Cloudy or overcast days can be a bass fisherman’s greatest avenue to premier bass action. Many bass anglers consider these reduced-light days to be the prime-time windows for catching more and bigger largemouth bass in almost every season and situation. So let’s take a closer look at bass fishing on dreary days.
Is bass fishing good on cloudy or overcast days? Generally speaking, bass fishing is excellent on cloudy and overcast days when the reduced sunlight allows bass to freely roam in search of prey they can ambush and the reduced visibility allows bass to sneak up on moving prey without being detected. On these days, it is wise to fish with moving baits that take advantage of the bass’s natural hunting instinct under cloudy conditions.
In this article, we will cover all facets of bass fishing and how it is affected by the reduced sunlight and cooling temperatures associated with overcast conditions and cloudy weather.
Bass Fishing on Cloudy or Overcast Days
Is Bass Fishing Good on Cloudy Days
Bass fishing on cloudy or overcast days is generally very good. In fact, many bass anglers believe these conditions offer the best bass fishing. Bass fishing on cloudy and overcast days is very good and often is unbeatable. On hot sunny days, bass are usually held very tight to shady cover or down in deeper water further from shore. On cloudy days, bass are in ambush mode. They are able to roam freely and seek out prey.
The reduced light makes it harder to be spotted by prey and it also reduces their reliance on shade. Bass are able to seek out and corner prey items and launch aggressive attacks. The reduced sunlight and accompanying colder temperatures mean bass can be hunting in shallow water close to shore making them easier to locate and catch for both shore and boat fishermen.
Best Time of Day: Cloudy Days
On days with clear skies and solid sunshine, the early morning and late afternoon are the best time of day for bass fishing. However, on cloudy or overcast days, the middle of the day can be quite good for bass fishing. In fact, I would argue that a cloudy early afternoon can be more productive and have better bass fishing than a clear-skied early morning or late afternoon. Bass really like feeding under reduced sunlight and overcast or cloudy conditions greatly reduce the piercing sunlight from above and also reduce visibility in the water.
Bass will be able to more freely roam and ambush prey with little concern of being seen by prey items and the reduced brightness means bass won’t be required to lay i the shadows found tight to cover like docks and weeds. The best time of day to fish when it’s cloudy is whatever time of day clouds are densest. This could be early morning, late afternoon, or the middle of the day.
Is Bass Fishing Good: Overcast Days
On overcast days, bass fishing is typically very good. Many bass anglers swear by fishing on these dimmed-light days. Bass are not constricted to the shaded cover spots to escape the bright sunshine. Instead, they are able to roam free and hunt. On overcast days, bass will be inactive feeding mode. Prey items like frogs and shiners will have a harder time seeing approaching bass. This affords bass the ability to swim freely and move into a position where they can launch attacks.
On overcast days, fish with moving baits like crankbaits, buzzbaits, poppers, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits. While bass will hit slow-moving baits like worms, they will certainly respond better to moving prey since they will be out actively looking for food.
5 Best Lures for Overcast/Cloudy Conditions
- Spinnerbait: spinnerbaits are awesome in cloudy weather for bass. These baits can be fished quick or slower and a lot of water. The blades will displace water as it passes by bass and look like a fleeing baitfish which bass will want to ambush. Select dark spinnerbaits with muted dark blades for cloudy weather. Feel free to color the blades black if you can’t find any muted ones.
- Chatterbait: chatterbaits works great during cloudy days especially when the water is muddier. Chatterbaits produce a ton of noise which can help bass key in. For added effect, add a boot-tailed swimbait to the chatterbait. This will make the profile more attractive.
- Square-bill crankbait: this bait works awesome on rocks. This is where bass are waiting for baitfish to pass by. Fish these baits in spring and ball. The trick is to grind these baits in the rocks on the bottom.
- Swimbait: swimbaits are a very versatile bait for bass all year-long. II have found they work particularly well on cloudy days. Select swimbaits with a darker color profile so bass can spot them easier in gray water.
- Frog Lures: frogs are one of the bass lures, period. But thy seem to work really well during the summer on overcast days when it is easier on the bass’s eyes to stare up at the surface looking for frogs.
Bass Fishing & Rain
Bass fishing can really spike up when the rain comes in. Some of the best fishing you can have is in the hours before rain. During this time, the air pressure drops and the sunshine is reduced. This stirs up aquatic activity and baitfish, plankton, and insects really become active. Even during the brightest periods of the day, bass will be willing to leave the shade of structure and venture out in search of prey. Bass become very aggressive in how they behave. During this time, bass will aggressively chase down moving lures. Moving crankbaits, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and swimbaits are a great presentation before rain.
As the rain begins, bass fishing will remain very good. The reduced sunlight really cools down the air and water and causes prey items and bass alike to move about. The rain cools the water and stirs up nutrients and dissolved oxygen which really amps up bass. Any type of moving bait will be good but I have found that topwater lures and lures with a lot of noise work really well when it’s raining. Topwater buzzbaits and poppers are awesome and big spinnerbaits and square-bills work well too.
Great places to fish during rain is the inlet of small creeks into the main body of the lake. Here nutrients and food are washed downstream into the lake where baitfish and bluegills feed. This attracts big bass. Even more importantly, cooler rainwater washes down the stream and creates a mico-environment of cooler water near the mouth. Bass love this.
After the rain, bass activity seems to slow way down. Bass will sit much tighter to cover and feed very sluggishly. You can still catch bass after rain but you will need to slow your approach way down. Fish very slow with salamanders, worms, and jigs. The bites may also be more delicate so be quick with the hookset. You can catch bass before, during, and after rain but the best time for great action is before the rain comes and the clouds really settle.
Cloudy Days: Summer vs. Winter
All year long, bass fishing is better when it is cloudy than when it is sunny. This is especially true during the summer but bass will respond favorably to cloud cover in the winter as well. The major exception I have found is ice fishing for bass tends to actually be better when it is sunny out.
Does Cloud Cover Affect Spawning Behavior?
For the most part, spawning behavior isn’t too affected by cloud cover. Bass will still aggressively defend their nest and their eggs from nest robbers like salamanders, carp, turtles, and bluegills regardless of available sunshine. That said, bass will likely rest in the nearby shave or wood or weeds keeping an eye on their nest when it is sunny out for intruders to beat up whereas when it is cloudy, they can more comfortable sit on their bed.
Ice Fishing for Bass
I have found a distinct correlation between cloud over and ice fishing success for largemouth bass. Bass will absolutely bite during the winter up north and I have caught more than 20 bass through the ice, oftentimes while pursuing some other species. What I have learned is that bass respond more to relative temperature changes and not cloud-cover directly in winter. During weeks of cold spells, bass will be rather lethargic but any rise in water temperature can cause a spike in feeding activity. This can be as subtle as a few degrees of warming.
On days with cloud cover, water temperatures will be slightly slower than if the sun were suddenly to appear. The sun can actually cause bass fishing to become better through the ice. For most of the year, I recommend fishing for bass on overcast days but during the winter, the sun warms up the water and can improve bass fishing.
Fast vs. Slow Fishing Approaches
Slow approaches to bass fishing such as slow vertical jigging for soft plastic worms, crayfish, or salamanders can always catch bass. But for overcast conditions, I think you’ be better off fishing faster. Bass will be out roaming searching for food. They won’t be holding as tight to cover feeding off the bottom where you’ll be jigging plastics. They will be searching for moving prey they can maneuver on and ambush. By casting moving baits like swimbaits or spinners, you are giving bass exactly what they are after. Another benefit to fishing moving bait for these bass is it allows you fish more water faster. You can move up a section of bank and catch 15 bass in 30 minutes instead of slow jigging a piece of weedline and maybe catch 2 bass in that same timeframe. On cloudy days, go with faster fishing with moving baits to catch more aggressive bass and in higher quantities.
Is Topwater Good When the Sun is Hiding?
Topwater fishing can be great when the conditions are cloudy. Bass don’t like staring at the surface with a bright sunny backdrop to look into. It makes it harder for bass to see food and likely hurts their eyes. But on cloudy or overcast days, the backdrop will be a lot more muted and darker topwater baits will really stand out to bass.
I recommend throwing dark colors like dark blue, black, dark red, and purples. Buzzbaits, shallow crankbaits, shallow spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and chatterbaits will work really good on the surface. Frogs are awesome too. Stay away from brighter colors or baits with undefined edges. These will be harder to see against that pale backdrop of the sky. Dark bait will really silhouette themselves for hungry bass.
Night Fishing for Bass on Cloudy Days
While bass fishing during the day really peaks during overcast conditions, cloud cover at night can almost grind bass fishing to a halt. Bass fishing at night under cloud cover is typically pretty bad for getting night bites. Bass have very good reduced light vision but poor night vision. Bass don’t feed a ton at night because they can’t see. The exception to this rule is on full moon nights when the bright moonlight is able to illuminate to a degree the upper few feet of water.
This affords bass the ability to see prey near the surface. Well, cloud cover can completely eliminate moonlight making it extremely hard for bass to find food. You can catch bass on very dark nights but you need to use baits that displace water or produce a ton of noise and you need to precisely place the lure in front of the bass for them to find it.
7 Tips for Catching Bass on Cloudy & Overcast Days
1. Fish Moving Baits
You will catch a lot more bass on cloudy and overcast days by fishing moving baits. Bass will be roaming and looking for mobile prey they can ambush. You may catch some bass fishing slow but you will catch a lot more bass and cover more water fishing moving baits like spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, swimbaits, and crankbaits than you will slow jigging plastic worms.
2. Fish Darker Baits
On days with a gray sky backdrop, fish with darker baits. Against a gray background, solid dark colors like black, purple, dark red, and dark blue will really stand out whereas brighter or lighter colored baits will not. Also, select baits with defined edges as baits with see-through edges will be less visible to bass in these conditions.
3. Clear Water? Go a Little Brighter
If the water is clearer or there is some sun peaking through the clouds, fish with bright colors or add some flash. A great option for this is a dark spinnerbait with a bright silver or gold blade. The dark color of the bait will make it visible in water but the flash from the blade can catch the sunlight. You can also fish with chartreuse and light oranges too.
4. Try Bladed or Regular Swim Jig
These baits can be awesome if the water is a bit muddier as it will draw bass in as a fleeing baitfish imitation. You can try adding a boot-tailed swimbait to the trailer of the jig for added essence.
5. Popper in Clear Water
If the water is clear, try a topwater popper bait. This will produce great noise to draw in bass that will have a harder time seeing other baits. Fish these baits slowly. Let the bait rest at the surface til ripples disappear then quickly pop your rod tip down. This will make the popper dig into the water creating great noise.
6. Power Fishing on Cloudy Days
Power fishing is the name of the game for good bass fishing on cloudy days. Fish quick-moving baits like spinnerbaits, frogs, buzzbaits, and crankbaits to find hungry bass roaming around.
7. Rainy Days: Make Noise
If there is a nice steady rain, fish with baits that produce noise. Bass will be able to key into noisy baits like buzzbaits, chatterbaits, poppers, and square-bills. If you are fishing near rocks, bass will find it hard to resist a square-bill crankbait grinding along the bottom.
Bass fishing on days when the direct sunlight is blocked or reduced by overcast conditions or cloud cover tends be excellent. Most serious bass anglers find fishing on these days to be much more productive and efficient than on clear sky days. The aggressive feeding behavior and willingness to seek out prey means anglers can fish more aggressively tossing moving baits and covering a lot more ground quickly.
By tossing moving baits like spinnerbaits or swimbaits, anglers can cover a lot more ground and catch more bass than if they were forced to jig vertically slowly moving from cover patch to cover patch. The only real downside to bass fishing on these days is bass are more difficult to locate since they are able to roam freely and not be tightly associated with prominent cover.
How does cloud cover or overcast conditions affect smallmouth bass fishing?
On overcast and cloudy days, smallmouth bass become quite active and will roam around in search of prey. If they are located among rocks, the prey of choice will be crayfish and out in the open, shad will likely be the preferred food. Smallmouth bass fishing on overcast or cloudy bass is usually very good.
How does cloud cover or overcast conditions affect striped bass fishing?
Striped bass seem to be very light shy, especially at night. During the day, striped bass will definitely respond well when the sunlight is blocked by the clouds. At night, striped bass will feed aggressively in the upper water column when the moonlight is blocked by clouds. Fishing for striped bass on cloudy or overcast days and nights is normally the best times for anglers to have aggressive strikes and good fishing.
All credit for these great tips goes to Freshwater Fishing Advice. https://freshwaterfishingadvice.com/bass-fishing-overcast-cloudy/