Living in northeast Ohio, we are all more than familiar with less than favorable weather conditions, much like we have experienced for what seems to be the last 87 consecutive days.
These constant rain storms will often deter the casual fisherman from getting on the water. Of course, fishing during a raging thunderstorm is probably not the wisest decision, but that doesn't mean we should avoid fishing altogether. Fishing in the rain is just like every other weather-influenced situation, you just have to adjust your strategy accordingly.
The first thing to remember when fishing in the rain is to be safe. Whether you are in a boat or on shore, taking the proper safety precautions is essential. Stay in a safe location, away from the water when a severe thunderstorm approaches the area.
Before rain moves into the area is an excellent time to catch fish. The change in atmospheric pressure that happens when inclement weather moves into an area, kick starts the fishes feeding instincts. I'm no scientist, so I can't explain what the lower pressure does to the fish, but trust me, they will bite. Regular-condition tactics will usually work when the rain is approaching, but keep in mind how the conditions may have actually changed. Often times the sky will be more cloudy and the wind will pick up, so adjust your technique accordingly.
After the rain has arrived, fishing gets a little tougher ... not impossible, just tougher. The biggest adjustment when fishing during the rain is understanding that the fish will have a much more difficult time seeing the lure. Bass in particular, that may have been hitting something flashy and bright, may not be able to see that lure after it begins raining. The best thing to do in this situation of low visibility is to throw a lure that is dark in color, such as a black spinner bait, black craw with blue or red flakes, or a dark colored jig. The key is throwing something dark that will stand out in the lowered visibility. This is the same idea as fishing at night. The visibility at night is lowered, therefore, throwing something dark will help the lure stand out because it will appear to the fish as a dark silhouette. Throwing loud lures, such as topwater buzzbaits or rattle-trap crankbaits can also be effective as the fish can hone in on the sound even though the visibility is low.
Techniques for fishing after the rain are very similar to techniques for fishing during the rain.
After it rains, the water is usually very murky, especially in rivers. Sediment gets churned up as the water currents increase, making the water dark and opaque. For this reason, it is still important to throw dark and noise-making lures. There are, however, some differences in post-rain fishing.
One thing to keep in mind is the increased water flow in certain areas. Rivers easily rise and increase current speed after a rain, which can make it difficult to present a particular lure. The streams that flow into rivers will be flowing steadily. This is a good spot to fish because the increased stream flow brings an increase in bait fish. The new fresh water is high in nutrients and sustainability for the baitfish, and the bass take full advantage. Throwing spinnerbaits and crankbaits in these areas is recommended.
The same is true in lakes. Bass hang around incoming streams and the underwater currents where baitfish stack up.
Another thing to keep in mind after a heavy rain is the rise in the water level. When the water level rises, so do the fish. Bass will house themselves in structure, such as rocks and logs, in shallow water. If the water level rises, the bass will move to newly formed underwater structures in the shallower water. Flipping dark jigs or Texas-rigged soft plastics in these areas can be highly productive.
Stay dry, stay safe and stay fishing.