Eighty degrees and low humidity is about as good as it gets weather-wise in Maryland, although some may prefer slightly cooler fall days. A slight breeze and blue sky are enough to draw nearly everyone outside, except for my sleepy, device-addicted children. I’ll often get asked on nicer weather days if I’m headed out fishing “because it’s such a nice day.” It’s hard to find the most polite response, but in my mind I’m thinking, “bluebird days are no good for fishing!” For many other sports, such as swimming, biking, and skiing, bluebird days are preferred. Bluebird days are defined as cloudless, blue sky days.
It’s commonly discussed amongst anglers that cloudy, even rainy, somewhat dreary and downright nasty days can be best for fishing, especially fly fishing. Lower light conditions cause anglers to cast fewer shadows, which is a tremendous benefit to reducing spooking fish. Low light is also believed to impede the vision of fish above the water surface, allowing anglers to more closely approach fish and have greater tolerance for clumsy presentations. It’s likely that cloudy days also affect the vision of predators such as herons and osprey, lessening the pressure on fish.
From a fishing experience standpoint, I also prefer fishing on cloudy, rainy, and even snowy days. I value solitude, or at least having large stretches of water to myself. Warm, sunny days bring people to the river, including kayakers, tubers, hikers, dog walkers, and anglers. Having a kayaker float right in front of where I am fishing is tremendously frustrating. I understand that we share our public lands and natural resources, but I get annoyed by the lack of awareness and etiquette of others. But if you don’t know, you don’t know.
Looking through my fishing notes, I do catch more fish on cloudy days. My drivers for fishing revolve around catching fish, but relaxation, mental health, and time in nature are my primary reasons to fish. Time on the river helps me in many ways. There are times when I feel like I need a break and some stress-relief, and regardless of weather, I will find some time to fish. But if my hopes are building for catching fish, then it is better to take advantage of a cloudy or foul-weather day to fish.
Beautiful weather days also present opportunities for other outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, barbequing, gardening, and spending time outside with my family. Taking advantage of those opportunities is enjoyable too. So when I get asked “Are you going fishing because it is so nice outside?”, the answer is probably still yes. But I prefer to fish on cloudy days. So next time it’s a cloudy day, you can ask an angler you know, “It’s a beautiful day to fish. You headed to the stream?”.