Schuckman: Fishing in the rain is sweet music for anglers

Posted: Aug. 9, 2014 9:54 pm Updated: Sep. 20, 2014 11:59 pm

Trent Bishop didn't mind the rain.

The whipping wind was the issue.

"Watch this," Bishop said as he pulled his fishing rod back and set his line to cast, "I can't control it."

Bishop flung his line toward a spot near a half-submerged log on the banks of the Mississippi River north of Quincy when a gust of wind moved it 15 feet or so away from the target.

"Normally, I hit the spot I want nine out of 10 times," Bishop said. "With this wind, I haven't hit it once."

Reluctantly, he admitted it wouldn't matter much if he could control his line. Once the bait was in the water, the rough, choppy conditions were moving his line anyway.

"I feel like I've lost total control," Bishop said.

So why was he still there?

"In this rain, the fish are biting," Bishop said, reaching down and pulling a stringer from the water with four 16-inch catfish attached. "So I'm staying."

Being dripping wet didn't bother him either.

"I'll dry off," Bishop said. "Besides, I always keep dry clothes in my vehicle for days like this."

Bishop isn't alone in that. Veteran anglers know how to prepare for any conditions, and many of them like fishing in the rain.

There's some science behind it. Gloomy, cloudy conditions are welcoming to fish that are photophobic, meaning they shy away from bright light so they don't end up as prey for large birds or mammals. It gives them the false sense of security to search for food.

Often, with rainstorms causing runoffs and more floating debris, it lures fish into thinking more food is readily available. It makes using worms or insects as bait highly effective.

"Leave everything else in your tackle box when it rains," said Bob Sherman, a 70-year-old Hannibal, Mo., angler who fishes lakes and ponds in Northeast Missouri. "Dig up some worms or go buy some worms. You're going to catch fish with worms in the rain better than anything else you might think of using. Trust me. Use worms. It's all you need."

You need a little toughness, too.

"A lot of people don't like fishing in the rain or getting wet," Sherman said. "Usually, you're one of the few to brave the conditions. If you can hack it, it's worth it."

Typically, it means less pressure on the fish, which makes them more adventurous and easier to catch.

"I sat here in this same area for three hours a week ago and caught one fish," Bishop said. "Today, I've caught a dozen at least. Some have been too small to keep. I've lost some bites, too. The way I've been reeling them in, there has to be something significant about the weather.

"I'm not a weatherman or a biologist, but I know fish. They bite when it's raining. So bring on the showers, and I'll load up my gear."



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