You love to go fishing. As they say, a bad day fishing is better than a good day doing anything else! Nevertheless, you would just as soon catch fish when you go fishing. So, knowing the best times to fish for the most bites by the best fish is important. The best times to fish have to do with the time of year, time of day, and type of fish as well as the weather and where you are fishing. It also helps to have a few handy tools such as a thermometer like the Vexilar Depththerm to check temperature at various depths.
Best Times to Fish in General
For summer fishing most anglers have the best success in the early morning or late evening but dusk is typically the best time to get bites in both the spring and the fall. Fish are more likely to bite when they are hungry, when they are startled, or when they are defending their territory. So, the best times to fish will also vary with the strategy you are using to catch the attention of the fish.
In the Southern USA you can commonly catch fish any time of the year. The same applies to Northern regions but you may end up ice fishing on the lakes of Northern Michigan, Wisconsin, or Minnesota. Although both early and late in the day are generally good times to get bites when ice fishing, local lake conditions may outweigh the time of day as important factors. Patience and tolerance for the cold are often the main factors when catching fish through a hole in the ice!
Tide Schedules and Best Times to Fish
When ocean fishing from the beach or along tidal rivers it is essential to have a tide schedule. Fish like snook travel in schools up and down rivers and casting at the right time or times can result in an impressive catch while casting three or four minutes on either side of their passing will be a waste of time unless you remind yourself that being out in nature is a great thing.
The Weather and Times to Fish
All of you plans for fishing at the best times can be upset when you get a rain storm or a cold front moves in. In general, bad weather will disrupt your chances of catching fish at any time of the day so always check the weather before going out.
And, depending on the fish that you are intending to catch, you need to be aware of their patterns of activity (like schooling up and down rivers morning and evening) and choose your fishing location, time of fishing, bait, tackle and time of day.
When to Fish for Bass
When bass are spawning is when they are most likely to bite. Thus to know the best time to fish for bass you need to understand their spawning season. This is late winter in the Southern USA and in late spring in the North for largemouth bass. Water temperature is very important as bass start feeding heavily when the water temperature gets to 60 degrees. This is also when they begin to nest in shallower water.
NOTE: In many states bass fishing is closed during pre-spawning and spawning. Always carry a copy of fishing regulations for your state and be certain to check them in any state to which you plan to travel to go fishing.
When bass are done spawning the female may not eat much for several weeks and then they feed heavily for two or three weeks. This may be your best time to fish for bass. And, no matter what time of the year, bass fishing is generally best early in the morning and even more so late in the evening when the sun is not bright. Thus, you may get bites midday when it is cloudy or in turbid or muddy water.
When to Fish for Trout
A good general rule for trout is that they feed when bugs and mosquitoes are active so fishing is best when it is warm and especially in the early morning and evenings. Too many anglers try fishing for trout in the late morning and mid-afternoon and are not very successful. These are not the best times to fish for trout.
The best time specifically is from about dawn and for the next two hours. The next best time is late afternoon starting about three hours before sun sets and continuing until dusk makes it too dark to fish. Late afternoon is the best time for trout fishing in all seasons.
However, when fishing for brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout the best times may vary a bit according to whether you are fishing a lake, reservoir, river, or creek. In general, the best times to catch lake trout are not the same as for the others.
Part of why the best time to fish for trout is evening followed by morning is that this is when bugs and mosquitoes are most active. However, it also has to do with trout having good vision in reduced light conditions. They see color and contrast better and have better depth perception than their prey such as minnows, sculpin, and insect larvae at these times.
And, you may even have decent luck fishing into the night as research has shown that trout that are less dominant and less aggressive will be looking for food after it gets dark
Is Evening or Morning Better for Trout Fishing?
Although we already said that evening was better in general for trout fishing this can vary by the season, the trout species, and factors like availability of insects and other food. The earlier in the morning the better and the later in the evening the better for getting trout to bite.
When Not to Bother Fishing for Trout
This is a tossup between the middle of the night and the middle and heat of the day. That having been said, under the right conditions, trout will bite all day and night long! When there is a bright full moon and lots of insects, trout will often feed late into the night. When they are hungry trout will feed during the day as well but will not be staring at the bright surface of the water so fishing with dry flies is usually not a successful approach. A better approach during the day is to use insect larvae lower in the water so that the trout are looking down at them and not up.
Avoid Times When It Is Hot
Warmer water makes fish sluggish. Thus the best time to fish for trout is definitely not during the hottest days of the year or the hottest times of the day. That having been said, having a way to check water temperature is useful.
All of this having been said, if you are fishing a location that is new to you don’t be afraid to ask for advice from those who fish there routinely. You will commonly get useful tips that will help you pick the best times and places to fish. A handy thing to have is a fishing calendar. This will give you a reliable reference when you have forgotten the best time to fish for a given species at a given time of year.