When Is The Best Time To Go Fishing

When is the best time to go fishing?

There is never a bad time to go fishing! However, knowing the best times to go fishing will give you a better chance of a catching.

The best time for fishing in the warmer months is early morning and late evening, whereas, in the colder months, the middle of the day is best.

The time of day is not the only thing to consider when working out the best time to go fishing. You need to consider the weather, temperature (or the water temperature), what tackle you will use and what fish you are targeting.

There are many factors to this, and it does not mean that you should avoid fishing in the other hours of the day. In this guide, you will learn the best methods and tactics to catch fish no matter what the time of day.

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Is it better to fish at night or day?

Early morning and early evening are the best times to catch fish in warmer temperatures, however in the colder months the opposite is true and the middle hours of the day are the best time to fish. 

Let’s take a deeper look at the best times to go fishing, the reasons why. In this guide we will also look at the best bait and tactics to use.

Why do fishermen go fishing so early?

In the warmer months, early morning fishing can be fantastic. If I am going for a full-day session, I try to arrive at the venue just as it is getting light. Not only does this give me more fishing hours, but early morning fishing can be very successful and there are several factors why.

Being the first person at the lake allows you to pick the best swim. Look around and you’ll probably notice fish on the surface (usually Carp and smaller coarse fish) and fizzing bubbles which are usually from Tench disturbing the bottom looking for food. These are clear indicators of where the fish are. Where carp usually are, other coarse fish are not far away.

Fish feed at night (more on that later) but as morning breaks the additional light allows them to see better. Natural fish food such as flies are also starting to be more active, so the fish are looking for their breakfast. You’ve heard the saying, “the early bird catches the worm”, so does the fish.

Sunlight also begins heating the water temperature, which increases fish activity. Fish are more active in the morning and late evening. 

Fish are easily spooked, so as the sun is still rising, the softer light makes it harder for the fish to see you, and your tackle in the water. This results in greater feeding confidence from the fish.

Crucially with early morning fishing, you don’t see that many people. When you do, it’s other dedicated and knowledgeable anglers and they are there for the same reasons that you are. This is important because the more people that are there, the more chance the fish are likely to be spooked.

Tactics play a big role in whether you will be successful. You cannot just turn up early in the morning and expect a full keepnet before lunch. Think about things from a fish’s point of view.

If there are lots of carp on the surface then you should consider fishing shallow, or even on the surface. If there are lots of fizzing bubbles, then that is a good sign there are fish feeding on the bottom. 

Think about the bait you are using. Natural baits such as worms and maggots can be very successful in the morning.

Don’t neglect the margins. Margins are a great source of natural food and you can often catch some big fish very close to the bank, especially if they have some cover like an overhanging tree or reeds.

It is also worth noting that in larger or deeper venues, the difference in water temperatures does not change as quickly as shallower depths, so it can take a little longer for things to heat up.

For deeper venues, if fish are not showing, target the bottom and work your way shallower throughout the day. Similar tactics can still be used in the colder months, however, the colder the water, the less active the fish will be. 

Early mornings in winter can be challenging. This is because this is often when the water is as it’s coldest, meaning the fish are saving their energy and are not very active. 

If you are planning on staying throughout the day, think about pre-baiting another swim/area that you may want to focus on later if the bites dry up. Give yourself some options – sometimes you need to rest your swim. Having another swim or area pre-baited will help you.

Can you catch fish in the middle of the day?

Yes, you can catch fish at any time of day, providing that you go about it the right way. The afternoon can sometimes be the best time of day to catch fish.

Particularly during the warmer months, you may notice a drop off in bites in the middle of the day. The middle of the day until late afternoon is the hottest part of the day, resulting in water temperatures rising and lower oxygen levels. 

Fish can react in several ways. This is where the challenge lies. Think about how you react in the summer, in the hottest part of the day. You try to stay cool. You stay in the shade, or you may even sunbathe. The heat and lower oxygen levels make you fatigued and sometimes sluggish. In this aspect, fish do not differ from humans. 

So what is the best way to catch the fish? The first challenge is to locate them! 

A good pair of Polaroid sunglasses to take the glare off the water and help you see the water clearly, hopefully locating the fish. Polaroids are not essential, but very useful if you have them.

The first step is to scan the water. Get up high if you can and give you a better view of the lake or pond. Perhaps even climb a tree if it is safe to do so.

In very hot weather you will notice a lot of fish splashing about and creating big ripples. They are coming to the surface to get oxygen, and to eat flies and insects on the surface. 

Are they staying on the surface and basking in the sun, or are they coming to the surface and going into deep water? Deeper water is cooler, so a good place for fish to relax until the water temperature cools down. 

Look out for good places for fish to get shade. Are there any overhanging trees or islands for them to hide in? These not only give them much-needed shade, but also bring security and natural food.

If you see the fish on the surface and staying there, think about surface fishing with some bread or floating baits. Consider fishing very shallow with a pellet waggler.

As the fish are coming to the surface anyway, you can intercept them. Regular feeding can create a lot of competition and can be a very effective way of catching a big weight.

If the fish are not so active on the surface or are just coming to the surface for oxygen, then try fishing much deeper. Depending on how deep the water is, you can either float fish or try ledgering. 

You may need to vary your tactics as a slight change in temperature can change fish behavior so always be looking around to see what is happening around you. If something stops working, there is probably a good reason for it. 

It may just be that you need to give it a rest for 20-30 mins and try again once the fish get their confidence back.

Alternatively, maybe the fish have moved away or have moved deeper (or shallower). Have they been spooked? Chances are they will come back if they continue to loose-feed, but you may need to rest the swim for a short while and try an alternate tactic. 

Why not check out our comprehensive floater rod buyers guide to help you find the best rod for your next floater fishing adventure.

When is the best time to go fishing in winter?

In colder months, the middle hours of the day can be the ideal time to go fishing. Again, as with the warmer months, the middle of the day is when the water temperature is at its highest. Although in the colder months, the temperatures are not as high.

The winter months can sometimes be difficult for fish to find natural food. There are fewer flies and insects out in the colder months, so less natural fish food. This can work to your advantage, so think about using bait that the fish are out looking for. Try natural baits like worms and maggots.

More often than not, you will need to fish deeper in winter. Try ledgering or if it is not so deep and you are not fishing so far out, then try float fishing.

Fishing can be tough in winter and you can draw blanks. Stay patient and focused though, if bites are few and far between, you need to make the most out of them.

Similarly to early morning fishing, don’t forget the margins. Now, although we just established fish are generally in deeper water in winter – they are also looking for food.

Margins can be a great source of natural food for fish, so don’t forget to give the margins a try.

Give your self options and bait two swims, one in the margins and one further out.

How to catch fish on an evening

As the summer sun goes down, the water temperature cools, you can often find what was a very average day, or even a very poor day fishing can suddenly change as if somebody has just flicked a switch.

Similar to early morning fishing, late evening or dusk fishing can be fantastic. As the water temperature is cooling, fish become more active and are on the lookout for food.

As the light fades, that softer light makes it harder for fish to see you. They become more confident and hungry on an evening, which makes it ideal for you to bag up if you get your tactics right.

Fishing on a late evening can be quick-paced and frantic because you will possibly get a lot of bites. It’s also possible that you will get a lot of false indications or line bites. You should keep your set up simple, allowing for fewer complications and more catching.

Fishing down the margins can be very successful at dusk and is possibly the best method to use when fishing late in the day. Water temperature in the margins will cool down quicker than deeper waters, especially where there is shade. 

You will often find big carp will patrol the margins on an evening. Possibly because they know anglers throw in their leftover bait on an evening before they leave.

Think about your bait. Lots of anglers will throw in leftover groundbait, hemp, pellets, and cubes of meat. Try to replicate this where possible.

Try not to overfeed the fish. You want to create competition and to keep them in your swim. Little and often is always a good way to feed. It is always wise to vary your feeding to keep the fish guessing, but don’t go crazy and throw in handful after handful.

In the colder months, however, it can become too cold for fish to bite so you may want to stick to the middle of the day. That’s not to say that you cannot catch on cold winter evenings, it’s just a lot harder.

All the above advice applies, however, chances are it is much more difficult to catch in winter evenings compared to summer nights.

So when is the best time to go fishing? Both summer morning and evenings are the best time to go fishing.

Best time to go fishing

Can you catch fish at night?

When thinking of when is the best time to go fishing, night fishing is not always the first thing that comes to mind. But can you catch fish at night?

Night fishing can be very successful, you might have noticed that most anglers who night fish specifically target specimen carp. These anglers will fish for 24 or 48 hours straight, purely focusing on big fish.

One major obstacle for night fishing is the lack of light. If you are float fishing, it is likely that you will struggle to see your float. 

As you are fishing in the dark, you will inevitably need a torch or a source of light so that you can see. The light is likely to scare the fish away. Similarly it is very quiet at night, so any sound or movement you make may spook the fish.

The vast majority who night fish will fish on the bottom. Smelly baits are useful for fishing in the dark as fish use their senses to locate their food in the dark. Anglers use bite indicators such as bite alarms to tell them when they have a bite. 

As a new Angler, avoid night fishing until you have become more experienced. Fishing can sometimes be difficult in broad daylight. No light at all makes it very difficult.

Night fishing can also be very expensive as you will need a tent or a bivvy, sleeping bag(s), lights, more heavy-duty tackle, and need a more technical set-up.

Certainly for a beginner, over-night is not the best time to go fishing, but without doubt morning and late evening is the optimum time.

When is the best time to go fishing?

Taking all the above into account, the best time for fishing in the warmer months is early morning and late evening, whereas, in the colder months, the middle of the day is best.

You might have noticed a theme throughout this article. A lot of the tactics to use are very similar. You need to be flexible to adjust your fishing to the conditions. Don’t let dry spells put you off, analyze the situation and try to think of things from a fish’s point of view.

There is no bad time to go fishing, ANYTIME is the best time to go fishing. You don’t have to catch to enjoy yourself. Just being outdoors, relaxing, and at one with nature is more enjoyable than the daily grind.

Fishing can be very simple if you let it. A great way to get started is our Coarse Fishing Basics guide. If you plan on frequently floater fishing for carp on a late evening, you may want to consider a dedicated floater rod and you can check out of buyers guide here.