Skip to content
Karl's Fishing & Outdoors Logo
Is Fog Actually Good For Fishing? A Clear Breakdown On A Cloudy Subject

Is Fog Actually Good For Fishing? A Clear Breakdown On A Cloudy Subject

Fog can certainly play mind games with anglers when they are fishing in the fall.

A thick, soupy mist can blanket a lake or river reducing visibility on the water and making navigation treacherous. Your inability to reach prime fishing spots and the uncertainty as to when the fog will lift can wreak havoc on your plans for the day.

To better understand how to deal with fog, let’s look at the following excerpts from the Chapman Piloting Seamanship and Small Boat Handling book explaining this weather phenomenon.

“Fog is merely a cloud whose base rests upon the earth’s land or water. It occurs when the water vapor near the surface of the earth condenses. Condensation of water vapor in the low levels of the atmosphere may occur for one of two reasons: the air is cooled below its dew point (temperature at which the air would become saturated if cooled at constant pressure) or the dew point is raised to air temperature through the addition of water vapor.”

There are six types of fog, but the type anglers most frequently encounter is radiation (ground) fog. The seamanship book gives the following description of this phenomenon. “Radiation fog is most prevalent in the middle and high latitudes, and can be predicted with considerable accuracy.

It is local in character and occurs most frequently in valleys and lowlands, especially near inland lakes and rivers . . . This type of fog may be patchy or uniformly dense. It bothers us chiefly in the late summer and early autumn.
“Shortly after sunrise in most areas, it will start to evaporate (“burn off”) over the land. It is slow to clear over water, however since the water warms less from night to day than does the land.”

The book lists the following six requirements needed to form radiation fog:
  • It must be night.
  • The air must be stable.
  • It must be colder than the air a short distance aloft.
  • It must be relatively moist.
  • The sky must be clear so that the earth can readily lose heat by radiation to outer space.
  • The wind must be light to calm.
  • While it’s unpreventable, fog is at least fairly predictable so you can formulate some type of plan to deal with it.

Look for areas close to your launch site and avoid trying to make long runs in the fog. Once the fog clears you can make that long run if necessary.
Fog-bound anglers can take advantage of this situation on certain bodies of water and during certain seasons.

Fishing in the fog is better in the fall than in the early spring because bass are getting more active as the water temperature is cooling in the fall whereas with a fog in early spring the bass have been deep and the fish are less active in the colder water.

On clear-water fisheries, you can sometimes look for fog-blanketed areas to start fishing on sunny mornings. Fishing in the fog on clear-water lakes then gives you that little bit of extra advantage over the fish in that it hides you a little bit.

Patchy fog is another predicament you have to solve. Your launch area might be clear, but an upper river arm can become so enshrouded that it prevents you from reaching your prime spots. In that case you need to shut down and start fishing a promising-looking spot.

Fog in the fall is an ideal condition for throwing topwater lures. When fog is present generally there is no wind so a topwater lure such as a Zara Spook works really well especially when the water temperature is still above 60 degrees.

Fog can be a hindrance, but taking the proper precautions and finding some productive spots close to your launch site will prevent this weather phenomenon from ruining your day on the water.

Updated October 19th, 2020 at 12:21 PM CT