When is the best time to fish? When you have a day off, right? For most of us that is reality, but you may also want to take into consideration some factors that will help you catch more fish. Let’s say for example you have 3 days off and you plan to fish one of those days? Which day should you go to have the best chance at landing some nice fish?
I like to look at the factors in order, starting with weather and the swell (if applicable), because if you have 30 knot winds and an 8 foot swell all the other factors really don’t matter.
Factor #1 – Weather
The first thing you want to do is check the weather to see if it is safe and also see if the weather is conducive to a nice day of fishing. I like to say that it is the two “W’s” that have a big impact on you going fishing. The first is wife, but we will leave that one alone for a marriage counselor to blog about. The second is wind. When it comes to weather it will usually be the wind that stops a nice day on the water. A great website for checking the wind is an app called “Windy”. This app tends to be pretty accurate (as accurate as any forecast in the Pacific Northwest). But what I really like about the app is that it provides a quick visual where you can tell at a glance what days have the most wind, or what days have the most intense wind (see graphic below).
Next I look at the visibility, precipitation, and temperature. I don’t mind fishing in the rain or when it is cold and since my boat is equipped with radar, AIS, and GPS, visibility (fog) likely doesn’t stop me either.
Factor #2 – Swell
The second factor I look at is the swell. If you are fishing in an area such as the straits of Juan De Fuca you have to pay attention to the swell in conjunction with the wind waves. For the swell and wind waves I use NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center (you can also use Tides4Fishing.com, see below). Then when I know the conditions I use the well-known Go-No Go formula to quickly determine if I should be out in the given conditions.
Formula – height of swell + wind waves should be less than swell duration
Let’s do a couple examples…..
Example #1 – From NOAA’s Buoy Center
N wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less building to
2 to 4 ft in the afternoon. NW swell 4 ft at 7 seconds.
Applying the formula we have: 4 (swell) + 2 (wind waves) = 6. And we have swells 7 seconds apart. As you can see the height of the swell + wind is less than the duration of the swell, 7 – this is a GO!
Applying the formula we have: 6 (swell) + 4 (wind waves) = 10. And we have swells 7 seconds apart. As you can see the height of the swell + wind is greater than the duration of the swell, 7 – this is a NO-GO!
Example #2 – From NOAA’s Buoy Center
N wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 4 ft or less building to
5 to 6 ft in the afternoon. NW swell 6 ft at 7 seconds.
Applying the formula we have: 6 (swell) + 4 (wind waves) = 10. And we have swells 7 seconds apart.
As you can see the height of the swell + wind is greater than the duration of the swell, 7 – this is a NO-GO!
Factor #3 – Barometric Pressure
The general rule of thumb for barometric pressure is that fishing is best when the pressure is rising.
- Rising – Best
- Rapid Rise – Good
- Unchanging – Poor
- Falling – Good at first, then poor
Factor #4 & #5 – Solunar and Tides
I recently wrote about Solunar theory and How the Moon Effects Fishing. Here is a quick summary of that article:
- New Moon = best fishing 3 days before, 2 days after
- Full Moon = best fishing 3-4 days before Note: The night of the full moon can be good, but just what was said above
- Tides = generally a few hours before high tide and a few hours after makes for the best fishing
The above summary and article will help you zone in on the right day to be fishing, but you also want to be sure you are fishing during the right times of those days you choose. To do this make sure you pay attention to the major and minor times. These are times throughout the day when moon’s pull is the greatest, which translates into peak fishing times.
To determine the best days and times to be fishing I use the site Tides4Fishing.com. It does a great job laying out the moon phases and also the major and minor times.
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Hook em’ deep!