Fishing is one of the few outdoor hobbies that can be enjoyed almost all year round (with some dependence on geography of course). While you obviously have to alter the way that you dress and the gear that you use, you can enjoy the unparalleled relaxation of fishing no matter what the weather is like outside. However, each season does vary in the best time of day to get your line in the water. Here’s a quick look at the best time of day to get to your favorite fishing spot during different seasons to land the big one.

General Rule of Thumb

If the water temperature is cold, small increases in temperature (warm days and/or more sunlight) can often cause the fish to start biting. Conversely, when the water is warm/hot, fish can be most active when the water cools off (nighttime or overcast/cooler days etc.) 


Afternoon into early evening are your best times to get to the water in the spring. Since the sun is directly overhead the water is much warmer. Combined with the fact that an increased metabolism creates a major spike in fishes’ appetite, most fish will be the most active between 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM.


While it’s the time of the year that many people love to hop on their boats and spend a day on the water, you’re likely to only have any real success if you get started before the sun has even come up on the water or well after it has gone down. During the hours from before sunrise into mid-morning, fish are able to find a plethora of food options and an abundance of covering can make them hard to find, but they are active. From sundown until dark many fish come out due to the decrease in water temperatures so you may have some good luck later in the day.


Getting on the water in the afternoon will produce the best results when the cool autumn air has crept in. Early morning leaves the water too cool for most fish to even be active enough to pursue food and the early part of the afternoon isn’t much better. The mid-afternoon sun gets over the water and stays there for several hours which drives the fish out of hiding and into a search for food. That search for food is even more pronounced by the fish that are looking to bulk up before the winter.

Your state’s department of fish and wildlife can provide more in-depth information concerning the species of fish that are native to your area and their habits but these rules are a good starting point.