Bass Fishing on Cloudy Days: The Right Approach Matters

Bass adjust to the conditions almost instantly. Bass anglers need to as well.

On cloudy and overcast days bass are more likely to roam away from cover. Using lures presented in a horizontal manner, like spinnerbaits and swim jigs, allows anglers to cover water and find active bass.

When I see that the skies are overcast I know immediately that my approach is going to be different. My mindset goes from one of fishing spots to covering an area.

Bass Behavior on Cloudy and Overcast Days

Bass lack eyelids. This inability to shield their eyes from intense sunlight positions fish into predictable locations when the rays are intense. 

When the light beating down into the water is absent the bass are much more likely to roam, increase their striking distance, and be found in areas they normally would not be on a sunny day.

Gray and overcast days are also likely to include some wind and even rain. 

All of these conditions work together to put the bass in a mindset that works to our advantage when using the right lures and presentations.

Bass will move away from cover and start to roam in low-light situations.

The Best Approach to Catch Bass on Cloudy Days

As mentioned earlier, I break my fishing down into two basic categories: fishing with vertical lures and presentations and horizontal lures and presentations.

Cloudy days are best matched with horizontal presentations.

These types of lures are used to cover water and find bass. As anglers, we are looking for aggressive fish that are willing to attack a lure. On overcast days, I am not looking to pick apart a single piece of cover with a slow moving presentation.

The trolling motor is cranking away and my goal is to cover as much shoreline as possible. If I am shore fishing, I want to keep walking and approach the day the same way I would if I was in a boat.

Where to Start Fishing on Cloudy Days

I always start where the wind is hitting the bank the most direct. Many anglers avoid the wind because of casting and/or boat control.

The wind provides anglers some key advantages. It creates a disturbance on the surface of the water that keeps our presence more hidden than on calm days. Wind also stirs up the food chain and gets bass in the mood to eat.

When the wind is blowing, bass are apt to be found anywhere along a stretch of shoreline. Don’t dismiss the open water between obvious targets. When our favorite game fish gets in the mood to chase they will pull far away from cover if the meal looks easy enough to grab.

Picture in your mind the wind pushing microorganisms, like zooplankton, into the shoreline. The small baitfish, crawfish, and panfish will start to feed on them. Where the prey is – the bass will be found.

Lures That I Use on Cloudy Days

The main objective when choosing a lure is to tie one on that is presented in a horizontal manner.

This includes choices like spinnerbaits, crankbaits, swim jigs, both hard and soft jerkbaits, and topwaters. Each of these are best suited to certain conditions that you may run across on cloudy and overcast days.

A single Colorado blade, like on this Strike King Tour Grade Night, is an excellent cloudy day option.

Cloudy Day Spinnerbait Fishing

The first thing I am going to do is choose a spinnerbait that has Colorado or Indiana blades. I may even select one that has a single, big Colorado blade.

The traditional willow-leaf blade is best-suited for some sunshine. They reflect the light and create flashes similar to what schools of minnows or baitfish would create on a bright day.

The Colorado and Indiana blades are better for “thump” and create a more defined sound signature. Overcast and cloudy days mean bass cannot see as clearly and having a lure that is tuned in to their lateral lines is a good choice.

Keep the bait darting, dancing, and twitching on the retrieve. When possible, smash it into anything you find – dock pilings, wood, and rocks. If there is vegetation, let it snag the tops and then rip it free.

The goal is to imitate a baitfish that is not well. This triggers the natural predatory instinct in the bass. You will catch many more fish with an erratic retrieve than one that is a straight chunk-and-wind.

Crankbait Fishing for Bass on Cloudy Days

There are two types of crankbaits to consider based on what you have in front of you – squarebills and deep divers.

If the water you are fishing is shallower with lots of cover, then I am picking a squarebill. When things are a little deeper I will choose the appropriate deep diving crankbait.

Either style of lure will get first nod when the primary structure is rock and a clean bottom composition. Crankbaits excel in this type of situation.

The same approach is key – keep the retrieve erratic and bang that lure into everything you can. If the squarebill is tied on, make sure to try burning it. This lure can be reeled as fast as you possibly can and it will draw bass from a long distance. The approach is tiring, but it works and works well.

Straight-Tail soft jerkbaits come through vegetation with ease and mimic wounded prey.

Swim Jigs and Soft Jerkbaits for Cloudy Days

I love these lures when there is a lot of vegetation and not as much wind. Even calm conditions on cloudy days are perfect for these two lures.

Soft jerkbaits, especially straight-tail models, will do better in very heavy vegetation.

My goal when fishing these two lures is still to cover a lot of water and make an easy meal for that big ‘ol bass.

Twitch that soft jerkbait and then let it sink, slowly. Then twitch it again. Then toss in a skipping minnow retrieve for a bit. Keep mixing it up and see what the bass want on that day. 

When using the swim jig, imagine a baitfish that is struggling to stay afloat. It will kick to get up in the water column and then sink back down slightly. Try to make that lure look like a high-percentage easy target and the bass will notice it.

The swim jig is also adept at coming through sparse vegetation. 

Keep moving down the shore with both lures and make sure to hit that open water too.

Hard Jerkbaits are one of my favorite lures for catching numbers of bass.

Hard Jerkbait Fishing for Cloudy Day Bass

This approach may be my favorite. It works on windy days and calm days and when the bite is on, a suspending jerkbait can bring a flurry of action that you won’t ever forget. It can be that good.

I’m talking the potential for bass being caught on every cast for a period of time.

A hard jerkbait will get the top-billing when I am confident the bass are hanging out in water that is less than fifteen feet deep. 

Choose a model that gets close to the cover or structure that is present. If water is 10-15 feet I will use a deep diving jerkbait like the KVD 300 Deep. If the water is really shallow, or the tops of the vegetation is around that four foot mark, I will use the KVD 100.

The most important factor is the presentation. Always, always, always rip the jerkbait on a slack line. This allows for the most side-to-side action and it will drive the bass crazy.

Cloudy Day Bass Fishing with Topwater Lures

Overcast days can create a topwater bite that lasts for hours. 

I choose a topwater based on the wind and the cover in front of me. If there is some chop on the water, I will opt for a larger walking lure. If it is calm, a popper is an excellent choice.

I will use buzzbaits when there is wood or lots of docks. I also like to throw a buzzbait over the tops of weedbeds that are almost emergent. 

All three of these topwaters can cover lots of water and find aggressive fish. 

Final Thoughts

Cloudy day bass fishing is about real estate. Move down that shoreline and find those more aggressive fish. 

There are going to be bass that are out and roaming around and not always in the traditional places that are dynamite on sunny days. 

With the right approach we can not only find them but also catch numbers of bass. Using a lure that is brought back with a horizontal retrieve is the recipe for cloudy day success.

Be safe, good luck, and don’t forget to encourage someone today. You never know how you may change their life forever.

Isaiah 6:8

Steve Rogers

Steve spends his time filming and writing about bass fishing. You may even see him in your area. If so, stop and say "hi."

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