What Time of Day Is Best to Fish?

Knowing when the right time of day to go fishing can make a big difference when it comes to how much enjoyment and productivity you get out of your excursions.

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For many fishermen, fishing is an activity they might look forward to for weeks, or even months, in advance. A lot of planning goes into fishing trips, and that makes proper preparation beforehand a must. Because of this, knowing when the right time of day to go fishing can make a big difference when it comes to how much enjoyment and productivity you get out of your excursions.

Each time of day has its own pros and cons when it comes to how effective fishing is. There is no one tried-and-true time where all the fish in the water are actively perusing for bait, but there are certainly times of the day that offer more lucrative fishing opportunities to fishermen than others. With a little bit of knowledge beforehand, you should have no trouble planning the perfect fishing trip and getting to the waters at just the right time to maximize bites.

For those who would like a better idea of the specific advantages and disadvantages certain times of the day offer to fishermen, we've broken it down in this article. Overall, while morning and evening will typically provide the best fishing hours for most fishermen, daytime and nighttime may also have their place in the fisherman's schedule depending on climate and time of year. If you would like to know more, read on to find out exactly how to optimize your time on the water, regardless of climate or season.

Table of Contents

The Pros and Cons of Different Fishing Times

Fishing in the Morning

Morning is the time when water temperatures are typically going to be at their lowest point. This makes the morning an ideal time to fish during seasons where temperatures may get too excessively hot during the day, such as during the summer or certain parts of late spring. Besides this obvious benefit, the morning is also one of the least crowded times for most open bodies of water, meaning you are less likely to get noisy crowds scaring away potential bites.

Another positive aspect of fishing in the morning time is that many fish are actively out biting and looking for insects for breakfast. This is both because they are hungry from the night before and because the lowered conditions of the light that the morning hours offer help them see insects more clearly. However, this may also make it so they are more discerning about what type of bait or lure you are using.

The one caveat to fishing in the early hours of the morning is that fishing isn't likely to be out all that early if you are fishing during the late fall or winter. While morning temperatures are ideal during the hotter times of the year, the decreased temperatures of the morning may be too much for some fish during the winter. These fish will stay largely inactive until the sun comes out closer to the afternoon.

Fishing in the Afternoon

During the late spring and early summer, fishing in the earlier parts of the afternoon can be seen as a tough prospect. Not only are the temperatures oftentimes unbearable for humans, but the high temperatures will also make it so any fish in the waters are scurrying to the deepest, darkest, and most hidden depths of the water in search of cool pockets. On top of this, the increased light tells many fish that it's time to hide, as their predators are out looking for them.

However, if the weather is overcast, or if you are fishing in the fall or winter, you may get more luck out of fishing in the daytime than you would in the morning. In these cases, while lighting and temperatures may be too low for most fish in the morning, they will be just right around the time afternoon comes around. As well, many fishermen may find the daytime to be the only appropriate time to fish if the weather is too cold at other times of the day, as it may be during the worst months of the winter.

Fishing in the Early Evening

The evening time poses some similar benefits to fishermen as the early morning does. This is true both because many fish are active and biting, looking for their dinner, but also because environmental conditions traditionally help facilitate increased activity in fish during the evening. The temperatures aren't too high and the sun's not too bright, which means that most fish will feel comfortable coming out of their hiding spots and looking for some insects to feast on.

Similar to morning, as well, is the caveat that evening fishing won't be so lucrative during late fall and the majority of the winter, or any other time when temperatures are dropping too low or the weather is overcast. For many fishermen during these times of the year, fishing in the brightest hours of the day may still be the only lucrative option. However, for people in more mild conditions and during warmer months, fishing during either the morning or the evening may give you the advantage that you need. 

Fishing at Night

While nighttime fishing might not always be a possibility for all fishermen at all times of the year and in all climates, it can actually be fairly lucrative for the right kind of fisherman in the right location. Although some fish will have already called it a day and headed to their homes, many larger fish, such as walleye, catfish, and bass, see their most productive feeding hours occurring after sundown. For this reason, those who have their sights set on a trophy fish may find the nighttime to be their ideal window. As well, the light of the moon is oftentimes the perfect lighting arrangement for your lure, accentuating it along the surface of the water in a way that the light of the day is just too strong to do.

Of course, the major issue with nighttime fishing is the temperature. Even in the hottest months of the year, temperatures may decrease an incredible amount as soon as the sun goes down. For this reason, nighttime fishing can be seen as a little bit of a race against the clock. Still, for the right fisherman, this small allotted window can still oftentimes pose a great time fishing.

Other Things to Consider

Besides the general patterns of fish in the water, there are some other aspects related to the time of day that may affect how much you enjoy your time spent fishing. To truly get the most out of your planned fishing trip, carefully consider all of the following before deciding on when and where you cast your line.

Changing Tides

For those who like to do their fishing in the saltwater, tides will pose a whole separate issue to fishermen that is largely affected by what time of day it is. Different fishermen may have a preference for whether they like fishing in the incoming tide or the outgoing tide. Largely, though, fishing during a waning slack tide is considered a no-go. 

Unpredictable Weather

Weather is another thing that can greatly affect how lucrative certain periods of the day are for fishermen, and they are not quite as easy to predict as the changing tides. Whereas tides typically come and go like clockwork, weather has no set schedule and can come and go as it pleases. Of course, there are weather forecasts and there are times of the year, and climates, where bad weather is a greater possibility. In these times and locations, fishing during certain hours of the day may prove exceedingly tricky.

Safety and Comfort

On top of whether or not fish are biting, fishermen should consider whether fishing during a certain time of the day is good for their health or safety. Of course, fishing in excessive heat or excessive cold poses it's own dangers, with the lack of fish bites being essentially the least of your worries. For these reasons, be sure to take your own personal comfort into consideration when deciding on the best time to try and catch some fish.

Something to think about when fishing at night is the general plethora of mosquitoes you are likely to encounter. While these mosquitoes may be a tasty treat to the fish, they are a nuisance at best, and a health hazard at worst, to the potential fisherman. Taking some careful considerations before going out on the waters at night, then, should be seen as a must.

Whatever time of the day you'd like to fish, it's simply a matter of preparation. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and light clothes can make fishing in the heavy sunlight a breeze. As well, bringing along some mosquito repellent can help alleviate the annoyance of buzzing bugs.

Finally, those looking to head out to do some nighttime fishing should always be sure to bring along a good source of light, as well as some back-up bulbs and batteries, just in case. While the light of the moon may often be enough to guide you, it can be fairly inconsistent. In the outdoors, there are likely a good number of creatures prowling about in the nighttime hours that you won't want to run into, so knowing where you are and where you're going is important.

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