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10 Reasons You’re Not Catching Fish

tips for catching fish

If you’re looking for tips for catching fish, you may want to avoid some of these.

From shallow water to deep water, and from early morning to late evening nothing can spoil a day out on the water like getting skunked. Fishing tips to get you going in the right direction are generally positive and links to experience, but sometimes that experience includes what not to do.

You’ve been planning that fishing trip for a while now, maybe for largemouth bass, striped bass, or even northern pike so don’t let your guard down to some of the things that can cause an empty creel.

Here are a few of the reasons that you’ve heard of, and maybe one or two that will surprise you!

1. The season

The dog-days of summer may be better for a picnic or camping trip than trying to catch fish during the daylight hours, but it’s not impossible. Between the amount of sunlight and the water temperature bass fishing can be wholly uncooperative at this time.

2. Water temperature

When the water begins to warm in the spring, species like bass and catfish start to activate and case baitfish, whereas trout and salmon disappear to seek colder waters. Trying to catch salmonids in shallow water will get you no further than trying to catch bass on a floating frog imitation over a deep water drop-off.

3. Color choice

I’ve owned two different Color-C-Lectors in my day and when it told me that a brown crawfish color was best in the clear water I was using, bigger fish like smallies began hitting it. Using the same pattern in dingy or muddy water won’t garner you many strikes.

4. Bad time of day

Simple know how: When the midday sun is the highest and light penetration is at its most glaring, fish can clam up. Morning and evenings can be the best times to have your bait in the water. Cloudy days will give the angler the most amount of productive time on the water.

tips for catching fish
Iowa DNR

5. Fishing too deep

Getting your bait below the thermocline in summer will have it in water that has little oxygen. A good depth finder or graph will show you the break line where different fish species are suspending, telling you approximately where the temperature of cool and warmer water comes together.

6. Too fast of a retrieve

This is a must how to fish, particularly in summer and winter conditions. An ice fisherman jigging with a spoon or live bait will need to mind his rod tip for slower movement and the warm weather fisherman the reel handle in his hand. Sluggish fish in either condition need to be compelled to strike with finesse.

7. Bait too big

The fishing experience of bass fisherman from Texas to California have proven that big—no, huge bass— will strike big swimbaits, but too often just a small difference in size can make a big difference in what you are catching. Sometimes a big-bladed spinnerbait will catch fish, and other times a crappie spin will do just as well.

8. Bad location

A large area of open water with little or no cover won’t ever be as productive as weed beds, downed timber, or a rock pile without electronics to help you see what is and is not there. You may spend far too much time casting or drifting without success trying to hook up, but for some that’s the game plan.

9. Cold front conditions

The bane of the fisherman is the inevitable cold front coming through the area while you have your fishing rod in your hands. When the barometer drops so do your chances of catching fish, but with a little research tactics like fishing deeper water ledges, channel bends, and submerged points can still lead to success.

tips for catching fish
Craig Raleigh

10. You’re not holding your mouth right

You read that correctly: “You’re not holding your mouth right” While you’re laughing read on: my maternal grandmother Alice use to say this every single time we weren’t catching anything. A fisherman for life, she was was of the best anglers I ever knew, but she understood one thing that we all know as fishermen- luck plays a part in all of our outdoor adventures and sometimes you need a little something that’s not in your tackle box to make you forget everything when it goes bad!

A simple reminder of things we already know is what makes a good fisherman a great one. Don’t be afraid to go back to the playbook once in a while for some good advice, especially when you’re planning to take a kid out on the water!

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10 Reasons You’re Not Catching Fish