The Ultimate Guide to Bass Fishing in the Rain
Understanding how to fish for bass before, during, and after a storm is essential to mastering the art and science that is bass fishing.
Bass fishing is an exciting sport. There's room for many people with many skill levels. It can be done socially or independently. It can be done at leisure, or in fierce competition. There's no feeling like putting in the time to figure out a body of water, to finally be rewarded with a new personal best (PB) after months, if not years, of effort and painstaking experimentation. Over the years there have been many technological advancements that have changed the sport to some degree, but without the knowledge of some basic weather patterns and how they affect the behavior of largemouth and smallmouth bass, you're only going to get so far.
Understanding how to fish for bass before, during, and after a storm is essential to mastering the art and science that is bass fishing. Here, I am going to give you an overview that will help you take advantage of one of the best bass fishing opportunities that you'll ever have! And, hopefully, it will land you some trophy bass to impress your friends and fishing buddies!
Before Heading Out
I know it's exciting and tempting to just head out to the lake and start chucking baits. However, before you get out on the water, you have some things to consider so that you are able to efficiently manage all of your gear and your time.
First, you'll need rain protection for yourself. For a misting or a sprinkle, you can get by with a light poncho or a windbreaker, but for heavier rainstorms, you'll need to step it up a notch. You can find a wide range of rain gear like raincoats and boots at a wide array of prices. You don't have to drop a whole paycheck on a rain jacket, but remember that you usually get what you pay for and you don't want to find yourself stranded. I'd also recommend an often overlooked piece of bass fishing gear; a nice headlamp. That'll help you out when you need to tie on a new lure or to unhook a feisty bass and get it safely back in the water.
For managing your tackle, I'd recommend having some of your tackle put aside for exactly this occasion. You don't want to be fumbling around and wasting time going through unnecessary lures to get to the one you want. A few utility boxes with a concise, but well-rounded, collection of lures can save you lots of time. A tackle bag with a shoulder strap can help you manage your tackle more easily, especially when you're in the rain and trying to keep your gear safe at your side.
Most of the rain fishing I do is from the bank to avoid a sudden downpour or thunder and lightning, so everything I'm talking about here will be geared for that, but the principles remain the same whether you're out on a boat or fishing from a dock. This is also going to be geared towards fishing with lures but the principles remain.
Also, I know it's hard to hear but please be safe and don't be a hero. In the case of thunder and lightning, you don't want to be out there holding onto an 8ft graphite swimbait rod.
What To Bring With You
Let's talk a bit about the setups that you'll want to have with you. I personally find casting gear easier to manage. I don't get all of my combos tangled up as easily as with baitcasters as I do with spinning setups. I also usually throw heavier lures and reaction baits like buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, or chatterbaits, and I find casting gear to be the best for handling those techniques.
I have so many setups it can be hard to parse out which to bring with me, but ideally, I like to have 3 combos with me. That way I'm not wasting my time cutting off lures and tying on others, and so I can have the ideal gear to get big fish to the bank as quickly and safely as possible. I will start by having one set-up for topwater, another for the middle of the water column, and another for bottom contact baits. You can manage with less depending on what you have available, but that's what I find works best for me in a perfect world.
You'll want to have an assortment of lures with you. You'll be primarily looking at topwater baits and reaction baits, but worms and jigs have their place especially during a lull or after the storm has passed. Spinnerbaits with big Colorado blades thrown in the midst of a downpour are one of my biggest producers.
My Frog Set-Up
For more on frog fishing for bass, check out this article!
My Buzzbait Set-Up
Plan of Attack
Here I'm going to layout a bit of strategy for approaching an oncoming storm. Rainstorms can be frustrating if you're not sure what you're doing, but with a little bit of forethought, you can catch plenty of bass in a relatively short amount of time.
Before the Rain Begins
Right before a storm, the low barometric pressure signals to fish that a storm is coming. When the pressure drops, it triggers bass into a feeding frenzy and will be your best time to catch numbers of bass. I usually come in strong and if I'm not getting bites I move on. As long as it's not in the early spring before the fish have started to spawn, I'll start with a buzzbait or another topwater bait like a Whopper Plopper. If there's any time that I'd put money on the bite being hot, it would be right before a storm with a topwater bait. With less light, loud topwater baits call bass out from where they're hiding. From there I'd go to a spinnerbait or a chatterbait before moving on. Also, I always look for where ducks and geese are located to guide where I'll start my casting.
Frogs are also a good option in the summer when frogs are active. If I'm ever going to be using a popper frog, it'll be right before a storm. They can be worked more subtly or aggressively depending on what the fish are after.
During the Storm
As the precipitation begins, I look for inlets or dams where runoff water will be draining. With the rain comes, nutrients flow towards these concentrated areas. In turn, baitfish will gravitate towards the nutrient-rich water, and the bass will be close behind them. This is why I begin to focus on these areas using a spinnerbait or a chatterbait. A spinnerbait with a big Colorado blade can be deadly because, with their lateral lines, bass can sense the lure's location when the rain comes pouring down. Chatterbaits can also make a lot of vibration which can attract big bass.
In mild conditions with clearer water, I'll throw a swim jig or small swimbait. In muddy water or heavier rain, you'll do better with a lure that displaces more water and puts out a greater vibration. Also, when you're targeting deeper water you're going to want a heavier lure that puts out a lot of vibration. This is one place where a squarebill crankbait will really shine.
After the Rain Subsides
Particularly after thunderstorms, you'll find that the fish activity slows down substantially. This is when you'll need to slow down your approach significantly and where your bottom contact will be most useful. As worms, grubs, and other small prey items are washed into the water from the bank and from the trees, these areas are where you want to spend your time. In clear water, you'll want to use more natural colors, but if the water is muddy, black and Junebug soft plastics will be your best bet.
Whether you're a complete newbie, a weekend warrior, or a pro-grade tournament angler, there's a place for you in the world of bass fishing. Now that you understand the basic principles needed to attack any body of water while a storm front approaches and passes over it, you're well on your way to landing that new PB! Reach out to a Fishing Expert here on Curated for free, personalized advice and gear recommendations—we'd love to get you out on the water, catching some trophies!