Displeased man didn't catch a fish on fishing.
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10 Reasons You’re Not Catching Fish

What to consider when nothing is biting.

Sometimes the fishing is bad but you're not sure why. It seems like you're doing everything right: You've got the equipment, it's a bright sunny day, and things should be coming together...but they aren't.

There is often a lot more to fishing that just casting a line out and getting lucky. Several factors can come together to either make a great fishing day or a poor one, including the weather, bait selection, location, and more.

The following considerations may help narrow down what went wrong during your last fishing flop.

1. You're Not Fishing to the Species 

Know the ins and outs of the fish you're chasing. You can't pursue walleye the same way you pursue trout. Knowing the habits of the habits of your target species is a key point to success. For example, walleye are crepuscular critters, meaning they are most active during the dusky twilight hours. If you stroll out to the lake at 7:30 am and stay until 1pm, you're missing the feeding hours.

Learn more in our guides to fishing bass, walleye, and brown trout.

2. You're Not Paying Attention to 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. For colder water, check out our Tips For Spring Bass Fishing and Spring Walleye Fishing; and for hot water, try our Bass Fishing Tips for the Dog Days of Summer or Tips for Catching Warm-Water Walleyes.

3. You Using the Wrong Colors

Certain tools, such as the Color-C-Lector, help anglers determine which colors will potentially work best for the conditions they are fishing in. It suggested a brown crawfish color for clear water bass fishing and voila! Suddenly bigger fish like smallmouth began hitting. Using the same pattern in dingy or muddy water probably won't garner as many strikes.

4. It's the Wrong 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.

5. You're 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. Your Retrieve is Rushed

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. You're Choosing the Wrong Bait

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. Your Location is All Wrong

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. You're Not Adjusting to 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.

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. She was one 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!

READ MORE: 11 of the Best Fishing Fundamentals I Ever Learned