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When's the best time to go fishing?

By Dennis Radloff - August 1, 2004
Through my travels in the fishing industry I have heard many questions far and broad pertaining to presentation, location, techniques, gear, electronics, boats, motors, and every thing in between. However, there is one question that seems to surface more than any with the greatest degree of intrigue. "When's the best time to go fishing?"

Here's where books could be written to the end of time and still never cover every little detail when we start talkingfishing conditions. Every one has their favorites when it comes to water temperature, wind direction, air temperature, sunny, cloudy, rain, drizzle, snow, fog, mist, moon phase, barometric pressure, and more. One thing I have noticed, sometimes painfully, being on the water everyday (sometimes 30 days in a row) is that conditions just don't seem to matter at all! I have pulled up to the boat landing on certain mornings just convinced we would break the new world record by the end of the day given the conditions we had, and come off the lake getting SKUNKED! And the other side of that same coin is just as confusing when the conditions couldn't seem worse and have the day of a lifetime on the water? What gives? Why is it like that? We have so much information available to us today when it comes to fishing, no matter what species you're going after, they still kick our tail some times. While a great degree of that information is based on years of experience, scientific study, and proven results, there's one factor that nobody will ever control and that's good old Mother Nature. Until you put a Musky on the witness stand, under oath, and get direct answers in plain English we'll never know all the sure reasons why they do what they do, and don't when they don't. We have an "idea" why lure size, color, speed, depth, and profile play a factor, but I have seen so many fish hit

"My belief starts with the thought that the most important element is having a lure in the water..."
lures that I never would have dreamed. Why did they do it, I don't know, ask the fish!

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not taking anything away from the proven tactics and techniques that have been established by the nations best for decades. I'm just setting the stage for the argument of when the best time to go fishing is. I'm sure most of you have an idea of where I'm going with this and the answer is simple. "Any time you can!" Between the balancing act of a family, career, and all our other personal responsibilities it seems we run out of time too often just trying to get the basics covered in the average day. While a good portion of my guide trips are booked well in advance, and usually in conjunction with a favorable moon phase or proven time frame of the season, a great degree of my trips are booked in conjunction to my clients availability. My belief starts with the thought that the most important element is having a lure in the water. As long as you are out there my belief is that your chances are "excellent" every minute you have a line in the water. Once you're out there even if things are slow, you can spend hours making your adjustments trying to figure out the pattern, and at the end of the trip even if you get skunked it's hard to argue which view was better between the couch and the boat.

How many times have you debated weather to go out fishing or stay home, and decided to stay home because the conditions didn't "seem right" or because "things have been slow lately"? Fish activity changes out there on a constant basis and where are you gong to be when it happens, in the boat or in front of the TV. One of the greatest benefits of going whenever you can is that you become a well-rounded angler. The more you fish different conditions, the more proficient you will become with a wider variety of presentations and techniques.

So what have we established with all my ramblings here? Don't get hung up waiting for the "right" conditions to go fishing next time, just go whenever you can. You'll be surprised in short order just how active the fish can be all day long. You might need to look much deeper than you thought, or try something completely new, but one thing I will guarantee is this, your chances are 100% better on the water than sitting at home waiting for the right conditions.

Now turn the computer off and go fishing so you can come back later and post about all the fish you caught! Good luck out there and be safe.

Watch for my "3 part" Musky article that will run September through November exclusively on so you will have some techniques to try hitting the water "whenever you can".

On a side note, the pictures included with this article are "whenever" fish that were a total bonus because the "conditions didn't seems right."

Author Dennis Radloff
Dennis Radloff
Dennis Radloff is the owner and operator of Sterling Guide Service which specializes in Walleye and Musky Fishing. Dennis has helped run and coordinate many of the Youth Tournaments. He is also a PMTT angler, Dave's Turf & Marine/Princecraft Pro Staff, and a Mepp's Field Staffer.
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