For some fishermen, it takes a lot to get them off the water. Most people head for the indoors when the sky darkens and rain clouds move in, but fishing in the rain is an experience and challenge all its own.
If you’re the type of angler who doesn’t let a little rain stop them, you’re not alone. That said, fishing in the rain isn’t the same as fishing on a bright, sunny day, and there are some big things to keep in mind. One is how the wet weather might affect the fish. The other is how it might affect you.
How Does Rain Change the Water and the Fish?
Rain changes all bodies of water, whether it’s a lake, man-made reservoir, or river.
One thing that rain affects is water temperature. There are a lot of factors involved here, including the time of year, outdoor temperature, rain temperature, water temperature, and whether or not the wind is blowing and from what direction.
If it’s early spring and the water was just starting to warm up when a cold rain comes, the water temperature will drop and some fish might be hesitant to return to your favorite fishing spot because they don’t realize it’s spring. On the other hand, if spring weather brings unseasonably high temperatures and warm rains, the water temperature warms quickly and the fish might return to your favorite spot earlier than scheduled.
Another thing to consider is runoff. Say you’re fishing in a small stream in the woods and heavy rain comes. The water level can increase drastically, changing the current and pushing fish into different areas of the stream or river.
Rain and the Angler
As much as any fisherman is worried about what effect the rain has on their odds of catching a fish, it’s also important to be just as concerned about their own safety. Increased water volume from runoff can increase currents and speed and it doesn’t have to be a heavy downpour to become a dangerous situation. It’s fine to fish in the rain, but staying safe should always be the priority during any fishing trip.
If you’re soaking wet, your clothes bog you down and you aren’t able to cast as well. Being wet on a hot summer day might not be terrible, but if you’re soaked from head to toe in the spring or fall, you’ll be cold and uncomfortable. Not only are you unable to focus, but, depending on the temperature, you might be putting yourself in a dangerous situation.
That’s why one of the best things to invest in for fishing in the rain is a rain suit. There are a lot of options out there and there’s something available for every budget. That said, there are some features to look for to know if you’re getting the best possible rainy weather protection.
All rain suits have a hood but pay close attention to the closure. You need Velcro or cords around the sides so you can adjust the fit as necessary. If the hood doesn’t fit snugly, it will block your peripheral vision and won’t provide the coverage that you need to stay dry.
Some more expensive rain suits have zippers running underneath the sleeves and are lined with mesh. When you get hot, simply unzip them to let air circulate and help you stay school. Velcro closures around the wrist are a good idea, too, because they prevent water from running into the sleeve and down your arm when you move around to cast or reel in your catch.
Look for something similar around the ankles. This lets you keep the cuffs of your pants secure inside the suit instead of hanging out of the bottom, soaking up water.
If you have a rain suit that seems to be losing its ability to repel water, don’t replace it right away. There are some quick and easy products that can refresh it instead of buying a new one. Some wash-in products are quite effective. All you have to do is put your rain suit in the washing machine, stop it during the soak cycle, and use the product, letting it sit for a certain amount of time. Then, turn the machine back on and let the wash cycle finish. There are also some sprays that can make your rain suit repel water again, too. If, after trying these products, your suit still isn’t cutting it, it’s probably time for a replacement.
Your shoes are really important, too. Waterproof boots are essential for fishing in the rain. There are a lot of options to choose from but you don’t necessarily have to spring for an expensive insulated pair. Non-insulated boots can be used year-round, just add another layer of socks if your feet start to get cold.
It might sound odd to suggest wearing sunglasses when it’s gray and dreary outside, but some lenses actually make it easier to see in this type of weather. Yellow or amber-tinted sunglasses block out the blue light from the sun, which is what you’re primarily seeing on cloudy, rainy days. They let just the right light pass through so you can see better in the rain and protect your eyes from UV light at the same time.
Finally, if you spend a lot of time boat fishing, it’s a good idea to get something to protect your face and eyes from harsh, stinging rain. Some anglers choose to wear a full-faced helmet while others find ski goggles are more comfortable.
Fishing In the Rain
Some anglers aren’t going to let any rain spoil their day down by the water, and why should they? With the right gear, you can stay dry and continue to enjoy yourself, regardless of the weather. Remember, rain, temperature changes, water level, and runoff all affect fish activity, so you might have to change up your location to find where they’re hiding, but fishing in the rain is a fun, challenging, and safe activity, as long as you’re prepared.
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