you want to catch a certain species, you might want to learn more about how it acts, especially when it eats, to improve the odds.
The water temperature also changes a lot from season to season. Some species are more common at certain times of the year because their behavior is strongly affected by how hot or cold the water is. Again, you should learn as much as you can about the species you want to catch to increase your chances of success. However, there are a few general things to remember. For example, winter is not the best time to cast your line unless you are ice fishing. You might not have the best of luck in early spring, as well, when it is still a bit too cold. When the water gets warmer in late spring and summer, things usually get better. But try to avoid fishing at noon, when the water is too hot. Instead, fish from early morning until midday or from late afternoon until sunset. In the fall, the best time to fish is in the late afternoon or early evening, when the sun has warmed the water a bit.
Wind is also something to think about. Wind blows food for fish near the surface toward the shore, and fish tend to follow it. If you are fishing from the shore on a windy day, it is best to cast into the wind and let the lure move in the same direction as the fish food. If you are fishing from a boat, cast toward the shore in the direction of the wind. Wind also stirs up sediment, which makes the water cloudy or turbid. This can be a good thing if you want to catch big fish, which use the murky water as a place to hide. Wind can make it hard to cast, especially if you're trying to cast into the wind. It can also cause really rough waves, which can be dangerous if you aren't careful.
Tides, which are caused by the pull of the moon, are also important because they change how the water moves. When the tides change, it can have a big impact fish behavior. Fish usually move with the tides, which helps them find new places to eat. Days near the full moon, which you can track with a lunar calendar online or on your fishing app, are often good for fishing.
Season, time, wind, temperature, and tides are just some of the factors you can look into if you’re trying to improve your catch. They can also tell you why, even though you bought the same gear, some fishing trips are better than others. Most importantly, they can let you know what you can do to make sure your next one is even better. Happy fishing!