Have you ever passed up on a fishing opportunity because it was raining? If so, the truth is, you're missing out. Let's find out why.
Last updated: April 2, 2023
By: Brandon Sanders
We have all been there, waking up early for a day of largemouth bass fishing only to look out the window and see the rain pouring down.
While the novice angler would go back to bed in disappointment, the seasoned bass fisherman knows that their day just got more exciting. While rain causes everything to shut down in the human world, it has the opposite effect on fish.
Bass fishing in the rain is some of the best fishing you can ask for. Ready to find out why?
Let's dive in! 👇
When the barometric pressure bottoms out and the rain begins, a switch is flipped in the brains of the bass. During the time period when the pressure is falling, fish of all sorts begin to feed in anticipation of the rain.
They know that the rain will bring freshly oxygenated water that is full of food for everything in the food chain and they mean to take advantage of it. The wise fisherman will see the rain coming and plan to take advantage of it.
This is especially true during the bass spawn. During that time, the bass are guarding their nests and are excessively aggressive.
When the rain causes massive disturbances on the surface of the water, the bass become even more vigilant against creatures that may use the disturbance to rob them of their eggs. Taking advantage of this by using topwater presentations can yield incredible results.
While bass fishing in the rain can yield serious results, it's not as simple as hitting the water once the clouds roll in. You need to exercise a strategy that corresponds to that body of water and environment that you're fishing.
Here are a number of tips you can use to help with angling in the rain. Let's jump into it.
Every species of fish has its own, unique behaviors when it comes to weather response. Some are more sluggish, and some move to deeper water, but bass become more aggressive and aware of what is happening on the surface.
As the water becomes more and more disturbed, they take up ambush positions under lily pads and logs. This allows them to take advantage of the cover the rain affords and enjoy the cool, oxygen-rich water it brings.
As fishermen, we must take advantage of this behavior by throwing high disturbance topwater lures. Anything that will further disturb the water and stand out against the background of rain droplets impacting the otherwise peaceful water is crucial in standing out for the bass.
Buzzbaits are an ideal choice, but there are others that also leave a large wake and produce an excessive amount of pressure waves such as a torpedo or a Zara Spook.
As they disturb the surface, these topwater baits will appear to either be in distress or other creatures also looking to take advantage of the newly rejuvenated water. Since the bass have moved closer to the surface of the water, they present an opportunity for an easy meal.
Matching the speed of the retrieval of the lure to the water temperature will be crucial. If the rain has lowered the water temperature, bass will be less likely to give chase to a high-speed pass from a buzz bait. This is especially true during the transition from summer to fall when bass begin to become more calorie-conscious.
Whatever you do in the fishing sphere, you must always have the food chain in mind. Ultimately, you are attempting to convince a fish that your lure is the easiest meal that they will get that day.
No matter what the conditions are, what species you are fishing for, or what your presentation is, it all boils down to that idea. When we consider fishing in the rain, we have to put ourselves in the fish's position and think of how to leverage the weather to enhance our illusion.
When the rain hits, creatures of all sorts gravitate to places where rainwater will collect and enter the body of water they live in. This can come in many different forms depending on the terrain you find yourself in.
In mountainous, rugged terrain, this can look like water falling off rocks and into the lake. In more flat, tame areas, it can be culverts or creeks entering the lake. In swampy areas, it may simply be newly flooded timber or grass that the water level has risen to.
No matter what form runoff comes in, the new water introduces new food sources and will attract fish. Look at maps and think about the hydrology of your area. How will water be collected in your home waters during the next big rain storm? Those areas will likely hold a disproportionate amount of fish as the freshwater brings with it nutrients for plants and other food that was caught in the rushing water.
The conditions the rain bring stir bass and other fish to action. As the barometric pressure falls, the water surface begins to be disturbed, and the water temperature cools, bass move quickly to capitalize on the conditions.
This will last as long as the pressure is falling and taper off when the pressure begins to stabilize. The enterprising angler is left with the challenge of maximizing this period of increased activity.
In order to do this effectively, presentation speed needs to match the general mood of the conditions that are being fished. This demands making fast presentations with whatever lure has been selected.
Casting quickly with quick retrieves will not only be more enticing to bass but will afford the angler many more opportunities to make presentations to a wide array of cover. Fishing quickly will not only be more enticing to fish, but it will also be the most efficient method of making presentations during this short window of opportunity.
One thing to consider during all of this is the speed at which the boat is traveling. The faster you can move the more often new targets to cast to will come into range.
Therefore, it is recommended to install a trolling motor on a kayak or boat so that you can maximize the fishing opportunities during the rain. Making fast retrieves is great, but it will only be effective if you can match the boat speed to the speed that you are fishing.
As rain increases, so does the water flowing into a lake or a river. Naturally, this water has to go somewhere, and the current increases accordingly. Some will shy away at high current conditions thinking that there is simply no way to fish it. However, the seasoned fisherman knows that there are pockets and seams that present excellent opportunities for fishing.
Increased current makes it easier for fish to breathe and it serves as a conveyor belt of food. Fishermen simply can't afford to waste the opportunity such as this that allows them to make frequent presentations to feeding fish. Yet, the current can be exceedingly difficult to operate in. Holding a location long enough to make presentations to cover can be next to impossible.
However, with every body of water, there are pockets of slow-moving water that are buttressed with streams of fast-moving water. Finding the seams between these two current levels is crucial to fishing high current situations.
Fish want the benefits of the increased current, but they don't want to pay the caloric price of having to fight it. Therefore, making presentations to the seams in the current will likely be the most rewarding way you can fish heavy current from a kayak.
An often overlooked or not even considered aspect of fishing in the rain is the comfort and safety of those fishing. The rain can bring unseasonable cold weather with it.
Cold and shivering, fishermen begin to rethink fishing altogether instead of how to best exploit the conditions for their success. Therefore, it is important to remain dry and warm to get the most out of fishing in the rain.
If you find yourself fishing on a day where it is likely to rain, it is important to make sure that you think in layers. While this is a common piece of advice in cold weather, it is even more true when juggling wild temperature swings and keeping dry on the water.
Have a base layer that is able and comfortable to be worn all by itself. Then be able to throw on an insulation layer, like a fleece or hoodie, and a final shell layer to keep the rain off.
A note here should be made on the utility of Merino wool. While wool has great properties for a fisherman, primarily it does not lose its insulating properties when wet, it is scratchy and uncomfortable next to the skin though.
Merino wool however lacks the scratchy nature of wool while maintaining its insulation properties. The last decade has seen a large adoption of the fabric for precisely this reason. As a result, there are many options available for the intrepid fisherman that is going to brave the rain.
While the rain brings about a plethora of opportunities for great fishing, it can also bring about some very serious challenges and concerns. Excessive wind and lighting should be taken into consideration when fishing in the rain.
While the bass may bite, drawing hypothermia and lightning strikes will as well. Luckily, with a little forethought, these are all easily mitigated risks.
First, if you're on a motorless vessel, such as a kayak, think through the safety equipment you bring onboard and make sure that it is conducive to the fishing you are likely to be doing. If you are in a place where the wind is likely to play a factor, consider outriggers to keep you from becoming unstable and rolling over. Further, you may want to consider your storage situation so that you don't lose your tackle in the event the gentle rain becomes a fierce storm.
Lastly, it is best to live by the code of “when thunder roars, go indoors”. Lightning is a serious threat, but more so for anglers. Being on a lake in the middle of a thunderstorm is simply tempting fate.
With fishing poles made of graphite attached to aluminum boats that are negatively charged with batteries, the fisherman runs an increased likelihood of running afoul of lightning. If you find yourself fishing in the rain that grows into a full-blown lightning storm, just go home and fish another day.
Since rain activity impacts water, pressure, and temperature, it can also impact bass feeding habits. Therefore, it's important that your go-to tackle box for bass has a few lures on hand, specifically for the rain.
Below is an overview of the most popular lures for bass in the rain, and why.
Spinnerbaits are a time-honored staple of the practice of largemouth bass fishing. When you consider the regular diet of largemouth bass, it becomes very apparent why they work so well. Imitating baitfish that are traveling alone and unafraid, the spinner bait entices bass to ambush them aggressively.
Many bass fishing tournaments and state records have been set on the end of a spinner bait's hook. The rain only enhances their effectiveness.
The best way to employ a spinner bait is to fish current seams that are located at the boundary between deep and shallow water. It is ideal if there is submerged cover, such as a downed tree, to run the spinner bait through.
Fish them fast to ensure they match the mood of the conditions and to get the blade producing a lot of pressure waves that get the bass's attention. For these conditions, large willow blades are often the best for speed of presentation and for vibration production.
Bass fishing with soft plastics such as the wacky rig is a time honored tradition. Bass love easy-to-catch, high-calorie, and high-protein meals. Soft plastics present them with the opportunity to have all three. Similar to this is the use of a topwater frog.
During the rain, the surface disruption brings the fish to the surface as they seek to capitalize on the conditions. The soft plastic, topwater frog is possibly the most effective soft plastic bait that can be fished on top of the water.
Use a topwater frog by finding grass or lily pads and drag it through there. Frequent presentations down the edges of shallow water vegetation during rain storms have historically been proven to be highly effective.
Many large bass have been caught right after the frog left a lily pad for an open stretch of water. The frog presents a large, easy-to-catch meal that the bass simply cannot resist.
Largemouth bass live in a dynamic place that presents the fish with many different prey to chase. However, nothing engages the predatory instincts of bass like the clack of a fast-traveling buzz bait.
When trailer worms are added, it is nearly irresistible to a bass that is quietly lurking under cover and looking up at the rain-boiled surface of the water. The buzz bait is a timeless classic that is not only fun to fish, but extremely exciting to watch bass strike.
The best way to use a buzz bait is to find cover that is exposed on top of the water and run the buzz bait right along it. This can be weaving it through lily pad beds or going right past stumps and trees.
This puts the buzz bait right in the strike zone of the bass and entices them to chase the loud, obnoxious thing that is zooming over their heads. If the water is warm and it is early in the morning, nothing catches bass in the rain like a buzz bait.
Fishing for bass in various seasons brings about a wide variety of changes in both bass activity and their environment. As the seasons change, and water temperatures cool off in the fall season, rain almost always increases.
Therefore, it is crucial to have a bait that can get the bass's attention in a variety of depths. The chatter bait is a great alternative to the spinner bait, especially in murky water.
The incredibly loud metal-on-metal clanging of the chatter bait produces such a commotion underwater that it not only helps bass find it but entices them to bite. In changing water conditions often encountered in the fall, the chatter bait is an excellent bait choice.
Bass jigs are a well-known, almost stereotypical lure that is used frequently in a wide variety of situations to catch fish. With a large skirt and trailer plastic of some variety, the jig can imitate an array of prey bass are searching for.
The jig should be on standby in every tackle box as its versatility can produce fish in many different situations. While many would associate jigs with much slower types of fishing, a jig can be modified in its presentation to be uniquely suited for fishing in the rain.
Fish jigs in and around trees. This can be done in the rain by swimming them in a bobbing fashion at a fairly high rate of speed. They also have the added use of follow-up casts to fish that were missed by a buzz bait.
Simply have a jig rigged on a separate pole while fishing with a buzz bait. When a fish is missed, pitch the jig quickly to the site of the missed strike and entice the fish to hit.
Every situation is different and the best teacher is experience. It is crucial in any type of fishing, but especially in fishing in the rain to take good notes.
What worked once before is very likely to work again at a later date. It is vital to begin building a large mental deposit of facts and figures to draw from the next time certain patterns are recognized.
It is advisable to pay attention to the clouds and understand what is happening in the atmosphere. What is happening above will almost always impact what is happening below the surface of the water.
The fishing that happens after the rain can be quite challenging. Water clarity often plummets, fish slow down, temperatures drop, and the barometric pressure stabilizes. It is important to continue to find where the current is still flowing.
This allows the fish to breathe easier and helps them key in on potential food sources. While post-rain fishing can be more difficult, it is not impossible to locate the fish and be successful.
While there are many tips and tricks on the internet and in magazines, the most important thing to remember is never to quit bass fishing. In an instant, everything can change. Bass fishing is extremely popular because it is very difficult.
Anyone can accidentally hook a bass every now and then, but a true professional knows how to catch bass even when it's pouring out. Next time you wake up and see the rain clouds covering your favorite lake, embrace the challenge and go catch some.
Bass are more active during the rain due to the sudden drop in barometric pressure. This is especially true after a season of drought. The rain reactivates creeks and runoffs that bring food to the bass that they have otherwise been deprived of.
Bass bite better during and after rain as they are intimately aware of what the atmospheric pressure is. Times of high pressure cause them to be less energetic as they attempt to save their energy for after the storm has passed.
Bass will indeed bite when it's raining. This is especially true of topwater presentations. The added disturbance on the surface of the water draws their attention. This can be easily leveraged by throwing a high disturbance topwater bait like a buzz bait or a torpedo.
You can fish for bass during a storm, but it is only advisable if there is no evidence of thunder or lightning. Standing on a flat surface while holding a carbon fiber pole in the middle of a thunderstorm is an excellent way to attract a bite from a thunderstorm and not a bass.
The best bait to use for bass during the rain is a variety of topwater baits. Among these are grass frogs, buzz baits, torpedoes, or even stick baits. Anything that will leverage the excessive disturbance on the surface will work.
Rain is good for bass fishing as it reinvigorates the bodies of water that bass reside in. It brings fresh nutrients and oxygenated water to the environment that sustains them. This rejuvenation will spur the bass into taking advantage of the weather and will become more active.
About the author: Brandon Sanders, who goes by BBSanders, is a freelance outdoors writer that enjoys hunting and fishing across the world. He is a combat veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other smaller deployments. He lives in East Texas in a small cabin with his wife and two dogs. You can learn more about him on his own website, here.