Even the most experienced anglers can occasionally struggle to get a bass to bite. While this can be a frustrating situation, there are quite a few things anglers can do to turn things around. For example, getting bass to bite could be as simple as altering the type of lure you use.
Anglers can do several things when the bass won’t bite. During the summer and fall seasons, they can fish when fish are plentiful. Anglers can also use spinnerbaits and crankbaits, aim for common hiding spots, and cast multiple lines and lures. Patience is also useful when getting the bass to bite.
In this article, we’ll reveal some helpful tips for getting bass to bite. From fishing at the right time of year to improving your casting technique, there are plenty of things you can do to increase your catch rate and encourage bass to bite.
Consider the Season
Before you start feeling frustrated with yourself over a lack of bites, you might want to consider the season. Bass, just like many other animals, tend to reproduce near the start of spring. Generally, bass fish will lay their eggs during the late winter, and the new bass fry will emerge during the first weeks of warm weather.
If you’re fishing in January, February, or March, you might enjoy an increased yield thanks to spawning habits. However, you might also seek a dramatic increase in the number of bass in your area for the same reason. To complicate matters further, some states and counties may pose fishing restrictions during the spawning season.
Consequently, it’s often better to go bass fishing in the late spring season through the fall. Otherwise, you might have tough luck hooking any bass, and those that you do catch may be too small to keep.
Of course, if you’re already fishing during the best times of the year, then timing might not be the culprit behind your lack of bites. Poor positioning along a lake or river can also make it challenging to get fish biting. Fortunately, this problem is one of the most straightforward issues to fix.
Change Fishing Spots
When you imagine a freshwater lake’s fish population, do you visualize the fish as floating around, perfectly calm? If so, you might want to rework your idea of freshwater aquatic environments.
Bass aren’t simply mulling around underwater, waiting for food to fly into their mouths. They’re active creatures that spend a large proportion of their time looking for food. However, they tend to keep to the reeds, weeds, and shadows when on the hunt.
If you’ve been casting and reeling for several hours, but you’ve not felt or seen any bites, the bass in the area may have sensed that there was something odd about your lures and moved along to another part of the stream.
Changing your fishing spots is the best way to maximize your bass catch rate. Of course, moving downstream or upstream is no guarantee of a bite, especially if you’re not using the right bass fishing lures. So, before you skedaddle to a new fishing hole, double-check your tackle box.
Choose a Different Lure
What kind of lures are you using to catch bass? If the answer is anything outside of spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and jerkbaits, you might be running into some problems.
It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the best bass fishing lures before hitting the water. Additionally, some lures and hooks might be overpowered or underpowered for the job.
Let’s say that you’re fishing for smallmouth bass. In this scenario, you’re standing on the bank of a fast-flowing river, one that has many rocky areas that may hide hungry bass. If you cast with a massive spinnerbait lure with a tri-point hook, the smallmouth in the area might be interested but unmoved to bite.
That’s because the lure you’re using might be too large for the smallmouth fish, even if it’s ideal for the largemouth species. Always consider your game fish’s size and diet before choosing your lures. You can set a simple hook quickly when fishing for small bass, but multi-point hooks can help you keep largemouth specimens on the line.
Bass (nearly all types) prefer to hunt from the shadows, and that’s another trend that may influence your lure selection. Spinnerbaits tend to be shiny and shimmering, a quality that helps bass spot them.
Additionally, many bass feed on smaller fish, like shiners. Spinnerbaits are extremely useful because they mimic the look of the bass’s natural prey.
Crankbaits move up and down through the water, much like a real prey fish would, and that’s why they’re also useful in catching bass. Of course, if you’d rather use live bait, you might end up getting a few more bites, primarily if the bait you use is sourced locally.
Use the Right Bait
This tip is somewhat contentious. Some anglers believe that using local live bait can decrease your catch rate, while others contend that it’s a smart move. Here’s the low-down.
When bass fishing, one of the primary goals is to entice bass to eat. These fish are naturally aggressive and generally hungry creatures. However, they’re not always ravenous and ready for their next meal. If you’re fishing during the afternoon, many of the bass that swim by your hook may be full of prey fish, insects, and crawfish.
Enticing these bass to give a little nibble on your hook can be challenging if you’re using live locally-sourced bait. That’s because the bass has likely already filled up on that local bait. In this instance, using a store-bought bait or a shimmering lure could be more effective.
However, if you’re fishing during the early morning or late evening hours, live bait could be the better option. Bass may be more likely to go after trustworthy local live baits during these periods, as their stomachs are empty and their hunger is high. Besides, purchasing live local bait is an excellent way to support local fishing communities.
If you’re fishing during the summer or fall, rotating your fishing spot, using effective bass fishing lures, and choosing your bait wisely, but you’re still struggling to get the bass to bite, it could be time to practice your casting.
Practice Your Casting
While patience is an essential aspect of bass fishing, there is something to be said for repetition and aggressive casting. Letting your line sink and remain still is one of the worst ways to attract bass, but casting too often and reeling your lure back in may scare away fish.
Frequently, we re-cast after we’ve done a poor job of the first cast. If you happen to mess up your first cast, you’ll likely want to reel your line back in immediately and try again. The consequences of this action are a coin-flip, either enticing nearby bass or terrifying them.
To help streamline the fishing process and remove any doubt from your technique, you might want to try practicing your casts before heading out to your favorite bass fishing spot. You can practice different casting techniques while fishing a nearby river, stream, or creek.
You’ll want to avoid using rigid, inflexible rods while you practice casting. The best fishing rods for bass fishing tend to be flexible, fast-action models with bendable tips and heavy grips. If you’re not casting with a bass fishing rod, you may struggle to get those long, smooth casts you desire.
Additionally, if you’re not casting in the direction of bass hiding spots, getting a bite might be challenging. Not sure where bass like to hangout? Now is the time to find out!
Aim for Bass Hiding Spots
Bass aren’t going to swim out into open, clear waters on a bright sunny day. Their preferred hiding spots tend to be along shaded areas, near rocky pools, and around weedy embankments. This helps give them the upper hand over unsuspecting prey fish.
If you’re not aiming for these classing bass hiding spots, you might find yourself struggling to get any bites. The next time you head out into the water, try casting your line near shaded areas or swirling rocky streams. You might be surprised at just how quickly you get a nibble or two.
Still, when you’re fishing in calm, relatively-still waters, it can be more challenging to entice nearby bass. Should you find yourself going bass fishing on a small lake, you may want to try manipulating your line to move your bait around in the water.
Move Your Bait
Anglers that cast their line only to let the bait sit might struggle to get fish interested. Even with the best spinnerbait or crankbait lure and fresh, live local bait, you could fail to catch any bass if you’re not actively moving your bait.
Notably, those fishing in larger saltwater environments (like an ocean shoreline) won’t need to remain as active or as in control of their line while fishing for sea bass. That’s because the ocean currents naturally pull and push against baited lures, helping them move in a natural fashion that attracts predatory fish.
But when you’re fishing on a calm lake or a gently rolling river, you’ll want to spend a little extra time and energy manipulating your line and lure. After all, if your lure sinks to the bottom and sits there, unmoving, the occasional fish may come and check out, but they might be suspicious of it.
By casting, waiting, and then reeling in via short bursts, anglers can better excite hungry bass that may be lurking in the area. A tasty prey fish that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere won’t excite a bass nearly as much as one that’s zipping by in a flash. Bass are opportunistic, and they’re reactionary.
You can use these behavioral traits to your advantage when bass fishing. It might also be worthwhile to cast multiple lines and lures to increase your bite odds and catch rate.
Cast Multiple Lines and Lures
One of the most reliable methods for increasing your bite rate is casting multiple lines and lures. While this can be tricky, especially if fishing alone, saturating the fishing hole with tons of options could be your ticket to bass fishing success.
There are two primary ways to try this technique. You could:
- Attach multiple lures to a single line, but stagger them along the line so they float at different levels throughout the water, or
- Use several rods and lines that feature a variety of lures and baits
Either method you choose is bound to deliver better results than casting a single line with a single lure. Of course, you could use a single line and lure if you have the help of a sonar device to locate fish.
Use a Sonar Device
Sometimes you just have to go that extra mile to lure in the bass. When this happens, there’s nothing to feel ashamed of. Many fishing spots are just a few feet of space along a massive, hundred-mile river system. Others might be a few square feet within hundreds of acres of water.
Fish aren’t evenly distributed, making it challenging to get bass to bites, mainly when fishing from large bodies of water. There may be several schools of young fish swimming around, hundreds of minnows, and quite a few solitary predators in the mix.
Because it’s often challenging to see far beneath a river or lake’s surface to spot fish, a sonar device could come in handy. There are several types and brands of handheld sonar fishing devices, and their accuracy and ability vary. Still, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to enjoy one of these helpful bass fishing tools.
The LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder is an affordable handheld sonar device that displays fish and depth icons on an easy-to-read LCD screen. If you’re struggling to find bass in your area, this nifty device can help you avoid empty spaces and cast your line in well-populated waters.
But the Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder might be the better option for those to enjoy a more advanced sonar approach. This device displays moving objects and underwater terrain, potentially helping anglers find leads on ideal bass hiding spots. Naturally, these tools could prove useless if you’re not also practicing patience during your fishing trips.
Finally, there’s patience. Though you might think that patience is a virtue (and it is), it’s also a skill that can be developed and improved. An angler without patience is like a physician without a medical education. You need patience to catch bass effectively, just as much as you need fishing gear.
To become a more patient angler, try identifying moments of frustration while fishing. Set a silent timer after you cast your line, and wait. How quickly are you beginning to feel your trigger itch? If it’s only a few minutes, you may want to change the way you fish. Anglers with little patience might benefit from fishing with a team or group.
Learning Patience With a Group
When you have a group of fellow anglers by your side, you can benefit from their company and knowledge. If you’re consistently sharing stories and snacks while you wait for a bass to bite, the time will seem to fly by.
Try joining a local bass fishing team or invite your friends and co-workers to go with you the next time you go fishing. You might be surprised at just how much knowledge one of these new fishing buddies has, and they might be able to help you improve your technique.
If you choose to go fishing with a few friends, you also get the opportunity to make new stories together. When you brag about the fish you’ve caught, your fishing pals can back you up. And it’s challenging to weigh and record your catches when you’re fishing alone.
Overall, having a few buddies with you can make bass fishing a delightful experience. Still, this option may not be available to everyone, especially those living in remote areas.
Increasing Your Wait Times
In this case, you can practice patience when angling by increasing your wait time each time you head out into the water. Using a timer, you can challenge yourself to wait one extra minute before reeling-in, increasing your wait time with each fishing trip.
If you can’t help but reel in your line and re-cast after five minutes of waiting, in a month, you might be able to wait a full ten minutes. This kind of patience is crucial to winning the trust of hungry bass and encouraging them to bite. So long as you continue to manipulate your lure and bait, it should only be a matter of time before you get a bite!
There are quite a few reasons why bass might not be nibbling at your bait. If you’re fishing during the winter or early spring, bass might be busy spawning. If you’re fishing in sunny, clear waters, the fish you seek could be just out of sight, hiding in murkier areas.
By using tried-and-true bass lures, a combination of various baits, and informed casts, you can increase your chances at hooking a prize-winning bass. Moving your bait around in the water as you wait can help, as can a handheld sonar device. Still, patience is crucial to getting bass to bite.
- Amazon: Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer
- Amazon: LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder
- Bass Resource: Seasonal Habits of the Largemouth Bass
- Best Bass Fishing Lures: Best Bass Lures
- Fix: Fishing 101: Locating Bass All Season Long in Unfamiliar Lakes
- On The Water: How To Fish A Jerkbait
- Reel Game | Great Lakes Development Group: What Is A Crankbait?
- RustyAngler: Bass Casting Techniques
- Take Me Fishing: Catching Black Sea Bass
- Wikipedia: Spinnerbait