Trout still feed and bite in the rain. The rain assists in bringing more food on and into the water. Rain also washes dirt into the water, taking away the clarity. The cloudy water causes trout to act aggressively and use the lower light to their advantage.
A rainy day of fishing is never a waste. Speak to any serious trout angler; they likely have a story of toughing out the rain and experiencing one of the best bites of their life. A change in weather changes fish behavior; sometimes, it shuts the bite down, but there are other days when it flips a switch.
Will Trout Bite in the Rain
Don’t make the mistake of thinking trout go into hiding once it rains. When I first started fly fishing for trout, I’d run for cover under a tree and wait out any rain. I thought that since I like sunny weather, so would the trout. When my brother convinced me to continue fishing through the rain, I realized how aggressive trout become when the rain starts.
Trout continue to feed throughout rainstorms. The rain knocks flies onto the water’s surface, creating more food options for trout. Whether they fall out of the sky or off vegetation on the banks, the rain acts as an insect delivery service.
The rain also washes insects, worms, and other food sources into the water. Baitfish begin to feed on these new food sources. Once the baitfish start feeding, the trout starts.
They’ll eat the baitfish and the food that’s washed into the water.
Combine the new food sources with the stained water, and you have a recipe for a feeding frenzy. I often have to wait 10-15 minutes for the rain to make an impact. In my experience, the feeding stops immediately, but once the food washes into the water, it’s go time.
I’ve spent many sunny mornings and early afternoons on the water with few bites. As soon as the afternoon storm rolls in, the fish react to the change in pressure and feed. I knew leaving the water during the storm would cost me a chance at landing all the fish I had tried for the rest of the day.
Trout Fishing in Rain
Trout fishing in the rain requires a few different tactics than you would use in the sunshine. You get to stay aggressive and work some larger lures and flies.
Be prepared to switch your fly or lure and method you’re fishing when the rain starts. You’ll want to take advantage of what it provides you.
Fly Fishing in Rivers During the Rain
Fly fishing rivers in the rain is best done with nymph rigs. Since the rain pushes flies below the surface, it makes sense to fish with wet flies. I’ll use brighter and heavier flies that drop in the water column.
Pat’s Rubber Legs, Stonefly Nymphs, bright Prince Nymphs, and Pink Squirrels are some of my favorites. I’ll also use San Juan Worms and mop flies.
The brighter flies stand out in the stained water. If the flashier, attractant patterns don’t work, I move to black, green, tan, or white flies to keep a more natural appearance. I still stay large.
I’ll cast my nymph along the banks. Trout move towards the banks when the rain starts because of all the food that washes into the water from the vegetation and rocks. Casting upstream and letting your fly drift along the bank is the perfect technique.
If it’s especially rainy, I’ll tie on an indicator to let me know when I get a strike. It makes it far easier to keep track of my flies.
If I see large insects wash onto the surface, I’ll switch to a dry-dropper rig. A Chubby Chernobyl or ant pattern paired with a rubber legs or a mop fly is perfect. I can cover multiple levels of the water column and see exactly what the fish want.
If the nymph rig or dry-dropper isn’t working, I’ll switch to streamers. Swinging streamers through seams and pools almost always works. During the rain, trout hope to take advantage of feeding baitfish.
My favorite way is casting up and across the stream, letting the fly drift across my body and swing across the current towards me. As soon as the fly is directly below me, I strip it in and cast again.
Fly Fishing in Lakes During the Rain
I fish closer to the lake shore during the rain. The rain washes food and nutrients into the lake, and trout take advantage of it. I like to look for areas along the shore that are deep. A sudden drop-off is perfect.
The trout can feed from the bottom. They’ll see my fly hit the water and shoot up from the depths to eat. I’ll look for drop-offs or heavy cover when I can’t find a deep section near shore. Trout move into the stained water and take advantage of the easy meals.
Usually, I fish heavy nymphs or streamers during the rain. Wooly Buggers, Clouser Minnows, Crayfish, Stonefly nymphs, Hex Nymphs, Pink Squirrels, and Prince Nymphs are some of the most effective.
For my dries, I also stick with attractor patterns. Big, bright flies that stick out in the stained water.
Spin Fishing in Lakes and Rivers
Whether fishing lures or live bait, I fish near the bottom in the rain. I like to cast near the shore and bounce my bait along the edge and bottom. As long as my bait and lures move water, I’m happy.
Lures that flash and make noise, like Rapalas, Mepps Spinners, and Panther Martins, are some of the best options. I’ll cast these into deep areas near shore and begin a varied retrieve. I want to get the attention of all the nearby fish.
I’ll sometimes use heavy flies when I’m spin-fishing. Beadhead wooly buggers, weighted Clouser Minnows, and weighted bunny leeches are some of my favorites. These are easy to cast and cover a ton of water.
I’ll move to larger options if my usual-sized lures don’t work. I want to stand out during all the other chaos, and moving larger is sometimes the best bet.
For live bait, I like to use nightcrawlers and shiner minnows. I’ll cast these into the shallow areas and let them sit. I almost always attach a float when fishing with live bait. It gives me a better idea of when I’m getting a strike.
Take advantage of the aggressive trout. The rain presents phenomenal feeding opportunities, and we should maximize the opportunities. These feeding frenzies don’t happen very often.
Don’t be like most anglers and run for cover when the rain starts. Trout feed during the rain, and they’re willing to eat most things you throw their way. It’s uncommon for them to throw caution to the wind and go into an all-out feeding frenzy, but rainy days present these opportunities. With bright lures, bait, and proper casts, you’ll find yourself catching sizable trout.