Deciding when the best time to load up all your fishing gear and hit the water is a big decision all anglers must make. After all, life is busy, time is limited, and no one wants to spend hours trying to catch fish that aren’t biting. For this reason we have written this article on when the best time to go fishing is for trout and bass, but this information can be applied to all species.
The best fishing times in terms of hours of the day is without a doubt the hours that mark the transition period of dawn and dusk. These early morning and evening hours are generally going to the best time of day to go fishing regardless of the species.
However, there are so many variables that influence a fish’s activity and feeding behavior that it’s difficult to accurately predict the best fishing times without also looking at other factors including time of year, weather patterns, water temperature, barometric pressure, moon phases and so on and so forth.
For this reason, we have put together this quick guide that will help you understand what influences fish behavior and how we can take advantage of this as anglers. This article will help you figure out when the best time to go fishing is in your area regardless of the season and conditions you may face.
But before we dive into the science and philosophy of the best fishing times, I’d like to point out that most of us go fishing whenever we have the time which is perfectly fine. Although there are certain times and seasons that can be exceptionally better than others, don’t let this discourage you from going whenever you get a chance. Smart anglers can figure out how to catch fish regardless of the conditions. After all, its not always about the number of fish you catch, but also about spending time outdoors and developing relationships with others.
Now enough talk, let’s dive into the details.
When is the best time of day to go fishing?
As we mentioned earlier, the best time to go fishing is typically early in the morning when the sun comes up and the last few hours of sunlight before the sun goes down. Fish are naturally more active during these times giving anglers better fishing opportunities. Although there plenty of other factors that effect the best fishing times which we will cover later there are also certain times/events where fishing can be lights out. Below are a few key factors that positively influence fishing success.
Best Fishing Times
- During morning sunrise and evening sunset
- During the rise and set of the moon
- When the barometer is consistently rising
- During consistent weather patterns
- When there is a hatch
- When the wind or breeze comes from the west rather than from the north or east
This is only a general guideline that should be used as a good starting point. The best time to go fishing may also vary due to the factors below.
- Time of year
- Water temperatures
- Light conditions
- Wind and speed direction
- Barometric pressure
- Weather patterns (e.g. cold fronts)
- Spawning behaviors
- Moon phases
- Water clarity (turbidity)
- Oxygen levels
(You can find more information on these fishing factors on fishranger.com)
As you can see there are several factors that can both positively and negatively influence fish activity. Each one of these aspects are important and can play a key role in your fishing success, but I think its easiest to determine the best fishing times in terms of seasons. Below we have put together some great information about catching trout and bass during the different seasons throughout the year.
Best Time to Catch Trout by Season
- Optimal water temperature: 40-67 degrees
- Best fishing season(s): warmer seasons when bugs are more active
- Best times: Early morning and evening
Many anglers often ask, ‘what is the best time of the day to catch trout’? In general, trout are most active and bite during feeding time when mosquitoes and bugs are most active, so the best fishing times are going to be in the warmer seasons. However, trout can be successfully caught all year round. Let’s look at each season individually to get a better idea on when the best time to fish for trout is.
Summer Trout Fishing
Best Times: Early mornings and at dusk are best
In the hot summer months, the best time to go fishing for trout is early in the mornings when the water temperatures are the coolest. Trout prefer the cooler water and will be more active during this time, making them easier to catch. The ideal fishing window during the summer is from right after sunrise until about 9:00am. Not only is it the best time to catch trout, but it’s also the only time in the summer you can catch them without adding additional stress to the fish.
Another great time to catch trout in the summer is at night. At dusk, the air cools down a bit which helps take the edge off the water for the trout and activity tends to pick up. Some of the best fishing can occur at dusk. There are plenty of great hatches during this time on rivers and lakes as well as trout become more active and aggressive.
Early Spring and Autumn Trout Fishing
Best Times: Afternoon or when the sun warms things up
In the cooler months when the water temperatures are generally colder, the warmest time of the day is going to be more productive. This is because there is not a lot of insect life with the colder temperatures early in the day. Once the sun comes out and things start to warm up, the whole eco system really begins to wake up again and fish will also become more active as a result.
Try fishing during the day when the sun has time to wake up all of the little insects. The warmth from the sun stimulates the environment, including the fish.
Winter Trout Fishing
Best times: early mornings and afternoon
Whether you are fishing on a river, lake, or ice fishing, winter can be a great time to target trout, but it does come with its own challenges. Trout are cold blooded and don’t have as much trouble maintaining their body temperatures, but falling temperatures result in less trout feed and activity which can result into a tougher bite. It’s important to slow down your retrieve and match their winter food source. In my experience, the best time to fish for trout in the winter is in the early mornings and afternoons.
Best time to catch Bass By Season
- Optimal water temperature: 55-67 degrees
- Best fishing season(s): Spring and Fall
- Best times: Early morning or late evening
Spring Bass Fishing
The spring months are a great time to go bass fishing. Early spring time is big bass time and is probably your best shot at catching a trophy. Bass will start to prepare for the spawn by feeding heavily and moving back to shallower water making them easier to catch. During the spring the best time to go bass fishing is going to be around dusk. If bass fishing is your game, spring time is the right time for you.
Recommended Baits & Techniques: lipless crankbaits, jerk baits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, glide baits
Summer Bass Fishing
The “dog” days of summer brings both opportunity and challenges. Hot summer temperatures can put bass in a bit of a lazy state, making them difficult to catch at times. The best time to go bass fishing in the summertime is by far in the early mornings and evenings, or on cloudy days.
Recommended Baits & Techniques: topwater, big worms, finesse techniques, crankbaits, and jigs
Fall Bass Fishing
Fall bass fishing can be a little strange, it can be one of the best times and one of the toughest. It is well known amongst many anglers that fall time is feeding time. Bass will start to aggressively feed for the winter ahead and will pretty much eat about anything, but this doesn’t always mean fast fishing. Much like the spring, the afternoon and evening periods are going to be your best chance at catching fish. Fall bass fishing has a lot to offer and can be one of the most exciting fishing times of the year.
Recommended Baits & Techniques: jigs, lipless crankbaits, jerk baits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, topwater
Winter Bass Fishing
Most avid bass fishing anglers dread the winter and it can by far be one of the most challenging time to find active fish, but it can also provide anglers the opportunity to catch their biggest fish of the season. The cold weather pushes bass offshore to their winter hideouts. The best bass fishing in the winter is either in the early in the morning or afternoon when things have had a chance to warm up.
Recommended baits & techniques: lipless crankbaits, jerk baits, tight wobbling crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and spoons
Final Fishing Thoughts
Let’s be honest, there really isn’t a bad time to go fishing, but there are certain times of the day and year where fishing really seems to turn on. Those are the days we dream of finding as anglers. I hope this information helps you decide when the best time to go fishing is regardless of the season. Be sure to check out some of our other great articles here at Tilt Fishing.