When you ask any angler the best time to fish – they’re likely to tell you early in the morning or late in the evening. Butt, which one of the two is actually better?
The answer is complicated, but in my opinion the best time to fish is early in the morning. You will absolutely catch fish at either time, but if you had to choose one I would choose to fish in the morning.
Here’s 5 reasons why!
#1 Fish have adjusted to water temperature
The main reason that fishing is best in the morning and evening is because it is a time of transition. Much like the weather outside, water temperature will rise in the morning and fall in the evening. Then during the day and the middle of the night, temperatures stay more or less the same.
So as the water warms and cools, fish move and become more active. In the afternoon, they come in with the cooler water as the sun goes down to start feeding. Then in the morning, they’re doing the last of their feeding before moving back out during the warmer weather.
Because of this – when you fish in the afternoon you’re catching the first fish that start moving in to feed. This is good because they are hungry and ready to start feeding. It’s bad because they don’t always come in at once. Often time they do so in waves as temperatures drop and drop.
This can make fish hard to target in the afternoon as they may be in any part of the cycle coming in, and you can easily miss them. But in the morning, they’ve had all night to move into the areas due to cooler temps. So it is much more likely you will find larger schools of fish in areas to feed.
When you fish in the morning, you’re targeting big schools before they start moving out into mid-day. So you have the highest probability of catching a lot of fish. It’s the main reason I love to fish in the morning – they’re more predictable and there are usually more around.
#2 Morning sun creates ideal fishing spots
Now lets flip reason #1 around and say that it’s the middle of winter. In this case, the sun coming out actually sparks fish to feed as the water warms and they can leave the semi-hibernation cold water causes.
When you fish in the morning, the morning sun heats up specific parts of the water early. The sun always rises in the east – which means it shines first on the west bank of any fishery. Unsurprisingly, you find fish on the west banks of most fisheries early in the morning.
In the afternoon, you have the benefit of more warmth which can cause more active feeding. However, you have had the sun in the middle of the sky all day heating everything evenly. So now you don’t have one particular side of the water where fish are – they could be anywhere.
This is why the morning is better even in colder months. You have the morning sun making targets for you to cast to where fish are very likely to be. And they will be feeding heavily because it’s their first chance to move around actively with the warmer weather.
#3 Less pleasure boaters
A more practical reason to go fishing in the morning instead of the evening is there are less pleasure boaters taking up the water. Pleasure boaters don’t come out until the sun is up and normally will stay until the evening. Meanwhile in the morning, you more or less have the water to yourself.
This can be just enjoyable from the perspective of enjoying time on the water. Most anglers find fishing meditative or peaceful, and nothing can ruin that quite like a loud motor, big waves, and people making noise.
But it also leads to better fishing usually. Pleasure boaters can just be in the way of where you want to fish, so having less boats means you can hit all yoru favorite spots. But also pleasure boaters tend to churn up water, cause disturbances, and can just making fishing difficult. Particularly if you’re in a boat yourself.
Many fisherman think that pleasure boaters scare away fish. I have never found this to be true. If a 100 HP motor if fired up down a creek arm – you might not get bites for a few minutes. But generally if they are out on the water where they’re supposed to be, it won’t bother anything you’re fishing for. And anything smaller won’t actually spook fish from what I can tell.
But if nothing else, the peace of mind of knowing a boat hasn’t scared away fish is nice to have.
#4 Less competition
Similar to the above, having less people out means you also have less competition. Chances are in the early morning you’ll get to fish really wherever you want. Finding a good location can be everything in fishing, so getting out before everyone else is a good way to make sure you catch fish.
But in a broader sense, you are also going to be catching fish early in the morning that haven’t been fished already that whole day. When you get out in the evening, there have been many fisherman that hit the water already that day. Chances are, the fish you’re trying to catch have seen a bait or two. They might be fished out already.
In the morning, you’ve given the entire night for fish to repopulate in areas, forget about old lures, and get more of an appetite. So you have less competition for attention, and it makes it more likely that fish will bite your lure.
#5 More time to fish
The final reason I like to fish mornings more than evenings is that it gives you a longer time to fish. In the evening, you have a hard stop when it gets too dark to see. But if you’re fishing in the morning, you can fish for the rest of the day if they’re really biting!
Some days fish just bite better than others. So when you fish in the morning, you know early on if it is going to be one of those days and you can fish longer. In the evening, you only have a few hours to enjoy it. So you might as well try the morning so you have all day to enjoy it.
Generally, weather also stays more consistent in the morning too which elongates your time to fish. Usually you get a good 5 hour window in the mornings before temperatures really start fluctuating and the sun gets high. That gives you awhile to figure out a fish’s pattern before they start moving as the weather changes.
So morning fishing is really just better if you have the time to devote to fishing. And usually I do
Now you know exactly why morning fishing is better than evening fishing. But what do you think? Some people swear by fishing in the evening over the morning. Or do you like fishing during midday better? Maybe you’re a night fisherman? Leave your thoughts below and we’ll see when everyone prefers their fishing.