Have you caught any fish today? Did you catch any in the last seven or eight fishing trips? If the answer is no, there are certainly some changes you need to make if you want to catch fish. Not being able to catch fish after investing so much time and effort into the sport is always disheartening but many people are in the same boat. Everybody wants to catch fish when they go fishing but not everyone gets to. If you want to get hooked up as soon as possible, we need to first start by answering the question. Why can’t I catch fish? What am I doing wrong?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. There could be an entire laundry list of reasons why the fish are not biting your hooks. Today, we are going to be filling in some of those blanks for you. We will also be learning some extra things that you can try so you can get hooked up with more fish more often. Many of the greatest professional anglers such as Bill Dance and Roland Martin are black bass fisherman but many of their tips and tricks can be applied universally to absolutely any fish in North America across the board. Try out these tips everywhere.
You May Be Fishing In Very Bad Water – No, Seriously
Not all bodies of water are created equal. You’ll never catch fish unless the place your fishing has fish to catch. This is not all either. Many people cannot catch fish out of what I like to refer to as “bad water”. Bad water is not a dictionary term that you will find in any angler dictionary either. Bad water is simply how it sounds. Water that is bad to fish in. Many factors go into creating an environment that prevents the angler from catching fish. For example, highly pressured lakes and streams are almost cataclysmically hard to catch fish out of.
At one point, it may have been a great place to get some catches. Now though, the fish inside have been caught so many times that they no longer bite anything remotely suspicious. It is also very possible that anglers have harvested the best spawning fish in the water resulting in poor population numbers. I don’t mean that you cannot catch fish in a pressured lake. It just means you are going to have to think out of the box when it comes to bait selection and gear.
Most people cannot catch fish out of pressured fisheries unless they are very good at what they are doing. Chances are, if you are reading this post, you need some advice. Here is some advice for you. Do not fish in bad water. Give yourself the best chance of success and fish at a place where catching fish is more likely already.
You Are Not In The Right Location For “The Good Bite”
Selecting a body of water over another is one thing. Selecting the areas and finding the fish within that given body of water is another one entirely. Now, you’re at a place that gives you a decent chance of hooking into a fish. Because of this, you gained a shred of confidence that you will catch something eventually. Cast after cast, it doesn’t seem like life exists below the surface. Don’t worry. It happens. The next thing you should do is find the fish.
Unless you put your bait in front of a fish, it won’t get bit. Most of the time, fish locations change and fishing spots vary in effectiveness. If you really want to get the most out of your limited time which is ever so valuable, it really does help to know the biology or the habits of the species you want to hook into. Different species of fish relate to different areas of the water column. If you were just out fun fishing for “whatever bites”, you may be doing yourself a great disservice. This is because there is no guarantee that fish of any species will exist where you need them to exist.
Usually, fishing for “whatever bites” results in a lot of panfish such as bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, and shellcracker. Often left out are coveted species like largemouth bass, crappie, walleye, pike, carp, catfish, and sturgeon. If you are targeting panfish specifically, then that is fine. Otherwise, you won’t catch much else. As an example, crappie usually inhabit sunken brush and cover such as trees, rocks, piers, and underwater plant pilings. Fishing for them in open water simply won’t produce.
Tie On Another Fishing Lure Or Another Bait Option
It is no surprise that you will fail to catch a fish on every bait in your box. If one lure isn’t working, try everything else until you find one that works. Day by day, fish change their preferences based on conditions, water temperature, water clarity, and entire list of other factors. This pretty much goes for all bait too. So many fishing lures and baits exist to catch different fish at different times. If you are a bass angler, put down that jerkbait and tie on a jig or put down that swimbait and tie on a spinner. If you’re after common carp, put down corn and try bread, chickpeas, or dog food.
Choosing another fishing lure is not rocket science either. Generally speaking, I suggest that you start by throwing baits that closely resemble the food of the local population. If you are after bass, start by throwing baitfish profiles and then slowly transition into crayfish imitations and finally frogs. If that doesn’t work, try using worms or creature baits. Color and size go hand-in-hand. Always choose the right size and the right color. When in doubt, choose something smaller and natural. Always change the color before changing the size. Use dark and bright colors inside of dirty water and natural-looking lures in clear applications.
The Fish Can See Your Line And Are Scared Off Easy
I have heard from at least one other person that fish do not care if they can see your line. I’m not here to tell you that it is untrue or that it is true. What I will tell you is that honestly, it depends. It really depends on what species your after. Some fish have great vision and are easily spooked by line and some just flat-out don’t care. Black crappie, white crappie, and hybrid crappie are examples of fish that do not care about line visibility. You can toss out a jig on a wire.
These fish wouldn’t mind. Channel catfish are another example of this behavior. Since they don’t use their eyes to hunt primarily, they are not bothered by fishing line. On the other hand, some species have pristine eyesight such as smallmouth bass and northern pike. Spool your rod up with invisible line if you want to catch those. Try using the lightest pound test that you can reliably catch fish on. Set the drag properly and make it your go- to rig. Use invisible strands or ones that blend into the natural surroundings. Avoid high visibility strands unless you are fishing heavy cover, using a leader, or going after a fish that could care less.
You Are Not Fishing At The Right Time Of Day
Believe it or not, fishing at the right time of day actually does make a difference on how much you catch. Fish tend to be most active right before sunrise as well as right before sunset. This is usually when most predator species as well as panfish prefer to forage or hunt. Fishing at the wrong time of day can turn a switch on you getting bit or not. Again, the preferences will vary from species to species. Some of the best catfish are caught at night and some of the best bluegill are caught in the morning. Try not to be out when everyone else is.
Tried to get off the beaten path and fish at a time where the fish feel the most comfortable eating. In the meantime, it will make you a better angler by allowing you to learn what colors to use and what lure types. Most species prefer not to feed during the middle of the day because this is often when predators come to feast on fish as well. Seagulls, birds, and other animals that rely on their site will do a heavy amount of feeding and in some bodies of water, the right time of day can make the difference. There are days in which it doesn’t matter. There will be those times although rare where you can go out at any time of the day and catch fish regardless.
You Are Fishing Faster Or Slower Than What Fish Want
Sometimes, it is not your fishing lure, line, or even fishing spot that is the problem. Sometimes, all you have to do is throw the same lure you have been throwing differently. When I say differently, I don’t mean throwing it in another location. When you complete a cast and nothing hits your hooks, you need to have a realization of options.
First, there are no candidates and nothing will work. Second, you need to change something in your setup rather it be a line diameter or even a different fishing knot. Last, you could be doing everything right except retrieving the fishing lure incorrectly. Always experiment with different retrieves. Always. Speed it up. Slow it down. Jerk It.
Pop it. Let it sit. Imparting these actions with your rod tip adds an entire level of extra catching power to your bait. Just because something doesn’t work the first time, that doesn’t mean you cannot hook up into a trophy just by varying the way you bring it back in. When the water is warm, we always suggest speeding things up a little bit especially during the spawn when the fish get really aggressive. Use the most popular forage or throw an artificial that has a lot of movement and displaces a lot of water.
During the coldest months of winter, most spawning females and males become lethargic and hesitant. At this time, you must really take your time and impart “patience” into your rod tip. Impart less action than you think you need. Every time you want to move the bait, move it just a little bit slower.
You Can Catch Fish If You Know What To Look For
Catching fish is not really that hard as long as you know how to adapt your presentation to your situation. Choosing a lure, changing spots, and waiting a few minutes are all things that you can try when the fish do not seem to be cooperating. Most of the time, there are fish in the area that you’re fishing at but you need to change your approach in a way that entices them. The main thing to do is not lose hope in yourself. You may get frustrated but keep trying until you succeed.
What is your secret to getting the fish to bite? Tell us below!