I have been asked quite often what conditions are best for carp fishing. Most carp anglers have varying opinions on the subject due to their past experiences. Some people fish more often on sunny days rather than in the rain, thus believing they have greater success on sunny days.
Do Carp Feed or Bite in the Rain?
Yes, carp do feed and bite in the rain. From my past experience carp fishing in the rain, I can easily state that yes sometimes more so than on sunny days. There are many factors that come into play when it rains as to why carp continue to feed.
Some of my best carp fishing sessions have been on rainy days. During the Canada Carp Cup, a 77-hour long event, many different weather systems moved through our area. I found that we had most runs during or shortly after a spell of rainy weather.
Increased Oxygen Levels in the Water
While carp fishing in the rain one can take advantage of increased oxygen levels in the water. Fish will have more energy and be more likely to get up and move to search for food. After a spell of calm warm weather carp will tend to bask in the sun of shallow bays to conserve energy as oxygen levels drop. Once the rain starts and water temperatures drop/oxygen levels rise, carp will become energized and move to prime foraging areas and catch up on the feeding they have been neglecting.
The water current can play a huge factor in carp feeding habits. After a summer storm, rivers and creeks will flow faster, dislodging vegetation and other organic matter that carp feed on. I tend to set up in natural choke points in water bodies such as this. The carp will be set up just below tighter areas in slack water. The current will be stronger between these natural choke points and more likely to push food directly into the eddies where carp feed.
Organic Matter Run-Off
When the rain becomes a deluge lots of organic material will be washed directly into water bodies that carp inhabit. Be sure to target these areas as the carp will be feeding close to shore to take advantage of any insects or organic material that is swept into the water. The water will also become murkier as sediment is washed in, carp can find food with their olfactory senses, the murkier water will stimulate the carp and they will be more inclined to feed.
Less Fishing Pressure
When weather conditions are ideal the majority of anglers will plan to head out on the water. I often prefer fishing on rainy days due to the fact that there are fewer people in the prime fishing spots.
Aside from there being a greater variety of angling locations to choose from, there will also be less pressure on the fish themselves. When the carp feel more comfortable feeding in an area the chances will obviously be greater of catching them.
I have observed some interesting things while carp angling that I would never have noticed bass, pike or walleye fishing. While fishing for carp I often set up on the bank in one location and fish there for a long period of time. When I targeted other species I was constantly on the move in my boat.
While in one spot for a longer duration I noticed many different boats coming and going throughout the day targeting other species. I’ve noted that over the course of 8 hours that 15 different boats came and drifted the same spot on a river targeting walleye while the first boat was the only one to catch any fish.
Slightly Cooler Water Temperatures
With the fresh rain in the summer months, it will cool water temperatures slightly. This will affect carp movement, especially if it follows a long spell of warm weather. The oxygen content will be slightly higher in the cooler water as mentioned above, sluggish fish that have been basking in warm shallow water will be energized and be encouraged to move and forage for food.
I’ve been astonished by how fast carp will start feeding after a change in weather patterns. I have had many sessions where I’ve gone without a bite for hours on end in nice sunny weather, shortly after seeking shelter when a downpour hits, which is usually when the bloody bite alarm screams off.
Reduced Visibility but Increased Movement and Carp Activity
With the increased runoff and current during or after a rainstorm, water clarity will definitely be affected. Unlike other species of fish that rely mainly on sight for food, carp are equipped with a vast array of senses to detect and locate food. With other highly adapted senses such as smell and touch, carp have no issue finding food in murky water.
Fish movement is increased in murky waters. Carp are no exception. We can’t see the fish as easily from land but this also means the fish can’t see us so they are more likely to feed in areas closer to us for longer periods of time. Due to water clarity issues, carp are required to be more active to locate food, the more carp moving through your fishing area increase the odds of one taking your bait.
High Pressure Versus Low Pressure
As carp are so large, high-pressure and low-pressure weather fronts can have a big impact on their behaviour. I believe the bigger the fish are the more impact these pressure systems can have.
Carp Fishing in High-Pressure Weather
On bright blue sky days, carp can be found higher up in the water column. Soaking up the sun or cruising around through different depths. It can be trickier to target them as anglers are required to adjust tactics to target them on the surface or in the middle of the water column.
Carp Fishing in Low-Pressure Weather
When the weather turns and the clouds move in, carp are often found closer to the bottom. This will increase success on the bank as most of us target carp on the bottom. Carp will also stay in the area longer once finding your bait as they aren’t cruising as much.
Weather patterns and High Pressure versus Low Pressure are popular topics in any angling community. Some anglers agree they have major effects on fish behaviour while others believe there is no difference. In my personal experience, I notice a big difference while fishing in both high and low-pressure conditions, I will explain the topic further in a future article as it is quite vast.
Carp Feeding in the Rain can Vary Depending on the Season
As I stated above carp fishing in the rain can be quite rewarding but it also depends a lot on the season. Cool rains that turn fish on in the summer and fall can just as easily turn fish off in winter and early spring.
Summer and Fall
- With water temperatures being warm and running above the optimal activity levels that carp prefer a quick burst of rain can lower water temperatures slightly causing an increase in carp activity.
- There is an abundance of organic matter, aquatic vegetation and natural foods that carp forage for that are disturbed when it rains in summer and fall causing fish to feed.
Winter and Early Spring
- In early spring water temperatures are slowly warming and fish are becoming more active. If there is even a short spell of rain at this time of year the cooler temperature will turn fish off feeding and send them back to deeper waters where they spend the winter months.
- Aquatic vegetation and invertebrates carp feed on are dormant during this time of year and carp tend to stay in certain areas and avoid moving large distances to conserve energy.
Must-Have Gear for Carp Fishing in the Rain
Over the years I have spent many days out in foul weather. To be successful and enjoy your time outdoors in the rain one must be prepared. Listed below are some items that will make the experience much more enjoyable.
Bivvies and Brollys
Especially for long-duration sessions, one must have a bivvy with a waterproof cover. Somewhere to dry yourself off and stay that way while waiting for the bite alarm to sound is essential. Aside from yourself, it is much more enjoyable if all your gear is kept high and dry, tying rigs and preparing bait is much easier inside out of the cold damp rain.
Boat with Full Enclosure
One main feature I made sure my boat had was a full stand-up top. Very important for being out on the water on rainy days. It’s almost the same as a bivvy but on the water. Many boats just come with a bimini top to shade anglers from the sun. I opted for a full stand-up enclosure for if the weather really gets bad I’m still high and dry to enjoy what little free time I do have to get out.
Quality Rain Gear
On rainy days when the bite is on you will definitely be in and out of your shelter quite often. Quality raingear will keep you dry and comfortable making things easier on you and the fish. If you’re comfortable you’re more likely to take your time landing and releasing fish, preventing slips and injury to both parties! (Yes, unfortunately, I speak from personal experience. Injury to myself more so than the fish!)
For those times when the bite is slow. It is nice to be able to dry off yourself and gear to get some proper rest between bites. Multiple camp towels are a must for me. Even if it isn’t raining these often come in handy for me. When landing big fish I often end up wetter than them!
One of the most important aspects when fishing for any length of time on the bank in wet conditions is proper footwear. Three questions I ask myself when choosing quality carp fishing footwear on rainy days.
- Is it waterproof? For many sessions, I have been unprepared for wet conditions and ended my trips early due to sloshing around in wet shoes. There is nothing worse than having to hop out of a nice dry/warm sleeping bag and into cold/wet running shoes when the bite alarm sounds. When the temperatures permit I usually just wear my waders during the day.
- Is it easy to slide on and off? I sometimes take two different types of footwear. During the day if I’m spending a decent amount of time in the water landing fish, baiting and scouting areas I will stay in my waders. I will take a second pair of shoes to slip on and off during the night hours.
- Does it have a decent sole? Many of the locations where I fish are very rocky and have large boulders. When it rains the rocks become quite slippery. It is very important to have a shoe with a sole that will grip wet slippery surfaces when fighting large fish.
If your feet are dry and comfortable you will be able to stay out on the bank longer and increase your catch rates during those rainy day sessions.
I hope the information provided here was of help and that it encourages others to continue carp fishing in the rain, some of my biggest carp have been caught in nasty weather.