Do Fish Bite on Cloudy Days? 15 Proven Tips to Catch Fish

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Video fishing in cloudy weather

One thing that I have learned over the years fishing for a variety of species is that the weather can play a huge role and impact how good the fishing is going to be on a given day.

Fishing in overcast and cloudy conditions is a situation many anglers face, and it can bring some unique opportunities and certain challenges. Many anglers often wonder if fishing is good on cloudy days and in overcast conditions?

In my experience, the fishing can be extremely good on cloudy days and in overcast conditions when anglers utilize the right strategies and fishing techniques. During cloudy conditions there is less light penetrating the water and fish will become comfortable, more active and are easier to catch. If you have a chance to go fishing when it’s cloudy, I’d highly recommend taking advantage of this as it can be one of the best times to go fishing.

In this article, we will discuss in-depth why fishing in overcast conditions can give anglers a huge advantage and tips and tricks you can utilize to help maximize your time on the water and catch more fish.

Let’s get started.

Fishing On Cloudy Days

One of the things I always look out for when planning out my next fishing trip is what the weather is going to be like. Oftentimes the weather, temperature, and condition will dictate how good the fishing is going to be and what baits and lures are going to work best.

When I see overcast or cloudy conditions on the forecast, I get excited, because I know these can be great opportunities to catch fish. Why are overcast and cloudy conditions better for fishing?

Here is why fishing on cloudy days is better than most days:

Fishing Advantages in Overcast Conditions

  • Less light penetrating the water resulting in less visibility
  • Easier to trick or fool fish into biting
  • Fish are more active and searching for food
  • Most fish species will roam around and leave cover and deep water
  • Larger strike zone
  • Fish are more aggressive and willing to bite
  • More active insects & hatches
  • Reaction style baits work very well

The combination of these things is why many anglers say that overcast and cloudy conditions are prime time fishing conditions.

15 Simple Tips to Help You Catch More Fish on Cloudy Days

Trout Fishing River Do Fish Bite on Cloudy Days? 15 Proven Tips to Catch Fish
Angler fly fishing on a small river

As I mentioned above cloud cover and overcast conditions can be key ingredients to a successful day of fishing. However, if you don’t approach it the right way you may miss out on some great fishing opportunities.

Here are 15 simple tips that will help you take advantage of cloudy conditions and allow you to catch more fish.

1. Mix Up Your Retrieval Speed & Cadence

One of the easiest ways to catch more fish on cloudy days is by getting your targeting species to react and respond to your presentation. Fish are opportunistic predators and can’t help but take advantage of an easy meal.

If you can present your lures in a way that looks like a wounded fish or easy meal, they can’t help but bite. The best way to do this is by mixing up how fast you reel in your lure and by adding some jerks and pauses. These small changes to your lure will get more fish to respond and you’ll be surprised by how many more fish you will end up catching.

2. Target Different Depths

Fishing the right depth is key if you want to be able to catch fish. If you are not fishing where the fish are, you’ll have a hard time having success.

Each species of fish will prefer to be at a different depth and a lot of it will depend on the water temperature and time of the year. Weather is also a big factor in fish behavior and can influence where they will be located.

On cloudy days and in overcast conditions fish tend to roam around more and will leave deep water and cover to take advantage of good hunting conditions.

With the fish roaming around more they can be more of a challenge to find. That’s why targeting different depths until you figure out where they may be positioned is key.

When it’s cloudy outside I like to start fishing shallow, that is generally where I have the most success. However, if that isn’t working, I will head out deeper and mix up the depth I’m fishing until I can figure out a pattern.

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3. Use Bright & Dark Colors

Using the right color of baits and lures is key when fishing when it’s overcast. On cloudy days’ the sunlight is unable to penetrate the water due to the cloud cover. As a result, there is less visibility in the water making it harder for them to distinguish what’s real and not real.

They also have a harder time seeing your lures and bait. This combination can give anglers a huge advantage if they fish with the right color of lures.

I’ve found the best colors to use in overcast conditions to be bright colors like chartreuse and white as well as dark colors like dark greens, black and browns. These colors will help you baits, and lures stand out and catch the attention of any nearby fish.

4. Add Scent

A simple but effective trick you can use to catch more fish on cloudy days is by adding some scent to your lures and baits. Adding scents and fish attractants like garlic will not only help you get more bites, but the fish will hold onto your lure longer. This extra time will give you the chance to get a good hook set and get those fish into the net.

5. Make Long Casts

When you are targeting fish on cloudy days casting distance can be a really important factor, especially when fishing for bigger fish. Longer casts allow you to stay farther away from your target, give your baits a chance to run deeper, and it will decrease your chances of spooking fish off.

Here are a few tips that will increase your casting distance:

Casting Distance Tips

  • Use a longer rod – longer rods will make it easier to get distance out of your bait
  • Use lighter line – a smaller line diameter will help you get more distance
  • Let your equipment do the work – nice smooth casts will allow your gear to do the work and result in longer casts

6. Match the Hatch

Matching the hatch is a theory used by anglers that means using baits and lures that closely match or mimic the fish forage including the size and color.

Whether your targeted species is feeding on insects, small bait fish, crayfish. Etc. finding out what they are looking to eat will give a huge advantage as an angler.

If you do so, the fish will be a lot more willing to bite and you’ll get much better hook up ratios. This tip can be applied to any type of fishing and all species.

A great starting point would be to research the type of fish and forage in your bodies of water. From there you can select baits and lures that closely match these and then dial in the best ones from there.

7. Target High Percentage Areas

If you are struggling to find and catch fish on cloudy days and in overcast conditions, try targeting high percentage areas. By that I mean you should look for areas of the lake, pond, or river you are fishing and identify where your targeted species is most likely to be located.

In general fish can be found where there is food, cover and a variety of water depths. If you can find these types of areas, you’ll catch a lot more fish.

Here are some of my fishing areas where I’ve found the most success:

High Percentage Fishing Spots

  • Points
  • Secondary Points
  • Docks
  • Inlets/Creek Channels
  • Hard Cover
  • Humps
  • Windy Banks
  • Grass Lines & Flats
  • Rock Piles
  • Trees
  • Wood
  • Bridges
  • Riprap
  • Other Types of Structure and Cover

8. Change Up Your Baits & Lures

Fishing Crappie Do Fish Bite on Cloudy Days? 15 Proven Tips to Catch Fish

Any easy mistake to make and one that I have made plenty of times is using the same bait or lure for too long. At times fish can be picky and a different lure, color, size or technique might just be the thing to help you catch your fish.

As fishing conditions change and the day becomes cloudy what worked when it was sunny may not work in overcast conditions. That’s why it’s so important to switch it up and try something new.

If you have been fishing with the same bait or lure for over 30 minutes and still haven’t gotten bit, it’s time to switch it up and try something new. A small change to a different lure, size or color can make a huge difference and help you catch more fish in overcast conditions.

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9. Use Live Bait

If using live bait isn’t your thing, I totally get it. As a bass fisherman I mostly like to fish with artificial lures and baits. However, there is no denying that live bait will help you catch more fish.

As realistic and good as the baits and lures are these days there is nothing like the real thing. To learn what the best live baits are check out this article: Best Live Bait for Freshwater Fishing

10. Go Topwater

Topwater lures and dry flies are known for being a great way to catch fish early in the morning and late in the evening. However, they can also be a super effective way to catch fish when it’s overcast or cloudy.

When the clouds roll in this generates low light fishing conditions much like at dawn and dusk. These conditions are considered to be one of the best times to throw topwater lures and dry flies.

Not only can they work super well but it’s some of the most exciting and fun ways you can catch fish. There is nothing like seeing big fish come and take your lure on the surface.

11. Use Gold or Silver Lures

If you are planning on using some type of lure whether it be a spinnerbait, spoon or spinner the best color of blade to use is gold in cloudy conditions.

The gold will help you stand out more in cloudy water and make it much more visible to the fish when compared to silver. This will help you get a few more bites.

On the other hand, silver is a great color to use on bright and sunny days as the silver reflects off the light in the water creating light flashes.

Adapting your blades and colors based on the fishing conditions can give you a big advantage over other anglers and help you have a lot more success.

12. Wind Is Key

On most cloudy days there will be some type of wind. This can be both a blessing and a curse. The wind can turn the bite on, and fish will become much more willing to bite in these conditions.

The reason for this is the wind will stir things up making the water less clear and creating opportunities for predators. The only downside to this is it can become difficult to cast and navigate a boat.

When it’s windy and cloudy outside, look to target banks where the wind is blowing into the bank. Oftentimes small bait fish and other fish forage will get pinned up against the bank and big fish will be nearby taking advantage. Target windy banks and cloudy days and you’ll end up catching a lot of fish.

13. Downsize If You’re Not Catching Fish

Another simple tip you can do that will help you catch fish more consistently on cloudy days is to downsize your baits and lures. Using smaller baits, flies, and lures will allow you to attract a wider range of fish.

This is especially important when the fish are keying in on small bait fish or forage like in the early spring and fall. You’ll essentially match that hatch and look more natural to the fish, while still giving yourself the opportunity to catch both small and big fish.

What about big fish? It’s true. In general, bigger baits and lures catch bigger fish. However, that is not always the case. I’ve caught plenty of big fish when their forage is small.

So, if you are not having any luck or just want to catch more fish, don’t be afraid to downsize and go with a smaller, more finesse presentation.

14. Success Is in The Details

I have been fishing for a long time and have enjoyed targeting a variety of fish with a wide range of techniques and angling methods. What I’ve learned over the years is that the small details matter and can make a huge difference regardless of what you are fishing for.

There are so many missed opportunities that anglers could have taken advantage of if they were only paying attention to certain things that would have helped them become more successful.

Things like making sure you lure is swimming right, or that your bait is properly rigged can make all the difference in the world. One of the best times to go fishing is in cloudy conditions, don’t waste your time by throwing a bait that isn’t rigged right or a lure that’s broken or simply doesn’t work.

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Pay close attention to the small details from color, lure size, how you work the bait. All of these things can make a huge difference out on the water.

15. Be Adaptable

Being able to adapt on the fly is something that all anglers must learn. Fishing conditions can change from day to day and from hour to hour. During the day it might start cloudy and end up being sunny and vice versa.

When it’s overcast, fish are constantly on the move and their behavior changes based on season, weather conditions, water temperature and light penetration among other things.

For this reason, it’s extremely important that you learn to adapt and change your approach, baits, flies, and techniques in order to match the fish’s behavior.

Sunny vs. Overcast Conditions

A common question many anglers have is if it’s better to fish on cloudy or sunny days. In my experience you can catch fish in pretty much any weather condition with a little persistence.

In general fishing is typically better when it’s overcast when compared to sunny conditions. The reason for this is because the cloud covers the sun which reduces the amount of light that penetrates the water.

Lower light penetration makes things easier on fish and they are typically more willing to roam around hunting for food. This can make for some great fishing opportunities.

On the other hand, when it’s bright and sunny out fish will head for deep water and thick cover where they can beat the heat and hide from other predators.

Fishing Cloudy Days Q&A

Fresh caught fish Do Fish Bite on Cloudy Days? 15 Proven Tips to Catch Fish

Is overcast a good time to fish? The fishing can be excellent in overcast conditions regardless of where you are fishing and what your target species is. This is especially true if you are fishing in the summer.

Do fish bite on cloudy days? Fish will absolutely bite on cloudy days. In fact, overcast conditions can be one of the best times to go fishing. Most fish will be more active and aggressive making them easier to catch.

What are the best lures for cloudy days? The best lures to use when you are faced with overcast conditions are reaction style lures like crankbaits, swimbaits, spoons, and spinners. These lures will allow you to cover water, find fish and get that reaction strike that can be really good when it’s cloudy.

What color lures to use on cloudy days? The best color of baits and lures to use when it’s cloudy are going to be bright bold colors like white and chartreuse and dark colors like black, dark green and brown. These two color choices will help you bait contrast the low light conditions and stand out. Making them easier for the fish to see and track down.

When should you throw white lures? White is one of my favorite colors of lure to use. What do most fish species have in common? They all have some type of white belly in most cases. For this reason, I believe white colored lures are always a good choice regardless of your body of water or your targeted species.

Do fish like pink lures? Pink is a popular bait and lure color that many anglers use to fish for a variety of species. Pink can be an effective color to target trout, bass, walleye, and other species.

Additional Fishing Resources

  • Trout Fishing Cloudy & Overcast Conditions (Tips & Tricks)
  • Fishing Line Color Guide [Best Options]
  • 20 Kayak Fishing Tips to Make You a Better Angler
  • 10 Best Crankbait Colors That Catch More Fish
  • Bass Fishing in Muddy Water? Throw These Lures & Colors
  • How to Choose the Right Bass Fishing Colors

Final Thoughts

One of the best times to fish regardless of your target species is on cloudy days and in overcasting conditions. The fish are more active and are out roaming around looking for a meal. This makes fish much easier to catch and can be an excellent time to head out to the water and do some fishing.

I’d highly recommend saving this article and referencing it again the next time that you are faced with cloudy fishing conditions. You’ll have a lot more success and know exactly how to fish when you are faced with these situations.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>