Fish not biting your bait?
As frustrating as it can get, even for experienced or professional anglers, everyone experiences it. You can see the fish swimming or you can see the fish jumping, but they are just not biting. (story of our lives right?) Everyone tries to explain it away; using water conditions, water temperature, or many other reasons for the fish to not be biting.
There are a wide array of reasons why you can see them jumping (or swimming) but non interested in your presentation, not wanting to bite on your enticing lure/bait. We are going to review some of the reasons, thoughts, and ideas that anglers have reported experiencing.
Reasons why fish are jumping but not biting…
- The area is overfished
- Using the wrong lure
- Using the wrong color lure
- Using the wrong sized lure
- Fish can smell human scent
- Retrieve speed too slow/fast
- try fishing shallower/deeper
If you are in a tournament, there may be too many fishermen too close together.
It may be the fact that you just can not figure out what lure/bait the fish are attracted to that day.
It could just be that you see them jumping and others catching like crazy, and it just isn’t your day.
Professional or not, you are not going to have a successful trip or tournament every time you get out on the water. Some of it boils down to luck or casting just the right lure/bait at just the right moment.
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Another possibility, when fish are jumping but not biting, is because you are second guessing yourself. You are spending more time changing baits and lures and location than actually fishing.
If you change your lure, you need to give that lure time to work ( or not work ). You can not change it every five minutes or expect an instant result on the first cast out. Just as with the bait, you have to give the location you are fishing a fair chance. You can not fish in one spot for 2 minutes to and then up and move to a new spot. Relax and take your time. Give your strategy time to work (or more than 10 minutes to prove it isn’t going to work) before you start changing things.
Sometimes fishermen are almost too faithful to their lures. Most anglers feel if they have had good luck with a certain lure in the past, then they need to continue to use that lure every time they go out onto the water. This one is my Favorite on AmazonBut, if you see fish jumping but not biting, then maybe you need to give the lure a break, bite the bullet and try something else that is in your tackle box. You may be surprised if you change the lure/bait and try something that you have not fished with in a long time, or even something you have never tried and you actually get a bite. If you are interested in checking out the best fishing lures you can find them by clicking here
If you are fishing from shore and the fish are 10-15 feet away and still not biting; it is likely because they detect a shadowy figure. They are not scared enough to swim away, but they are suspicious enough to not strike at your presentation. Especially if you are constantly changing your bait/lure, they get ‘skeptical’ of what is going on, and they begin to not even pay attention to what is being launched in their direction. Try longer casting or finding a place where shadows are not as visible in the clearer, closer water. Fish are smarter than we give them credit for, and when they sense that something isn’t quite right they are not going to engage.
There are a multitude of other reasons why fish are not biting, whether you can physically see them swimming or jumping, or you are seeing other small signs of their presence. My buddy Eric has a lot of good advice for freshwater fisherman
My buddy Eric Rybak has a lot of good advice for freshwater anglers as well. You can check out his site at freshwaterfishingadvice.com
So we are going to discuss a couple of the reasons to tell whether or not your day of fishing is going to be good or bad, before you even hit the water.
1. No matter what time of the day it is, when you arrive at the lake/river, assess what the day is showing. What is nature telling you about the day?? If you get out of your vehicle and the wind is calm and quiet, there is no animal movement or crickets chirping, no birds flying anywhere above the lake, and no water movement (the water looks like a sheet of glass) then you can almost bet it is going to be a slow, quiet day. The indication of all the quietness, means that nature is taking a break or being ‘lazy’ and that is a good sign that the fish are docile and not really active at that particular time.
So, just the opposite actions of nature, would mean the opposite in the fish biting world. If you arrive at the lake and you can hear crickets chirping, see even the smallest water movement, feel a slight breeze and maybe even see the fish jumping then you can be confident that it is going to be a good fish biting trip.
The biggest indication whether it will be good or bad is the birds. If birds are flying overhead then they see fish or bait fish being active and they are hoping to dive in for a snack. If there are no birds flying overhead, then the fish may not be very active. You might have to work hard in order to trigger a reaction bite.
There is also the chance that you can have calm waters with very little breeze or water movement and still have a great fishing day. If nature is telling you that things are ‘active’ in the area then using fast moving baits to locate the active fish will be your best bet. Spinner-baits and inline spinners are top choice. Once you have taken the time to really focus on what nature is telling you, you can plan your day/strategy on how you can snag the active, jumping, and biting fish.
2. Another way to get a feel for whether or not it will be a good fishing day is to observe HOW you catch a fish. Focus on the following;
– what time of day is it
– where are you – deep water or shallow water
– what bait are you using – color & size
– how fast/slow was your retrieval
– how did the fish strike
If the fish barely has the hook snagged in its lip, then that is an indication that they are just nibbling around here and there. Now, if the fish swallows your hook and bait or jumps up out of the water to snag what is on your hook then you can safely assume that it is feeding time. Just remember, a feeding frenzy doesn’t last very long, so you want to get that hook/lure back out into the water as soon as you can.
So as you can see, there are a few reasons why the fish may be jumping but not biting. Nothing is ever guaranteed, it is all speculations and what other anglers have experienced and how they have handled the situation of fish not biting. You can make your own speculations, keep track of your own experiences and share them with others. Fishing is never going to be predictable and so you just have to go out and have fun, whether you catch fish or not. Catching dinner is just a bonus!! So go out, relax, and have fun with your friends and family.
what do you do when you notice the fish are following your lure right up to the boat/shore and then they turn and swim away? A lot of the same principles apply here as with what is mentioned earlier.
The same principles apply as far as trying to determine whether it is going to be a good or bad fishing day, the moment you arrive at your destination. Here we are going to cover some other possibilities of why this happens and what you can do to remedy the situation.
Before you go out on the water or find a cozy quiet place on the shoreline, evaluate the weather and what nature is telling you. Come up with a plan on how you want to approach fishing for the day. Stick to the plan, have fun, and be patient. As the day progresses, nature will continue to give you hints about the fish and what you must do to catch them. Make sure that you have all the most popular lures for the type of fish you are seeking out. Color, size, trailers, and any extras that you can think of.
If you can physically see the fish following your lure, you get excited. You think this is the one, it is going to strike, and then BOOM; it turns and swims away. Your heart sinks, and you cast again. Some anglers believe that the fish are telling you something. They are suggesting that something is not quite right. You are on the right path, doing the right things, but something is just a little bit ‘off’ and it is causing them to swim away instead of bite.
When this happens, you will then need to begin the process of elimination and experimentation. They obviously like something about the lure you are using but dislike another aspect of it. The easiest thing that you can try is your retrieval speed. But if they are following your lure now, is that really the issue? Some would say that it is not, but others would say that you should still mix it up and find out for sure.
Before you change your lure try spraying some fish oil or garlic on it. Keep in mind that it’s possible the fish are detecting your scent on the lure and you’ll need to mask it.
Your next possibility is going to be changing the color of the lure. Not the style/type, just the color. Maybe they like the lure you are using and the size you are enticing them with, but the color is not quite what they are looking for. So, you go through your tackle box and retrieve your various colors. Make sure to give each new change time to work (or not work). As you are changing the lure colors, experiment with the speed of retrieval or the way you are jigging the lure.
If changing colors doesn’t seem to be working, then some anglers suggest that you go back to your original color but change the size of the lure. Go down a size and see if something smaller is what they are craving. See if your jigging method with a smaller lure entices the attack. It may get a little boring but try to be patient. They are following but not biting the lure for a reason. It is just going to take a little time to figure out what they want. You can also try moving to a shadier spot and trying out some topwater lures. But don’t get discouraged if you don’t figure it out. It just may not be the day to catch any fish. But only to be able to observe them.
One other way that anglers have suggested, who have had this exact same issue with picky fish; if you are using a jig or a spinner bait, try adding a trailer. If none of these options are working for you it possibly may just not be your lucky day. The fish are just there to tease you and make your mouth water, thinking of the amazing ways that you can cook them up.
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As with our earlier paragraph, read nature. What is the atmosphere telling you? Is it calm, quiet, cool, cloudy, and are there birds present? If there are birds present, then you will need to decide if you want to launch your boat into the water or if you may have more luck from the shore. There are so many variables and speculations on why you are or are not having any luck catching fish. Especially when you can clearly see other anglers catching them right and left.
If you are on vacation and fishing in a completely new area, take a break. Have lunch at a local café or go hang out at the local bait shop and see what the locals are saying. They will know the area extremely well and can tell you different things to try, the ‘lucky’ spots for certain species, the perfect time of day, bait/lure to use, and anything else that may help you out.
If a certain species of fish is ‘teasing’ you by following your lure, and then shunning it maybe you need to try fishing for a different species all together. Completely change your lure/bait and see if you can entice a different type of fish to strike. It may just be that a species isn’t interested or hungry at that point and instead of stressing yourself out, by trying to figure out what they want, aim for something else.
Many bodies of water that hold fish, have many different species swimming around together. You may have to change location completely or you may just have to worry about casting further out. Completely change to top water and go find a nice quiet cove. Troll out deeper or closer to ledges or forage and see what you can entice. There are so many different reasons why fish do what they do and not even an expert has all the answers as to why you are not catching fish.
When most fishermen go out, it is to relax and unwind from a busy week at work. So, try to focus on that. Enjoy your unwinding time (or your vacation) and not focus so much on why they are not biting. Enjoy the water and the company, if someone comes along, and enjoy nature. Catching fish for a meal or two is just a bonus.