How to Choose the Best Times to Fish (2023)

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Follow these five simple tips to find the best times to fish for trophy bass and other species.

ByColin Moore

How to Choose the Best Times to Fish (1)

Photograph Courtesy ofBass Pro Shops

In coastal areas, the influence of tides has an impact on fishing, for better or worse. When the tide is flooding shoreline vegetation, bass move in to feed. When the tide is receding, they tend to disperse in deeper water.

The best time to go fishing is whenever you can. While that old maxim has merit and speaks to the value of fishing just for the fun of it, there are times during the day, month and year when it seems bass and other species are especially eager to take whatever it is you’re offering them on the end of your line.

Here are five ways for you to determine the best times to head out for a day of fishing where you live.

1. Top Seasons to Fish

Generally speaking, the warmer the weather, the better the fishing. No matter where you fish, the two best seasons to fish are spring and autumn. Spring is when bass shake off their winter doldrums and fatten up for spawning season. In postspawn, they pack on the pounds for their annual growth spurt.

(Video) When is the Best Time, Weather, and Conditions to go fishing?

In the fall, bass take advantage of the presence of young-of-the-year prey and add some weight to help them survive the lean times of winter.

Quick tip: Bass and other predators forage heavily along shorelines in autumn, hunting for sunfish and minnows feeding on spent terrestrial insects that fall into the water. Fish the banks with topwater lures such as the Arbogast Hula Popper or Heddon Tiny Torpedo

Additionally, aquatic vegetation, such as hydrilla and water lilies, become way stations for fish moving shoreward. This is the peak time to fish such cover with soft-plastic frogs and toads.

2. Why Mornings and Evenings Work

How to Choose the Best Times to Fish (2)

Photograph Courtesy ofBass Pro Shops

Being ambush predators that also have an instinctive need for cover, bass become more active during low-light conditions. Early morning or late evening are magic times to land the catch of a lifetime.

Early morning and late evening are regarded as prime times for fishing during the warm-weather months, but why? A number of factors are at work:

Morning

  • Various aquatic insects hatch at sunup and activate the food chain for everything from minnows to muskies.
  • Shad gather and spawn at daylight, too.
  • Phytoplankton and algae photosynthesis get a boost from the rising sun. This process both stimulates the daily feeding cycle and enhances dissolved oxygen content, which also energizes fish.

Evening

  • As the day wanes, the water temperature is likely optimal and fish metabolism is still conducive to feeding.
  • The cover of darkness makes fish such as bass feel more secure moving around in the open and in shallow water where baitfish tend to gather.
  • Then, too, nightfall is one of the environmental allies that help predatory fish ambush prey. Conversely, times when the sun is high in the sky cause fish to reposition in deeper water, get under the cover of aquatic vegetation, bridges and docks, or move into submerged trees and brushy cover. Bass go where they have to in order to find food and feel safe.

Quick tip: When targeting bass, fish the shallows with topwater lures, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and other “noisy” moving baits early and late in the day. Move offshore and slow down presentations of jigs and soft plastics as the air temperature warms and the sun climbs in the sky.

(Video) Understanding Tides To Catch MORE Fish: Beginner's Guide to Saltwater Fishing

If shad are a primary forage, watch for schools moving offshore and fish crankbaits, jigging spoons and a variety of soft-plastic swimbaits that mimic baitfish.

3. How Fishing Currents Can Help

How to Choose the Best Times to Fish (3)

Photograph Courtesy ofFLW

In lakes dammed to generate electricity, bass move offshore as summer arrives and chow down on forage such as shad and herring when the current is running. Typically, generating schedules are posted or linked on lake websites. Give swimbaits, heavy jigs and deep-diving crankbaits a try.

Scientists aren’t exactly sure what it is about current in a lake or river that activates feeding among predators, but there’s no question that it improves fishing. Depending on how strong it is, current tends to gather forage fish together in tighter schools and makes it more efficient for bass and other species to feed on them.

Quick tip: Whenever you notice current starting to pick up, focus fishing efforts on places where there are ambush points. Typically, bass will concentrate in such areas and face the current to watch for vulnerable forage.

Cast lures upstream or across the current and work them downstream. To conserve energy, bass won’t hold in the main current, but adjacent to it near structure or cover that deflects the flow. Find such “sweet spots” and focus on them.


Current – whether caused by hydroelectric generation, flooding or wind – causes bass to move to ambush points such as wood cover, shady banks, current funnels and seams, eddy edges or bottom structure including points, humps or sandbars. The steady water movement also generates more dissolved oxygen, which stimulates feeding action.

Dial in the Best Times to Fish With Solunar Predictors

The jury is still out regarding whether the position of the sun and moon in relation to the earth directly affects fishing success. One thing is certain: Local factors such as the weather, hold the trump card.

(Video) WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO FISHING? Tips for Beginner Anglers. #FishingTutorials

Many anglers rely on solunar prognostications such as John Alden Knight’s Solunar Tables,which are found in magazines or newspapers as well as on various websites. Certainly, when the moon and sun rise and set has an impact on fish as it relates to light duration and visibility. For instance, some fishermen believe that an early moonrise in the evening prolongs feeding activity.

How to Choose the Best Times to Fish (4)

Photograph Courtesy ofDatasport, Inc.

Many anglers are convinced that the position of the sun and moon relative to the earth influences bass movement and feeding. One thing is for sure: such positive reinforcement makes us fish harder and with more diligence at the peak fishing times.

Make up your own mind. Keep a journal that includes water and weather conditions on the best and worst fishing days you experience. Make note of when you catch fish and the circumstances, and how they match up with “best fishing times” suggested by solunar predictors such as The Original Doug Hannon Moon Clock. Over time, keeping such records will provide useful fishing information and help guide expectations.

4. Fish Weather Fronts

Abrupt or gradual changes in the weather affect fishing for better or worse. For instance, barometric pressure drops as a summer thunderstorm approaches. As a result, fish become more active and feed aggressively.

Conversely, as a front moves on, the barometric pressure rises, and fish tend to sulk or become less active. Typically, they move offshore or into heavy cover such as aquatic vegetation. When the barometric pressure is more or less stable, it plays a reduced role in fish activity.

Quick tip: Take along a reliable barometer when you go fishing and check it occasionally for changes. Inexpensive fishing barometers are available for less than $20 from such sources as Cabela’s or Wholesale Marine.

If the barometric pressure is dropping, head for your best spots. If it’s rising, slow down and fish weedbeds and deeper water.

5. Fish The Tidal Changes

Bass and inshore saltwater fish, such as redfish and flounder, flourish in coastal areas where river deltas create a smorgasbord of freshwater and saltwater forage. Typically, incoming tides allow fish to roam areas that are normally too shallow and feed in emergent bank cover such as reeds, and submergent vegetation such as eelgrass.

(Video) Choose the BEST Strike Indicator...to Catch MORE Fish!

Conversely, outgoing tides “pull” fish away from the banks into bottom depressions or channels. Either way, feeding opportunities also create fishing opportunities for anglers.

When the tide is flooding, fish closer to the bank; when it’s running out, fish deeper areas offshore. Fish generally become lethargic during periods of slack tide.

Quick tip: When fishing submerged vegetation such as eelgrass, line up your boat so you can cast a spinnerbait or grub up current and parallel with the vegetation rather than across it. That way, your lure is more likely to sink and reach fish that are stationed under the eelgrass.

Regardless of whether you fish when all the best conditions seem to be in play, there are no guarantees that you’ll catch anything. The chances of success, however, are much greater in prime periods than they would be otherwise. Go fishing when you can, and especially on those days when environmental triggers are on your side.

Related articles that may interest you:

10 Best Bass Waters Off The Beaten Path

Best Tips For Catching Spring Bass Right Now!

10 Easy Fishing Tips For Beginners

About the Author:Colin Moore is an avid bass fisherman who has had the opportunity to fish some of the best bass fisheries in North America, with some of the best bass anglers. Formerly, Moore was executive editor of Bassmaster magazine, the bass fishing columnist at Outdoor Life and editor in chief of FLW Bass Fishing magazine. Now editor emeritus of the latter, he continues to write about all things bass fishing.

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FAQs

What time of day are fish most active? ›

Before we dig into the details, however, we can make one blanket statement: fish just about everywhere are almost always active at sunrise and sunset. These periods of changing light levels trigger feeding behavior in all kinds of predatory fish.

Which is the best time to catch maximum number of fish? ›

You can catch fish at different times of the day, but go fishing before sunrise or after sundown as those are the best times for catching fish. Early morning is a great time to fish as activity increases as night turns into day.

What attracts fish at night? ›

Best Color Light for Night Fishing

When choosing a light source for night fishing, the best color to use and attract fish is green or a mixture of green and white. These colors can penetrate around 70 to 75 feet deep underwater.

What is the best bait for fishing? ›

Some of the best freshwater fishing bait include worms, leeches, minnows, crayfish, crickets and grasshoppers. Select good saltwater baits including sea worms, eels, crabs, shrimp, strips of squid, and cut-up pieces of fish. You can purchase live bait, or better yet, find your own to save money.

What is the 90 10 rule in fishing? ›

If you're wondering what “The 90/10 Fishing Rule” is, here it is in one sentence: 90% of ALL FEEDING FISH can be found in just 10% of the water in any given time and place.

What attracts fish the most? ›

Scents That Attract Fish
  • Human Saliva. Human saliva seems to be a fish attractant. ...
  • Anything Fish. Fish definitely will be attracted to the fish scent, which makes a lot of sense. ...
  • Cheese. ...
  • Coffee. ...
  • Garlic. ...
  • Alcohol. ...
  • Human Natural Oils. ...
  • Sunscreen And Bug Spray.
24 Oct 2022

What attracts fish more? ›

There are many scents that fish absolutely love and there are many scents that fish can't stand. Here is a quick list of the attractive scents and the ones that repel fish. Attractants: salt, fish slime, fish guts, fish extracts, human saliva. Possible attractants: milk products like cheese, coffee, garlic.

What color do fish see best? ›

Blue/Green – These two colours will remain visible to a fish for as long as light is able to penetrate the water. As a snorkeller you're unlikely to go that deep, so if you want to make sure the fish are able to see you then go for blues and greens!

What color attracts fish the most? ›

Overall, green light attracts the most fish. Green has a high lumen output of 130 per LED alongside a 520 nm wavelength. Shrimp and insects have both of these wavelengths in their color vision alongside green light receptors around 530 um.

What colour light attracts fish? ›

Which Colour Works Best. The zooplankton is attracted to submerged green and white lights. Similarly, small flying bugs like the same colours so keep the lights submerged if you don't want a swarm of them. Green is also a good colour in areas where the water clarity is poor.

What bait catches all fish? ›

INSECTS. Ants, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets and caterpillars are ideal to use as live freshwater fishing bait for catching pan fish, sunfish and trout.

What is the most common fish bait? ›

Worms are a staple of bait shops and fishing them is the most common live bait option across the US. Nightcrawlers and Red Worms are popular option to purchase at your local baitshop or dig them up in your own backyard. These are often sold or stored in foam containers with breathable lids.

What are the five 5 techniques in fishing? ›

The five basic methods of angling are bait fishing, fly-fishing, bait casting, spinning, and trolling. All are used in both freshwater and saltwater angling. Bait fishing, also called still fishing or bottom fishing, is certainly the oldest and most universally used method.

What does TBF mean in fishing? ›

The main focus of the The Bass Federation (TBF) is to work for: Our members. The member State Federations. The industry as a whole. Youth, by establishing activities for them that foster their learning and skill levels pertaining to the sport of fishing.

What is the most efficient fishing method? ›

LONGLINE: one of the most fuel-efficient catching methods, long-lining is used to capture both pelagic fishes (like tuna) and demersal (like flatfish.) It involves setting out a length of line, possibly as much as 80-100 km long, to which short lengths of line, or “snoods,” with baited hooks are attached at intervals.

What kills fish the most? ›

The most common cause of fish kills is suffocation due to lack of dissolved oxygen. Most dissolved oxygen is produced by algae and aquatic plants through photosynthesis. A lesser but also important source of oxygen in water is diffusion from the atmosphere, which is enhanced by wind-induced surface water turbulence.

What smell attract fish? ›

What kind of scents do fishes like? Ans: Fishes like the smell of anise, salt, and garlic. However, it should be noted that garlic and anise are mostly used as masking agents to cover the unwelcome smell of a synthetic bait. Salt, on the other hand, is a proper attractant.

Why is the fish not biting? ›

If the fish aren't biting, it may be due to the water being too cold or too hot for them to behave as they normally would. If this is the case, try to slow down your presentation and cast directly on them. This technique will allow the fish to grab the lure without exerting too much energy.

How can I increase my chances of catching fish? ›

How to Increase Your Chances of Catching a Fish
  1. Hire as Early as Possible. If you are a fishing novice, you can do one major thing to catch more fish. ...
  2. Read Local Fishing Reports. ...
  3. Throw Out Burley.
  4. You can buy Burley from your boat hire shop and use it to attract fish to your boat. ...
  5. Fish at a Hot Spot. ...
  6. Manage Expectations.
12 Oct 2016

Which liquid attracts fish? ›

Big Catch Fish Attractant is formulated with all natural ingredients. The scent and colour of this proven formula has been specifically prepared for fresh water fishing.
...
Big Catch Fish Attractant 50ML Fresh Water Scent Fish Bait (50 g)
BrandBig Catch
ScentFish Attractant 50ML Fresh Water
TypeLiquid
IngredientsOil
3 more rows

What time do the fish wake up? ›

Fish don't have eyelids — they don't need them underwater because dust can't get in their eyes. But fish still sleep. Some sleep during the day and only wake up at night, while others sleep at night and are awake through the day (just like you and I).

What time do fish start biting at night? ›

Time your trip wisely.

In general, fishing during the night is most productive between 8:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. Clear and calm nights are the best time to plan your trip, as opposed to when it's windy and the waters are rough. In clear, calm waters, fish usually become active once the sun has completely set.

Do fish know the difference between night and day? ›

Some fish have little tiny sleeps throughout the day and night – you can spot them some just hovering in the water not doing very much for moments at a time. Some fish live so deep that it's always completely dark, so they don't know if it's day or night!

Do fishes come out in the daytime? ›

Most species of aquarium fish are diurnal, which means they're most active during the daytime. Nocturnal fish, on the other hand, are mainly active at night. There are also crepuscular fish species that are primarily active around dusk and dawn.

Is rain good for fishing? ›

Rainy weather also creates desirable conditions for lake fishing. Many species of fish are more active under dark conditions, than in bright sunlight. Particularly in clear water lakes. Often, during hot summer months, the amount of dissolved oxygen in a lake becomes low, making fish inactive.

Which month is best for fishing? ›

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.

Is it good to fish after rain? ›

After a rainstorm, fish may become more active. They may leave their shelter and hunt for food. If the water is rough or if the rain has caused higher levels of turbidity (silt, mud, and sand) to cloud the water, the fish will have more difficulty finding food.

Why do fish not bite in midday? ›

Fish generally prefer early morning and evening sun to the bright midday rays. In midday, the surface temperature of the water is also hotter, forcing the fish to move deeper.

Is it harder to catch fish at night? ›

While it's true that day time fishing in areas of heavy cover can yield some of the largest fish you'll ever catch, night fishing can boast similar results in open water. The night time gives fish a sense of security because it is harder for them to see, which means it is harder for other fish to see them.

Do fish like it dark or light? ›

Fish don't like the dark because when there is no light to see, they dart around the tank, colliding with the walls, ornaments and can even become tangled in the plants. Fish need light to determine whether it is night or day, and they're scared of the sudden switch from darkness to light.

What color do fish see? ›

On one end of the spectrum, reds and oranges are most readily absorbed in water, so these colors are most visible in shallow water. Darker blues and purples penetrate the deepest. Yellow and greens are in between.

Can fish see humans? ›

Researchers studying archerfish found the fish can tell a familiar human face from dozens of new faces with surprising accuracy. This is a big, big deal. It's the first time fish have demonstrated this ability.

Should fish always have light? ›

Aquarium fish do not need light and it is best that you turn it off during the night. Leaving the light on can cause stress to fish as they need a period of darkness to sleep. Too much light will cause algae to rapidly grow and make your tank look dirty. So the short answer is no, do not leave your lights on.

Where do fish usually hang out? ›

Overhanging Trees and Brushes

Overhanging trees provide great overhead cover for fish and shade on sunny days. They are good resting areas for fish if the water isn't too shallow. The deeper the water under an overhanging tree, the better place it is to fish.

Why do people fish so early? ›

As most fish always seek shadows and hiding places, to either wait for prey, hide from predators, or feed in peace and quiet, early mornings provide the perfect cover, no matter where the fish are!

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