When’s the best time to fish? If you love fishing, the only bad day is the one where you aren’t on the water. But there are certainly better and worse conditions for catching fish, and countless variables that can be taken into consideration if you want to know whether or not it’s a good day for fishing.
The weather alone is tough to judge. Has there been a big change in barometric pressure? What about temperature? Is a storm coming? Did it just blow over? Are the water levels different? Muddy? Is it day or night time? What about the lunar cycle? Full moon? New moon? Neither?
Those questions and more are worth discussing. But if you just want to know whether you should hit the water today, there are many sites that can help you find times when fish are most likely to be active.
Is the Fishing Good Today? Let’s See…
Many sites eliminate the guesswork from knowing if it’s a good day to fish by taking all those types of variables into consideration for you and then giving an overall rating for the conditions of a specific day.
In some cases, the sites will also show you current information about those variables, such as barometric pressure, and it doesn’t take long to start recognizing when it’s the best time to go fishing.
Jump to the end for tips on some favorable conditions for fishing…
While it doesn’t have local forecasts for fishing, the Farmers’ Almanac’s Fishing Calendar gives a broader sense of whether it’s a good day to fish based based on factors including lunar cycles and zodiac signs.
The site makes it easy to scroll through a calendar month and see roughly how good the fishing is on a given day by glancing at four color-coded ratings: poor, fair, good, and best. There’s also an indicator on whether its better go fishing in the morning or evening on specific day.
Getting more detailed, In-Fisherman has a similar monthly solunar calendar, but it can be filtered down to your exact location by zip code and the type of fish you’re trying to catch (or the animal you’re trying to hunt).
Days of interest are rated from “average” to “excellent” and the calendar even shows ideal time frames for hunting and fishing in the morning and evening, as well as times for sunrise and sunset.
Looking to dive deeper? Tides4Fishing displays a ton of data for finding good days to fish based on solunar and tidal activity, barometric pressure, water temps and more. It presents you with a wave of info for your local weather and it shows different overall ratings for various weather factors.
More than just displaying lots of numbers for conditions like air pressure, the site accounts for whether the pressure is rising, falling, or stable, and how that might affect your bites. This level of detail makes Tides4Fishing a go-to for keeping tabs on local fishing conditions.
Still not deep enough? PrimeTimes offers a paid service that provide ratings based on a balance of both lunar and solar activity, including dawn, dusk, and noon – more than you get with most moon tables.
What’s more, the charts lets you know when ideal lunar and solar conditions overlap so you get that extra edge. There are charts that show the best days and the best periods to fish, and the days are rated with a 100-point scale for good or bad conditions – way more than the four-point scale that most sites offer.
And Where Can I Go Fish Near Me?
TakeMeFishing has an interactive map with blips and addresses for seemingly every location relevant to fishing, including bodies of water, boat ramps, marinas, charter services, as well as gear and bait shops.
Along with showing locations relevant to fishing, when you zoom in far enough on a specific area, you can see forecast information and what species are available there. This includes how many of each species have been caught and recent pictures that people have submitted of their catches. Cool stuff.
Each state has a site dedicated to information about local fish and wildlife. This often includes a state-specific map similar to the one from TakeMeFishing that shows where you can go fishing in the area.
Check the table below for a link to your state’s fish and wildlife site:
Run by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, this map isn’t made for fishing but you can filter the results down so only trails with fishing are shown. The site also doesn’t have every trail mapped judging by the results we got for our area. But it does have a ton of places listed and can be useful for finding somewhere new to cast your line, or more than a dozen other activities.
Still looking for the perfect spot? Wired2Fish has a guide on how you can use Google Earth and other map software to find great places for fishing. They give a quick rundown on what to look for when scouting bodies of water, such as shaded banks, downed trees, funnel points, and how seasonal conditions play a part in finding good locations to fish.
Learn When it’s a Good Time to Fish
There are some generally favorable conditions that can indicate when it’s a good time to grab your rod. That said, even when some conditions are ideal, other factors might be working against you that day. Maybe you’re entering a full moon but the fish are less active because the water temperature is too low.
Here are some of the best times to go fishing:
- Dawn & dusk – Both classic times for fishing. Most life wakes with the rising sun and that’s a likely time for fish to be feeding. Heading out before dawn can be especially great for beating the summer heat. Meanwhile, increased insect activity and the coming darkness tend to encourage bites toward the evening.
- Sunny afternoon – Perhaps less intuitive than fishing at dawn or dusk, but PrimeTimes makes a strong case for fishing during high noon (see #8 on their FAQ page). The short of it: plankton blooms are their strongest, leading to feeding minnows and active predator fish. Noon is also halfway between dawn and dusk so fish may be hungry again, the sun is at its highest electromagnetic period, and the afternoon warmth can bring fish back to life during a cold winter.
- New & full moon – The lunar cycle affects tide levels and that’s one indication of how active fish are. The gravitational effects of the sun and moon pull in the same direction during a new moon, while they pull on opposite sides of the earth during a full moon.
- Temperature changes – Fish get lethargic when water temperatures get too low and spring back to action when temps reach an ideal range for that species. For example, certain trout start turning on when the water gets into the mid-40s Fahrenheit. Mepps has a great chart showing the favored temperature ranges of different species:
- Pressure changes – Watch for sudden changes in barometric pressure. Big drops in pressure before a storm will often make for good fishing but then conditions get worse as the pressure dips too low. Spikes can also be great and stable pressure in an ideal range is fine too. An ideal barometric pressure range for fishing is suggested to be roughly between 29.8 inches and 30.4 inches but varies by elevation.
- Overcast & light rain – Less sunlight reduces visibility in the water, making fish feel more comfortable with swimming away from structure and exploring for food. It also helps eliminate your shadow from scaring fish. Likewise, fishing in light rain can obscure surface visibility and trigger feeding from insects and worms being washed into the water.
- Windy days – While challenging to endure if you’re trying to cast a lure, high winds create choppy water that drives bait fish toward the shore and predator fish inevitably follow along.
How much is a fishing license? Check the information for your state.