Finding the Best Time and Season for Fishing [Complete Guide]

Freshwater fishing is a year-round activity that can be perfectly done during any season. However, the real question is, when is the best time to go fishing, and how might that vary depending on the season? Keep reading and discover what to expect when freshwater fishing during different times of the year, and how to choose the excursion that’s best for you!

Table of Contents

  • Freshwater Fishing in the Winter
  • Freshwater Fishing in the Spring
  • Freshwater Fishing in the Summer
    • Windy Days
    • Sunny Days
    • Rainy Days
    • Post-Storm Days
  • Freshwater Fishing in the Fall
    • Early Fall
    • Late Fall
  • Nighttime Fishing vs. Daytime Fishing
  • Picking the Right Time and Season for You



Freshwater Fishing in the Winter


angler freshwater fishing in the winter
Fishing in the winter is a great way to experience serenity and solitude


Freshwater fishing in the winter is simply a different experience, one that you can’t get any other time of year! What really sets it apart is the quality versus quantity of the fish you’ll catch. This means that while you may get fewer bites, the fish will usually be larger and of higher quality.

With that being said, this is the perfect type of fishing for those looking to take it slow! If this sounds like your pace, then consider visiting one of these premier fishing destinations to catch your winter haul:

  • Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell, Michigan, United States
  • Brainerd, Minnesota, United States
  • Big Thompson River, Colorado, United States


Freshwater Fishing in the Spring


boy proudly shows off catch
Young boy proudly shows off his catch


As the weather improves and spring approaches, the fish become more active and start biting! The great thing about fishing this time of year is that it allows for flexibility in terms of duration and departure times.

With that being said, most anglers prefer fishing in the afternoon in the spring, as an increase in temperature sometimes yields better results. This time of year is also the best time to catch prized freshwater fish species such as:

  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • And MORE!

Even further, maximize your fishing experience, and test your luck behind a reel in warmer locations. Consider traveling to these destinations in the upcoming year for the best freshwater fishing experience:

  • Yellowstone River, United States
  • Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Canada
  • Jaco, Costa Rica

Expert Tip: Depending on the type of fishing experience you embark on, you may need to obtain a fishing license beforehand. Most charter companies have the fishing license covered, but if you are fishing with a company that requires you to have one in advance, or are fishing from the shore or pier, you will want to consider purchasing a fishing license before departure.


Freshwater Fishing in the Summer


Summertime is arguably the most active fishing season of the year! The sun is high, the days are long, and the fish are active throughout the day. With that being said, certain weather conditions can play a critical role in determining how successful your fishing day will be. Keep reading to discover how different weather can affect your catch.

Windy Days


man in windbreaker shows off catch
When fishing on a windy day, like the angler above, a windbreaker will surely come in handy


To be clear, when we are referring to windy days, we mean a normal, breezy day, not during a storm or any other type of natural abnormalities. Contrary to popular belief, wind is actually a friend, not a foe. Wind breaks up the water’s surface tension, which can assist in distorting the fish’s view of your lure.

Certain aggressive species of fish, like bass, for example, tend to be less aggressive and easier to catch on a windy day. Wind also sometimes positions fish, making their location and pattern more predictable. This is because most fish will move with the current, especially if there is a strong one, which is likely to happen on a windy day.

Sunny Days


freshwater fishing on a sunny day
Freshwater fishing aboard a private fishing charter


Sunny days are some of the best days to enjoy freshwater fishing! This is one reason why checking the weather before setting out to sea is important as far as planning goes. If you know there are sunny days ahead, you may want to consider choosing a fishing experience that starts early in the morning, so you can enjoy the sunshine later on. Check out these tips from experienced anglers on how to make the most of fishing under the sun:

  • During a clear, sunny day, choose lures that are light in color, as this will imitate the water’s natural flow.
  • Find a shady spot under some trees if you are fishing by the shore, as this will protect you, and your haul, from the sun. If you are fishing by boat, or are on an inshore bay fishing charter, be sure to pack sunscreen.
  • Try keeping your bait at the top of the water, as many fish species will look for food closer to the surface.

Rainy Days


freshwater fishing on a rainy day
Surprisingly enough, fishing is one of the top rainy day activities, especially along the Florida Panhandle


Many anglers consider rainy days to be some of the best days to catch keepers, and a lot of them! It isn’t known for certain if the rain has a huge impact on this, but it is a common belief among avid fishermen. It is also important to note that fishing during a storm is certainly not encouraged, but a little bit of rain is usually a good thing!

Not only that, rain is a conductor of extra oxygen on hot summer days, which causes the fish to become more active. This has the potential to attract more fish closer to the surface. It also impairs their ability to see you and your line, which works in the anglers’ advantage.

Post-Storm Days


gentleman fishing after a storm
When fishing post-storm, please be sure to dress appropriately


A standard freshwater fishing experience can greatly be altered by a storm. And even though the weather may improve after a storm, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the water conditions will improve at the same rate. Depending on several factors, such as the severity of the storm, it may take some time for the water to get back to its original conditions.

The color of the water can also help provide anglers insight on their potential haul. For example, if the water is brown, you may want to consider switching to a different fishing location, as this spot may need more time to recover from the storm.


Freshwater Fishing in the Fall


couple freshwater fishing in the fall
Couple fishing together in the fall


Freshwater fishing in the fall offers a mixed experience, with the beginning of fall giving you a similar experience to summer, while late fall is similar to the winter fishing experience mentioned above. With that being said, when you visit in the fall will have a huge impact on your fishing trip. Below we will discuss the differences between fishing in the early fall versus the late fall.

Early Fall

What is interesting about this period of fall is that it is when most fish species are establishing a pattern. This is vital for anglers, as they can find out where and when fish are migrating, what bait they prefer, and the best fishing technique to catch them. Open water fishing season ends in the fall, as well, so this is a great time to get out on the water and make the most of the season!

Late Fall

The great thing about freshwater fishing in the late fall is that, in most cities, the huge crowds are gone, the fall colors are spectacular, and the fish are still biting! Temperatures are typically warmer during the day than at night in the late fall, which is great for those who prefer daytime fishing. Most anglers prefer fishing in the late afternoon this time of year, usually starting their adventure before noon.


Nighttime Fishing vs. Daytime Fishing


Another important thing to consider when choosing the best time for freshwater fishing, is choosing between daytime fishing and nighttime fishing. Since the pros and cons of fishing during the day have been explained above, it’s important to cover nighttime fishing, as it is a unique alternative with many benefits.

Not only is it an experience to remember, but may help you to reel in a prized catch, as there will be less competition nearby. Check out the pros and cons of nighttime fishing below, and choose the trip that’s best for you!


nighttime fishing pros and cons


Picking the Right Time and Season for You


freshwater fishing at sunset
TripShock’s Official Fishing Guide is the perfect tool to help you select the right time to go fishing


Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the best time and season for fishing. When trying to decide when to go fishing, maybe first consider the tactics you would like to use, instead. Rest assured, however you decide to test your luck and freshwater fishing skills, you’re in for a halibut time!




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