Trout Fishing After Rain: Fishing is Always Worth the Wait

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Danny fly fishing for Trout in New Mexico

Fishing for trout after rain requires anglers to adapt. The rain may have blown out the stretch of water you’re fishing, and it may be unfishable, but that doesn’t mean everything is worthless. Rain provides fresh oxygen and stirs up insects, so trout look to eat right after the rainfall.

One of my first fly fishing trips was to British Columbia in search of native and wild rainbow trout. As much as we begged for nice weather, sporadic rain followed us everywhere. No matter what we did, we had to dodge rain, fish through it, and get to the water as soon as it stopped. I thought it’d ruin our trip, but it quickly proved otherwise. 

Trout Fishing After It Rains 

I’ve spent many mornings and evenings sitting in the cab of my vehicle in my waders, waiting for the downpour to stop and worrying about what the river will look like once it’s all done. 

Depending on the water, it’ll look like nothing happened, and other waters look like somebody dumped the world’s largest supply of chocolate milk into it. 

Finding success after rain presents a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Fish want to feed, but their hiding places become more challenging to find. After the rain, fish become less cautious, and large fish feed on the smaller, more active fish. 

Reading Water 

Once that rain stops, look at the water you were fishing. Was it clear, and now it’s cloudy? Does it look dark brown? Does it look like it’s moving higher onto the banks? Properly reading the water after the rain is imperative for catching trout. 

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you will have to change some of your methods. Fish no longer feed the same; some may have moved from their original positions. 

After a rain, you want to look for slack water close to the bank. As the rain falls, it brings valuable food and nutrients into the water. Insects, worms, crustaceans, and other food sources wash into the water. Trout wait close to the banks in the slack water in hopes of feeding. 

If you can cast upstream along the banks and let your bait drift into the slack water, odds are a trout is waiting to pounce on whatever you’re throwing. You likely won’t be able to cast across the river or stream like you could before the rain hit. Stick close and look for areas of calm water. 

Pools may form further up on the banks, and they’re some of my favorite places to start right after the rainfall.

Blown Out Stream after a Rain
Blown Out Stream after a Rain

Trout Activity and Fishing Tactics

Right after rain, trout don’t want to fight the current. They want easy access to food or slack water that doesn’t pull them downstream. As mentioned, they know food falls into the water during and right after the rain, so they don’t stay too far away from the bank. 

They’ll also sit behind boulders, rocks, fallen logs, and between rapids where the current slows considerably. 

Plus, the rain stirs up insect activity within the water. Nymphs and larvae along the bottom become more active, often leading to a feeding frenzy. If trout aren’t next to the bank in shallow water feeding, they’re likely in the same pools they were before the rain. It doesn’t necessarily matter the time of day of the rain. When the food gets stirred up, trout can’t help but start feeding. 

They’re likely sitting near the bottom towards the front of the pool, waiting for food to wash into it. The bottom of the river has less current, so they don’t have to fight it even if they’re only sitting within the pool. 

Rain means food, so any section of water that looks like it holds food is an excellent place to fish. 

In lakes, trout aren’t as worried about water depth or current. However, they also want to get in on the feeding action. They’ll move into shallower water because food is nearby, it’s more cloudy, and they’re not as worried about predators. 

Whether you’re fishing in a river or lake after a rain, cover water. Trout become even more unpredictable, so don’t get married to the usual spots you like to fish. Work upstream or around the lake to find different areas where the fish sit. You’ll be surprised at where the fish might hide. 

I was fishing a medium-sized river in Montana right after a rain, and I couldn’t find them anywhere. I tried pools, slack water along the banks, and anywhere the current looked slow. It wasn’t until I walked 200 yards upriver and cast behind a 10-foot boulder that I found the fish. 

The trout were stacked on top of each other, feeding on adult salmon flies that had washed off the rock and fallen into the river. 

Brown Trout caught in rain
Brown Trout Caught in Rain

Lures, Baits, and Flies

One of the best advantages you can give yourself directly after a rain is to use the proper lure. Right after rain, water becomes less clear, so finding food isn’t as easy for the fish. As a result, they need more vibrant and larger lures to locate them. 

Lures

Colorful Mepps Spinners, Panther Martins, and Kwikfish lures help trout locate them on their lateral line, and they’ll move in for the strike. 

These lures in bright colors also help. The cloudier water makes locating lures more challenging, so bright colors are effective. The vibration of these lures is exactly what you need. 

Don’t feel the need to fish as small as you normally would. The large fish move out of their hiding places after the rain because they have more protection, and the increase in activity from smaller fish and insects makes it too good of a time to feed. Larger lures are great to try right after a rain. 

Live Bait

If the water you’re fishing allows live bait, don’t venture far from worms and minnows. Worms prove their worth after the rain because they wash off the banks and fall directly into the water. 

Trout don’t regularly get access to worms. Any access to worms is a treat for them. Fish them below a float or pair them with a few split shots to help them float freely in the water column. 

Minnows also work extremely well in the rain. Minnows feed on whatever they can find, and trout are close behind in pursuit. 

Fish them paired with a few weights to allow them the chance to float freely and naturally in the current. Hook them right behind the dorsal fin, and they’ll stay active longer. 

Flies

When I’m fly fishing after a rain, there are a few flies I always use. I like to pair a large Pat’s Rubber Legs with a San Juan Worm and see what strikes. I’ll cast my flies upstream and let them drift naturally into the areas I think trout hold. 

If neither of these flies work, I switch to Woolly Buggers and Clouser Minnows. These streamers move water and get the attention of nearby trout. I’ll have them in bright and natural colors and do some experimenting to see what the trout want. 

The buggier-looking nymphs and streamers are the most effective after a rain. Trout don’t always want to eat smaller flies, so I always try to fish bigger flies in hopes of landing a trophy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Trout Fishing Better Before or After a Storm? 

Generally, trout fishing is better before a storm. Trout sense the change in pressure, and it usually triggers some feeding. However, the water is usually cloudier after a storm, and the bigger fish get bolder and venture out to feed.   

Is it Good to Go Fishing the Day After it Rains? 

Fishing the day after it rains is a good option depending on the water clarity. Look for areas where creeks run into the main river or lake. The clear creek water is highly oxygenated and provides some relief from the cloudier water.

How Do You Catch Trout in Murky Water?

Use larger, brighter lures that move water. Trout still feed, but it’s harder for them to locate food. The larger lures make their lives easier. 

Conclusion

Trout fishing after rain is all about trial and error. Look for slack water, and don’t get stuck in the same spot. The more water you cover, the better. You never know where the trout want to sit. Prepare yourself with large and colorful lures that move water and gain the attention of nearby trout. The more attention you bring your lures, the better. Trout want to feed right after the rain, so make it easy for them. 

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