If you have been fishing for years or you are just starting in the sport of fishing, you may well have had days where you turn up at the water. The fish are just not taking your bait, this can lead to frustration and for some to never go back fishing, so finding the best time of day to go fishing can be vital to having a successful trip and landing fish.
Many different things affect your success, and we aim to cover all these in detail in our guide as having any idea when the best time of day to fish will bring you many happy fishing trips with a lot more fish in the net.
Early Morning Fishing
A lot of anglers like to take to the water for early morning fishing manly to avoid the afternoon higher temperatures and backing in full sun, but is the right choice for catching more fish? Yes during the summer, fish tend to be more active feeders in the morning before the sun hits the water and starts to heat the water were the fish tend to bask in the upper part of the water and are more interested in jumping out of the water to take more oxygen in rather than eating.
Also, it’s worth mentioning there are fish like Bass and catfish that like the early morning low light condition as other fish become active eating. They pounce for an easy meal in the low light.
The above advice is more intended for summer months when the weather is warmer, but during the winter, this is not the case as fish will be a lot more inactive till the water warms up a little, and this could be a little later in the day.
So to recap summer months, you should get plenty of fish in the early morning, but winter months should be avoided in the early morning.
Late Morning to Early Afternoon Fishing
If you love the sun or don’t like the chill mornings, then you are more likely to go fishing during this time, but that may not be the best thing when it comes to catching fish.
The sun is starting to get to its highest and strongest point of the day, this may be fine if you like the sun, but fish tend to hate these conditions as the sun makes the algae in the water bloom and this takes oxygen out of the water. Hence, the fish tend to go to deep water or bask on the surface to take regular gulps of air to get oxygen into there system.
This is more an issue during the warmer months of the year. Still, another problem with this part of the day for fishing it’s when visibility in the water is at its highest, so predatory fish will lie low until they have more success in the lower light conditions.
There are times when late morning early afternoon can bring success like on overcast or windy days. This keeps the heat of the water, and fish will be more inclined to eat in these conditions.
You need to adapt…
If the sun is beaming on the water and you’re out fishing then you want to adapt your style of fishing to give yourself the best possible chance of landing a fish, so you want to use deep bottom tackle or surface bait like the fly’s for fly fishing as trout like nothing better than easy picking of fly’s in the sun.
This advice is more for sunny months, and as it may not be the best time to fish generally in summer, if you adapt your fishing style or target fish, you can still have success.
During the winter this time of day can be the best as the weather warms the very cold water the fish become more active and more inclined to eat and during the winter months, it is less likely the sun is going to have any adverse effects on the fish apart from predatory fish who like the low light.
Late Afternoon Fishing
During the summer, late afternoon is one of the best times of the day to go fishing as the sun starts to drop, the water begins to cool, and the oxygen levels in the water begin to rise, and so does the fish activity level.
So after a long day trying to get oxygen into their system the fish get boosts from the levels of oxygen now entering the water and if you have ever been on the water after a long hot day it can sometimes feel like a feeding frenzy as the fish can go a little crazy at this time as they replenish their energy with food, I have had some of my best fishing activity at this part of the day.
It’s also when the predatory fish come alive as well as the light dims, and other fish come out feeding it makes for easy meals for the likes of catfish and Bass.
It’s fair to say this mainly applies to the summer months of the year, whereas during the winter months, the water temperature at this part of the day is starting to cool off again, and the fish are more likely to become less active in the winter months.
Maybe the least popular time to go fishing, but is this the right call? No, well, there is a caveat to this as who wants to fish during the night I have done it at times, but it’s not something I would do regularly. Also, it depends on the fish you are targeting.
During the warmer months fish are more active during the night, so if you are targeting predatory fish, then this is the time you want to be out as they will be at their most active during this time as they will be on the hunt for easy meals, as other fish find this time harder to see the predatory fish coming this leads to easy meals.
Also, if you have a full moon, fish like to bask in the moon like such a surface lures can be great for night fishing when you have a full moon.
Night fishing is more for the dedicated fisher. I have only done it when targeting predatory fish you could spend a lifetime fishing and never go night fishing it is a new experience one which I enjoyed but something I wouldn’t do regularly as I feel there is always I part of the day that is more convenient no matter what time of the year that I can target a particular fish.
Factors That Affect Fishing Times
Above, we have covered the outline of what is the best time of day to go night fishing and just sticking to this will see your catch success rate skyrocket, but to enhance your chances of landing fish on your fishing trips I have included some extra things that effect fishing trips below.
This may sound a little strange, but the moon phase has a significant impact on fishing if you plan to do a night session.
Fish like to move around in light conditions, so a full moon will mean that fish will be a lot more active than normal but as it will still be a lot more challenging to see predator fish come into their own and have a feast, so a full moon is the best time to target predator fish.
Night fishing is only for hardened fishers, but if you want to catch that big catfish, then a keep an eye on the moon phases and hit the lake when we have a full moon, and you should be a lot more successful.
What the best time of day to go fishing will have a lot to do with the season you are taking to the water as summer months you want to avoid the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest. Still, winter, this will be the perfect time as the water is warmer and maybe the only time of the day the fish will feed.
Not only do you have to think about the weather that comes with different seasons but also fish have different habits in different season each fish type are different but early summer months a lot of fish will start to spawn. The last thing on their mind is eating, also if you do see fish spawning, its best not to fish for these and leave them to do their thing and make the fish for years ahead.
Many don’t consider the wind when they set out on their fishing trips, but it can play a major role in your success on the day, if the wind is creating a ripple on the surface then this is when it will have the most significant impact on the fishing.
What happens is the ripple created by the wind pushes food into the shore, so the fish follow this direction for easy pickings. So you want to be fishing with the wind in your face a lot of people will find a position with the wind at their back for comfort but the fish will be traveling away from you so it will be much harder to catch fish.
If you can get to a bank where the wind is pushing the water into, this should lead to a very fruitful day.
This one is more for sea fishing, but if you are fishing where there are tides, then you will want to know when it is best to get the lines wet. When tides are coming in just like the wind above this starts to bring food to shore so distance is not as important and fish are moving in on you, whereas when the tide is going out the food is moving with it so the fish will follow it, so distance is what you want in this situation.
In the height of summer, cloudy days can make the late morning to early afternoon fishing much more successful as the rays from the sun are blocked. This keeps the water much cooler and much more inductive for fishing.
A cloudy day but warm can give you a full day of perfect fishing, the fish will be very active all day but as there is no sun for the algae to bloom and take oxygen from the water the fish will be active all day and you will have a chance of landing that big fish throughout the whole day.
Whenever I say I keep a fishing diary, I always get strange looks. Still, I very rarely go fishing and come back home empty-handed I put this down to experience and my dairy when I visit a lake I give it a page in the diary I write down the time of day fished, weather conditions and what I caught.
What this allows me to do overtime is paint a picture of how the water fishes in different weather conditions and at different times of the day I have one lake that I will never go to late afternoon as it just never produces fish despite this being one of the best times to fish.
When you’re leaving the water to have a chat with other people fishing ask have that had success make notes in your diary, the added benefit of this is also making fishing friends who can let you know if the water is producing fish when it usually doesn’t.
Now a fishing diary takes a few fishing seasons to start painting a good picture of water, but trust me, it takes so little time and will become such a significant benefit it’s so worth that little effort it takes.
So there we have it I think what you should get out of this article is that there is no best time of day to go fishing that covers the whole year but using the guide should allow you to target the best time of day for when every you are planning your next trip and keeping a diary will enable you to hone in on the best time for the lake your fishing.
So there not a lot more we can cover other than saying have many great fishing trips and many tight lines over the coming season.