Is there a day of the week that is worse for catching trout?

Updated: Jan 14

Let me throw you a scenario. It's a sunny summer weekend and you want to go fish a popular stretch of river. Then you think, "Wait, won't everyone else be doing the same thing? Instead, what if I went the Friday before, or the Monday after? Fishing would probably be better, right?"

But, is that really true?

Maybe I'm the only one who would assume so, but I have repeatedly planned weekend fishing trips around what I expect other anglers to be doing. The more popular a stretch of water is, the less likely you'll see me there on a Saturday. But the same stretch of primo river on a Wednesday might have me drooling with excitement.

So, is there any truth to avoiding the weekends to catch more fish? As with anything in fly fishing, there is no absolute truth without a healthy dose of exceptions. However, we can start to call upon our past experiences to untangle this question. As you may or may not know, I'm a big proponent of keeping a fishing log to track information that summarizes each outing. Think of a fishing log as a farmer's almanac, something you can look back on to help predict and prepare for future trips. A fishing log can also help us reflect on past outings.

I can call on my fishing logs to figure out which days of the week caught me the most fish, and see if there is a dip in catch rate during the weekend. Of course, this information is only true for me, but any data is better than none! Let's break down this graph (below) and figure out what we can learn from my almanac.

In the above figure, you'll notice each day of the week has an average catch. This is based on an average of all the fish I've caught on that day of the week. Go ahead and judge me now and get it out of the way! Fair warning, I did exclude the outlier days, including days with 0 fish and days with over 20 fish. Now consider the error bars associated with each day of the week. Think of this as a range, so for any Sunday I'm fishing, I have historically caught anywhere between 3 and 15 fish. Look at how wide the error bars are for every day of the week. This means that for any day I go fishing I could have a great day or a tough day. Big surprise.

If fishing was truly worse on the weekend, you'd expect to see a lower value associated with Saturday or Sunday. What do you think? I'm not seeing it. Alternatively, is there a day that is slightly better than the others? My Friday trips seem to be a bit better on average, but then again, Fridays also have one of the largest ranges.

Now if you really wanted to pick this apart, you might say, Andy if you're only fishing on the weekends, how can you really make any general statements about conditions during the week? It's about a 60/40 split of weekend/weekday (see below pie chart).

Another thought; if you think of the error bars in the first graph as my personal ability to adapt to changing conditions and catch fish regardless of all other factors, you might convince me that the error bars should be ignored. In that case, Sundays are slightly better than Saturdays, and fishing on a Friday is better than fishing on a Saturday. Does that justify avoiding Saturdays? I don't think it does. The best day of the week to go fishing is the one that works with your schedule. Hopefully, this gives you some confidence that you can have a great day of fishing on a Saturday, at even the most popular fishing destination.

Clear as mud? Well, imagine if I didn't have any data at all. It would all be speculation, leaving me pondering what went wrong on my drive home. That just isn't good enough for us at DWA, even if we're only starting to get clarity on this question. If you were hoping for a more definitive answer, I strongly encourage everyone to start keeping a log of their fishing experiences! At first, it might not prove useful, but eventually, you'll have enough past experiences recorded to help answer your future fishing questions.