You’ve seen those days when nothing you try would work. Every fisherman has and will experience those days. I’ve compiled a short list of pointers to help reduce the number of slow or no bite days. Granted, I know you could add to this generalized list, no doubt; I’m just trying to introduce some ideas for you to try that may have slipped your thought.
Fishing too Fast
Sometimes I get carried away trying to cover too much water too quickly. I fly by spots that it takes time to work them slowly and thoroughly. Fish are opportunistic feeders; they will eat bait that’s presented to them when they’re actively feeding at any reasonable speed. When fish get sluggish you have to slow the presentation. I’ve seen times when you have to hold that bait by a stump for over a minute to trigger a strike. Take your time and work an area thoroughly before you decide to move on.
Match the Hatch
Too often I’ve tried to make the fish hit what I wanted them to hit and not what the fish wanted. In other words, I was trying to give them plastics when they wanted live bait or vice-versa. I’ve seen times when I was fishing with lures or minnows twice as big as the bait fish. Not a single bite until I resized my bait. Be observant, look at the baitfish around you. If the shad are 1” to 1.5” for heaven’s sake don’t expect the fish to hit a 2.5” bait.
Try Different Angles
I’m a long-line troller, it’s my favorite technique above all other crappie fishing methods. I’ve discovered by accident that sometimes fish will only hit a lure going in a certain direction. Just because you trolled through an area in one direction and didn’t get a bite, don’t hesitate to turn around and go in the opposite direction. Current has a major effect on how fish tend to position themselves. If baitfish are being pulled out of a creek then you should present your bait the same direction as you think the baitfish are traveling. Crappie are ledge and brush pile oriented fish, they may not see baitfish coming at them in the direction you’re trolling. Give a spot the benefit of the doubt by coming at it from multiple directions before giving up and moving.
Try another Spot
There is no set time limit to stay on a potential spot. If I’m tournament fishing my game plan is usually 30-45 minutes without a bite and move. I have friends that move within 10-15 minutes even if they’ve caught fish. They’re after the most aggressive fish on that particular spot and off to the next spot. We call that running and gunning. If you know the spot you’re fishing has fish and they’re not actively biting, don’t hesitate to leave and return later. I’ve hit spots several times during the day before they turned on in that spot.
Check the Weather
You should always check the weather conditions before and during your fishing trip. Cell phones with weather apps make it too easy to stay on top of barometric changes caused by approaching fronts. It’s a known fact that a fish’s feeding pattern is affected by changes in the weather. Be willing to make your presentation changes based upon the weather changes.
Stop Second Guessing Your Game Plan
If you have a strategy for a particular trip, by all means stick to it long enough to make it work before you decide to change. Stay focused on what you know worked previously and it will work. When you’ve given your strategy sufficient time, it’s nothing wrong with making
adjustments or abandoning it entirely. Pay attention, if you see birds feeding or shad popping the surface, don’t keep fishing deep.
Watch Your Electronics
Fishermen of today have no reason whatsoever to not learn to use their electronics. If you want to be successful on any day you must at least learn the basic features of your electronics. There are tons of You-Tube videos produced by the brand manufacturer, fishing pros, and amateurs. These videos are excellent training tools.
Downsize your setup
If I’m not catching fish for a long period, I change my setup. I’ll go from 8# line to 6#, I’ll go to a smaller minnow or a smaller jig.
Speedup or Slow down
I uncovered this by accident. I’ve been fishing an area with little to no luck or very little luck, I accidentally hit the rabbit button on my remote and my trolling speed increase from 1 mph to 1.8 mph. Before I could return to my normal trolling speed I noticed 3 or 4 poles with fish on. Wow, that’s what the fish wanted a fast moving bait. Same thing in reverse, I’ve cut the propeller off by mistake and it caused my baits to stop and fall, bam! multiple fish on.
I use a trolling method called Wildcat Trolling where I make a series of sharp turns while trolling along an area. I turn hard to the left and then back to the right sometimes I will speed up or slow down at the end. I’ve seen multiple strikes come after completing this technique. I coined the term Wildcat after the football formation.
Use longer poles
I’ve learned that using longer poles with increase your catch ratio nearly all of the time. B’n’M in my opinion, makes the most sensitive, durable, all-around poles on the market. I’ve used the 16’ BGJP and the 18’ Pro Staff Trolling poles on slow days with excellent results compared to others using shorter poles. With the new B’n’M Pro Staff reels, they make it easy to pull line out far enough to bring the fish into the net.
Every avid fisherman could add to this list of slow day tips. This list is intended to give you a starting point of things to try. The more you fish the more you learn. Pay attention to the details when fishing; learn to read Mother Nature’s signs. All of these in combination should and will increase your catch ratio on slow days.
Bernard, Magnolia Crappie Club