Is Deep Sea Fishing Better After Rain?

Many anglers have varied opinions on what the best fishing conditions are. Some prefer dusk, others dawn, some prefer winter, and others yet prefer spring or autumn. However, anglers have strong feelings about whether deep-sea fishing is better after rain, and the answer may surprise you.

Deep sea fishing is better before the rain. While fishing after the rain may benefit anglers targeting certain species like cobia, mackerel, or tuna, most fish species remain “hidden.” However, the amount of rain, season, wind, and other factors are critical in how successful you are fishing after rain.

While many anglers don’t opt for fishing after a storm or heavy rains, some find it creates desirable conditions. Below we’ll investigate which fish are better caught after rain (and why) and the pros and cons of fishing after rain.

trolling rods in holders under cloudy sky

What You Need to Know About Deep Sea Fishing After Rain

While anglers targeting specific fish species enjoy the post-rain fishing conditions, most prefer pre-event fishing and find it a better experience.

However, the quintessential question is, “How hard was the rain?”

If light rain lasted for an hour or two, the impact would be less severe (some species spike in activity in lighter rain) than if it was a heavy storm that lasted several days.

Before a storm (heavy rain) hits, there is a change in air (barometric) pressure, which fish sense, thanks to their swim bladders. This shift causes a behavioral change in many species, leading to increased feeding to accommodate the imminent period of forced fasting (no food).

Fish know that a storm brings rough waters, which require significantly more energy to swim through, resulting in periods of less activity during the rough conditions. Most fish swim deeper to accommodate the lessened air pressure with increased water pressure.

 Directly after a storm, the water may take some time to settle to an acceptable level for fish. Some species have higher energy demands and need to find food soon after the rain passes, while other species are happy to wait out the lower pressure.

Rain Changes The Water’s Properties

Fish living in estuaries alter their stratification (where they occur in the vertical water column) after rain, thanks to increased dissolved oxygen levels and other nutrients moving into the water body.

While sudden rains influence deep sea fish less, there are significant differences in their movement patterns during the wet and dry seasons, respectively.

Depending on the amount of rain and the duration of the rain, it cools the surface water.

Ocean water exists in different strata (layers) of warm and cold water, and fish have preferred ranges. Changes in temperature after rain (and the movement of oxygen between bands) influence where in the water column certain fish are found.

During the rainy season, rivers swell and “pump” silt and organic material into the ocean. While deep-sea areas are less impacted than coastal areas, some changes remain, including murkiness, increased nutrients, and temperature changes.

Additionally, rain means clouds are overhead, which predatory fish prefer as they can better hide and hunt.

These changes either facilitate or hamper fish species (murkiness makes hunting other fish more challenging).

Which Fish Are Likely To Be Active After Rain?

While not all fish come out soon after a heavy rain event (like a storm), those who need to continuously eat (due to high-energy demands) are usually the more popularly caught species.

Some of these fish species include the following:

  • Cobia/Lings
  • Mackerel
  • Sharks (various)
  • Tarpons
  • Tuna
  • Yellowtails

If the rain lasts several days, more fish will be out and about searching for food sooner.

four tuna fish swimming in blue ocean

Workaround: Targeting Hiding Places

While the high-energy fish are on the prowl, baitfish tend to hide by larger structures (even when deep sea).

Important hiding places include:

  • Coastal shelves
  • Oil rigs/structures
  • Shipwrecks
  • Reefs

If you don’t catch the baitfish, be sure that the predatory species will move into these areas while hunting their next meals. So if you don’t have any bites, you may have arrived too early.

The Best Fishing Techniques To Employ After Rain

To be effective in fishing, you must match the correct techniques, equipment, and bait with the target fish, the environmental conditions, and how it impacts fish behavior.

  • The best bait to use after rain is something that produces a strong scent. Hungry fish are quickly drawn to blood, chum, and other potent smells.
  • Lures are also often feasible, provided the water is not too murky (obstructing vision). Deeper water lures (like jigs) are the most effective.
  • Smaller and slower moving is better. While hungry fish may attack fast-moving and larger lures/bait before a storm/heavy rain, after the event, they are less energetic and prefer “snacks.”
  • Look for underwater structures like reefs, shipwrecks, or the shelf where baitfish hide during bad weather. Ensure that you fish on these features’ sheltered (leeward) side. The “calmer” the water you’re in, the more likely you are to succeed.
  • Most importantly, look for seabirds. They’re hungry and much better at finding fish than we are. Fishing in the areas they are improves your success rates.
  • Keep a logbook. The best way to determine the ultimate conditions for fishing is to log various data, including the weather conditions, recent storms, where you fished, what the currents were doing, what you caught, bait and equipment used, etc.

Recording as much information as possible will help you draw conclusions and make future predictions.

luxury fishing boat heading out on calm waters

The Human Safety Component

Aside from the effect of heavy rains on fish, there is a safety component to fishing after rain. During the storm, the waves and wind create dangerous conditions for smaller vessels (depending on the storm’s strength).

However, once passed, there are often lingering turbid conditions (even if below the waves is calm enough for the fish to become active), which may prevent smaller vessels from heading out until the waves settle.

Aside from the waves, the prevalent wet conditions may pose a health risk. Ideally, you want to remain dry while on a boat for hours. The correct gear is paramount to remaining comfortable and dry.

Staying home warm and safe is best if thunderstorms, hurricanes, or other severe weather conditions occur. Lightning is dangerous, no matter what you’re wearing.

The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Deep Sea Fishing After Rain

Fishing after the rain is not for everyone; however, those anglers who choose to do so must weigh up the consequences (good and bad) before heading out.

The Benefits Of Fishing After The Rain

  • Game fish are generally hungry after a rain (particularly a longer rain event), improving your chances of catching fish.
  • There are usually fewer other anglers out on the water. Most fairweather anglers avoid the risks associated with rain, especially when deep sea fishing, so for those brave enough to venture out, the (human) competition is less.
  • There are usually seabirds out and about hunting for food and following them, you are likely to find some shoals.
  • A greater sense of accomplishment. If you’re an individual that enjoys a challenge, then catching fish after rain is a wonderful feather in your cap, having the patience and perseverance to do what most others choose not to.
  • Some fish prefer muddy/murky conditions and are more active.

The Drawbacks Of Fishing After The Rain

  • The conditions at sea may be unpleasant for a significant time after a heavy rain/storm has passed, making it almost impossible to launch a small boat.
  • The rain might not be over. While weather forecasts are useful, they are not 100% clairvoyant. You may have the “all-clear” on the weather app, only to find another storm front blowing in (or the same one curling around).
  • Your fish species of preference might not be active after a heavy storm. Alternatively, they often move from the area to a calmer spot.
  • There is often a lot of wind that accompanies rain events. Unfortunately, wind is often a limiting factor when fishing.

Conclusion

While most anglers agree that deep sea fishing after the rain is not a prime experience, several predatory fish species become active. The best for fishing success is before the rain, as most fish sense the change in pressure and begin actively feeding in preparation for the period of inactivity.

Tommy Bull
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