By William D. Anderson

When the Fishing Gets Tough

By William D. Anderson

When the fishing gets tough�..

�..what are you supposed to do? There are several ways to answer that question. In order to answer that question you need to take a look around and determine why the fishing is tough. There are a million reasons and figuring out which one applies to you is no easy task, but I have some suggestions.

First, you need to figure out if the fish are still there. You can do this by looking at your electronics. If you don�t see any fish, it�s a no-brainer. They�ve moved elsewhere. But what do you do if you don�t have the benefit of a fancy fish locator? Try down sizing your presentation. Small jigs, spinners, or tiny crank baits will tell you if you have fish in the area. Fish them fast but not too fast and you should get bit. The trick is to use the smallest bait you have. If you don�t get hit, it�s time to move. Live bait is your other alternative.

If you see fish on your locator, you�ve got another issue to deal with. Why did the fish stop hitting? Are they spooked? Did they get wise to your lure? Did they get wise to the retrieve? More than once I�ve seen fish stop biting like someone turned off the light switch. Tossing a different color or different lure did the trick. Other times I�ve seen the fish not hit a different offering, but when the retrieve was changed drastically, the action was back on.

One thing I will try when I know there are fish in the area and they aren�t interested in my offerings, is to use a completely different type of lure. I might switch from plastics to cranks, or visa versa. I might also switch to a lure that makes a lot more commotion (or a lot less). You have to be careful of is trying to make too much commotion otherwise you�ll spook them and shut them off completely.

There will be times when the fish will just stop biting and nothing will get them to hit a lure. In that case you need to annoy them to the point of striking. This means running a lure right into them. In stained water this means covering every inch of territory. Cast more than a few inches away from your last cast and you might miss the fish. You won�t cover a lot of water this way but you�ll get one or two fish.

When I need to annoy fish, I�ll use lures small enough that I know the fish can inhale. When they�re striking out of anger, they�re not trying to eat a lure which means they�ll be very likely to spit it out right away. A larger lure might not make the right kind of contact so that when you feel the hit and set the hook, you miss the fish. A smaller lure might just catch enough so that you hook up without setting the hook.

If the fish are spooked, you�re better off leaving the area for a while. Come back in an hour and the fish will have forgotten about you. I�ve moved in on bass chasing minnows more times than I can count. Eventually they get spooked. Back off far enough and you�ll see that they�ll start chasing minnows again. When that happens, it�s time to catch a few more.

I can remember one time when my son and his friends were catching bluegill after bluegill until the bite just stopped. They went from getting bit right away to nothing at all. I re-rigged my son�s pole with a whole night-crawler and he caught the biggest bass of his life so far. That fish had moved in on the gills and sent them running for cover. A short time after we released the bass, the gills were biting again like crazy. That just goes to show you can be sure why the fish aren�t biting until you try a few things.

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