One of the best things about fly fishing is that we get to practice our addiction outdoors and on a stream, as well as on the lake or on the ocean. For many of us, our time outdoors is limited and precious, so we are always hoping for sunny skies and warm air. In reality, we can be faced with a multitude of conditions, including: rain, snow, wind, and the cold. If we are at our favorite tropical saltwater flats location, all of these situations are a big disadvantage and can even result in not being able to fish at all and we may be forced to spend the day reading a book or taking long naps. Trout fishermen need not fear, because much of the time, the best fishing can be had when the weather is at its worst.
Fish don’t have eye lids, so they are not big fans of bright sun. On sunny days, trout also feel exposed to predators as it’s much easier for predators to see them in the water. Mayflies also tend to hatch more heavily when the weather is cloudy and rainy. So a rainy, cloudy day can be one of the best times to be on the water, especially if there is a May Fly hatch. In areas of the world such as New Zealand and Patagonia, trout are non-native and have no natural predators. For this reason, sunny days in locations where trout have no natural predators are one of the exceptions to the inverse correlation rule. In our area, there is still hope for fishing on sunny days, because caddis flies are more likely to hatch on sunny days, but you may need to focus on areas with faster and deeper water where trout will feel more secure.
Wind can be a real bummer while fly fishing, there’s no doubt about it. But, in certain situations it can be a big help. If the water levels are low and clear and the wind is calm, the stream can look like a fish aquarium. If you add a little wind, the surface of the water can become broken and choppy and make it harder to see into the water. If it’s harder to see in, it’s also harder to see out, so the fish will feel more comfortable under a broken and choppy surface. Fly fishing in windy conditions on a flat on the ocean is very difficult due to casting and also because you are usually sight fishing. Wind can also add a natural action to our flies by creating movement if we are fishing nymphs under an indicator.
Rain is a real bonus. It means it’s cloudy for one thing. For another, it breaks the surface of the water much like wind. Rain can also wash in lots of food into the stream that fish like to eat like worms and terrestrial insects.
If it’s snowing, the sun is not bright and it has to be cloudy. Remember, clouds are always good while trout fishing (unless you are trying to sight fish).
If it’s cold out, no matter. The water is probably warmer than the air (especially on the Club’s spring creeks). At some point in the day, the air temps will likely be rising, which will make our cold blooded quarry more active. A little sun in the winter time can sometimes be a blessing by helping to raise the water temps. This is one of the times I like to see the sun when on a trout stream.
The next time the weather forecast is not looking sunny and warm, please don’t let it stop you from fishing, because you may well be missing out on some of the best fishing of the year!