Anglers that tolerate fishing in the rain can be in for some tremendous action. Odds are you will have the lake to yourself and the fish are ready to bite.
During the rain, bass will be more active and on the prowl. Anglers chasing these fish should use lures that cover a lot of water and target areas that have fresh water dumping into the lake.
It is important to remember that we are talking about fishing during the rain, not fishing during a thunderstorm or torrential downpours. Imagine those gentle summer rains and now you have the recipe for a great day on the water.
What the Rain Does to Lakes and Rivers for Bass Anglers
Steady rain has a powerful impact on the waters we fish.
First, it adds much-needed oxygen to the ecosystem and this will pull bass shallower. The surface disturbance mixes the top part of the water column as well as hides our movements.
The locations I look for that have produced consistently in the past are areas where runoff is spilling into the lake or river. Not so much that it is resulting in mud, but just enough to create those key oxygen levels and some current.
The entire food chain benefits from this process.
The zooplankton hanging in the water column get stirred up. This attracts smaller baitfish and then the larger predators get into the action as well.
Bass that were in deep water before the rain can pull up and hang in areas less than a foot deep. Some of the biggest bass I have caught in the summer were in ultra-shallow water during a steady rain.
The current from the runoff is another key factor in positioning bass. This is especially true in the warmer months when the current may be barely noticeable or nonexistent. On highland reservoirs, this is often in the back of the creek arms and bays where the natural tributaries existed before the impoundment was created.
On natural lakes and ponds, there will be drainage areas that have formed over the years. These places can be subtle and hard to pick out, but the smallest depression is going to create a path for the water to flow and then spill into the lake.
River systems have a couple of options. First, there are smaller creeks dumping into the larger river, but there will also be drain tile from municipalities and farm fields spilling in. I have caught some tremendous bass hanging below these drainage tiles.
Other Key Locations to Find Bass in the Rain
Once I have exhausted the previous locations we talked about, I then focus on the shallow water along areas the bass have been hanging out.
This could be where a ledge meets a flat, the top of a point, or the backs of pockets adjacent to deeper water. In other words, where have the bass been sitting? Then go shallow from there. The fish will be active and roaming around looking for places to feed and pin baitfish.
This “pinning” will take place in ultra-shallow water. The lake or river bed, the shoreline, and the surface of the water act as the perfect trifecta and keep bait cornered.
One of my favorite tactics in the rain is to look for shorebirds. These master predators will reveal where there is abundant life. The bass will not be far away.
The Lures for Fishing in the Rain
The key is covering water.
The bass will be moving about and not holding in one area for long. Think about it like a dog roaming in a yard. While the dog may not move through the entire neighborhood, it will be covering the entire yard and then circling back around. The bass act in a very similar manner. They will patrol certain areas until they find that ultimate snack.
As anglers, we want to find the most active fish, and hopefully find a school of them feeding up in one spot. To do this efficiently we need to tie on lures that cover water and let us search for them.
Most horizontally moving lures can be excellent for this process, but I prefer to use baits that I can impart some erratic action to. While the bass likely are feeding, I still want a lure that plays off of reaction bites. This gives an angler the best of both possible scenarios.
For me, these lures are going to be suspending jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, swim jigs, and squarebill crankbaits.
The suspending jerkbait is my favorite because I can cast it a mile, it draws a ton of strikes with its side-slashing action, and it helps me locate fish very fast. In cloudy conditions I opt for solid patterns instead of the flashier offerings I may use on sunny days.
Spinnerbaits are a close second. The thump of the blades adds another key element and a spinnerbait is also good at mimicking a small group of baitfish. During the rain, I will try a steady or burning retrieve, but often will start, stop, and bounce the lure. This triggers those reaction bites.
My favorite rainy-day spinnerbait is white or white and chartreuse.
The swim jig is a top choice when fishing in much shallower water with lots of cover like weeds and wood. The design of the lure allows it to slip through this type of habitat with ease, yet I can still cover a large area.
My favorite retrieve is a standard pulsing, wounded baitfish presentation but there are times when the Alabama shake is the right look to get the job done. My swim jig fishing rotates between white and bluegill patterns. For the soft plastic trailer, I absolutely love the Rage Menace twin-tail grub.
There will also be a rod with a squarebill crankbait ready. The lure size may vary from ultra-small to quite large, but the presentation is almost always the same – burning.
I will bring that lure back to me as fast as I can with a start-stop retrieve.
Burning a squarebill is one of the most effective reaction presentations an angler can use and it will draw some violent strikes. And like the others, it is perfect for covering lots of water and finding fish.
Topwater Lures and Bass Fishing in the Rain
There are many anglers that will say that topwater fishing is the best in the rain – and it works, but if you want to fish the surface there are some factors to keep in mind.
One, it is best when there is only a slight rain.
I have done filming tests in the rain from underwater and it is difficult to distinguish the lure from the rest of the rain hitting the surface. Of course, the lure offers up a different vibration signature, but visually it will not stand out like we think it does.
Next, use a larger lure or one that has a bigger profile.
These same experiments have shown me that the larger profiles offer an easier target in the rain. The bigger Whopper Ploppers, larger walking baits, and buzzbaits like the Toad Buzz, are going to present a better and clearer image for the bass to zero in on.
If there is some wind mixed in with the rain, then I will usually switch to one of the four lures mentioned earlier.
(Here is an article about where bass go when it’s windy.)
Good luck and make sure to encourage someone today. You never know how you may change their life forever.