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Are Cloudy Days Good for Fishing? Do Fish Bite on Cloudy Days?

Two fisherman fishing on a fog.

We’ve probably all heard the adage, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” In order to follow philosopher Maimonides’ advice to the fullest, we have to learn not only how to fish, but also when to fish.

Are cloudy days good for fishing? Do fish bite on cloudy days? Yes, to both questions. Learn more about the many reasons and make your next day on the water a successful one.

Shady Out? Fish Longer!

Three senior citizens sitting and fishing.

Most of my earliest fishing trips started the same way – early in the morning. We needed time to load up gear and grab live bait, plus there was the ever-present danger of “losing out on the good spots.” Most of all, though, was the threat of being caught out in the hot sun without a bite.

Shady days, on the other hand, extend the time you have to get out there and the time you have to make a great catch. In addition to the typical early morning and later afternoon times, midday is just fine when it’s overcast out.

Summer Vs. Winter Clouds

That being said, not every cloudy day is going to be a good fishing day. A fish that is too cold or too hot will be seeking cover, not aggressively hunting for food.

Unless you’re targeting the warm-blooded Opah or an icy-veined species native to the Antarctic, you’re more likely to benefit from clouds in warmer seasons. Plan your cloudy weather bass fishing in the mild weather of summer or spring.

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Is Ice Fishing Better When It’s Cloudy?

A young man ice fishing on a sunny day.

Ice fishing for trout can be more challenging on cloudy days, however. The sun is not out warming up the water for you. So, this may be an exception.

Fish Bite Better On Cloudy Days

Fish not only bite but can actually bite better on cloudy days. Fish are more active with a little or a lot of sun cover for many reasons.

  • They Can Hunt Topwater Prey Better
  • Less Fear Of Predator Attacks
  • Cooler, More Comfortable Water All Day

Better Topwater Angling

I bet you’ve never seen a fish wink. That’s because fish don’t have eyelids. That can make looking for bait at the surface tough on sunny days.

Cloud cover makes the contrast more critical than your lure’s actual shade or sparkle. So, skip those glittery bits. Go for bright, bold colors or darker greens and browns.

Great For Talented Horizontal Anglers

Do you pride yourself on your horizontal fishing technique? Then a sky full of clouds is just what you want. Get your cadence and retrieval speeds in gear and get out there.

In lower-light conditions, your bait’s jerk, dart, dance, and twitch will stand out, but you won’t.

Game Fish Are More Spread Out

A man holding his catch trout in the river.

Fish like bass, trout, and catfish feel safer from predators in darker waters. They leave cover and spread out more. What does that mean for your fishing prospects? It means more opportunities over a greater area of water.

The Water Is Cooler

The more comfortable your game is, the more relaxed it is. If you’re used to scanning for cooler overhangs and tree cover as ideal casting targets on a sunny day, you’ll want to switch things up.

Clouds can be just the thing to cool off your favorite fishing hole and get the bass out to play.

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Baiting Is Simpler

Aren’t fish just dumb and hungry? After all, I’ve caught my share of fish with shrimp heads and even chunks of biscuit dough.

Fish may be more intelligent and pickier than you think, and that’s never more apparent than when you have a tackle box full of lures or a cooler full of bait and not a bite in sight. Your bait still matters on cloudy days, but it matters less when water visibility is lower.

A Dry Fly Fisherman’s Dream

Different type of fish bait hanging in the store.

Color is less vibrant underwater, even in bright, sunny weather. A red fly will look gray to a fish at 10 feet beneath the surface, and black in the dimmer light of greater depths. You don’t have to worry about this as much on the surface.

Since fish can see the surface easier on cloudy days, that makes your dry flies even more visible and appealing.

Best Fishing Bait For Overcast Weather

Want a good rule of thumb for choosing lures and bait for cloudy day fishing? The clearer the water, the more realistic the lure should be. The cloudier the water, the more visible the bait should be – think color, scent, shape, and how it moves.

Whether the sky is overcast or clear, you’re more likely to get good results by knowing the types of food your target game favors and matching that as closely as possible.

  • Realistic-Looking Lures In Clear Water
  • Bold Colored Lures In Murky Water
  • Topwater Lures / Surfaces – Fizzers, Frogs & Poppers
  • Moving Bait – Spinners, Swim Jigs, Jerkbaits & Underspin Lures
  • Live Bait – Worms, Crayfish, Crickets & Shrimp

What If It Starts To Rain?

After all, it’s not unheard of to get a few showers when the sky is overcast, right? Just apply the same rules to your choice of bait or lure and consider including even easier to see or notice options – add a slight vibration or sound.

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You don’t want to overdo things. Instead of getting lost in the murk and gloom, you want to make sure what you toss out there is saying, “Hey you! Look over here.”

Best Gray Day Fishing Locations

Gray, overcast weather not only hides your bait and line better, but it also hides you better. You’ll still want to keep the noise level down since fish have excellent hearing, but you are less likely to spook the fish whether you are in a boat or fishing from up on a dock or pier.

If you’ve been avoiding certain spots with worries about cast or shifting shadows as the day progresses, an overcast day may open up new avenues.

  • Docks & Piers
  • Inlets & Channels
  • Riverbanks
  • Grassy Shorelines
  • Bridges

What About Windy Weather?

A fish baits jumping above the waters.

Gray skies and windy weather often go hand in hand. On the one hand, this can mean less streamlined boat handling and a frustrating casting experience.

On the other hand, the wind stirs up the water and decreases water visibility. So, you get less wary, more aggressive fish who aren’t spooked by a bit of surface turbulence.

Where Will The Fish Be?

You’re more likely to get bites near typically shady spots or cover without having to cast into these areas. Additionally, since fish are more likely to be out and actively searching for food, you can always try in another area or at a different depth and get lucky.

Reliable Signs Of Aquatic Life

A woman wearing cap fishing on the river.

If you still don’t seem to be having any luck, take some time to check out the environment. Where are the bugs and the birds? Where do you hear frogs croaking?

Frogs will be where the insects are plentiful. Smaller bait fish will be after the same feast, and birds will be after the bait fish. In an underwater world of big fish eating little fish, I bet you can guess where the big fish will be hunting.