A sudden change of conditions, wrong bait, wrong time, and incorrect water could all be why bass are not biting. Trying different methods, retrieval speeds, and water is essential when not getting any bites. Eventually, bass will feed, but it takes patience to figure out what they want.
If you’re anything like me, this sounds familiar: You’ve packed the car, hooked up the boat, driven to the lake, launched the boat, driven to your favorite spot, cast a line, and nothing happens. You make cast after cast and don’t get so much as a nibble. This is one of the most defeating feelings in largemouth bass fishing.
Change of Conditions
One of the main reasons largemouth bass aren’t feeding is a recent change in conditions. The changes could be anything from the weather and water levels to spawning.
Growing up in the Midwest, I often experienced quick weather changes while on the water. One minute, it’d be 85 degrees and sunny, then it would change to 70 and storming.
As soon as the weather pressure changed, largemouth behavior would change. Sometimes, they’d go into a feeding frenzy; other times, they’d move to heavy cover.
After heavy rain, water levels rise, and the waters muddy, so catching bass can become a challenge. Plus, finding the bass is tough when water conditions change. Their usual hiding places are deeper than expected, so I’d often wander the lake searching for better cover and structure after the storm.
I’d get extremely frustrated when this happened because I thought I could continue to land fish despite the changes.
What To Do When Conditions Change
When conditions change, anglers must do a few things to catch largemouth bass. There’s no need to give up and go home. Fish will continue to eat; you just have to find what they want.
Fish Cover and Structure
The first thing to look for when conditions change is cover and structure. During those changes, largies are on edge and want to feel as safe as possible. As a result, they’ll head into log piles, rocks, or heavy vegetation until they feel more comfortable.
Fish with jigs and soft plastics. Flip into the thick vegetation and rock piles and take your time.
Don’t fish like you’re in a hurry. Let the jigs and plastics fall in the water column and work their way around the cover and structure.
The change in conditions causes the bass to become more anxious and skeptical. You can frighten the bass if you aren’t methodical in your movements.
Fishing the Wrong Water
Another reason bass may not be biting is because you’re fishing the wrong water. Fishing the wrong water was my problem for my first few years of largemouth bass fishing.
Plus, I never knew where the bass were holding. The lousy water I was fishing lacked cover or had stagnant water with minimal oxygenation.
Move to a new spot if you’ve been fishing in a particular area for around a half hour without any bites. Don’t commit to a location just because it looks like a good choice. Only stay in a spot if you know fish are there.
Anglers who are fishing new water may find themselves taking more time searching than fishing. But as soon as you learn about a body of water, you’ll learn about a few spots that consistently hold fish.
Best Water to Fish
Bass live in various areas of the water. Depending on the weather and water conditions, bass will inhabit several places.
Vegetation and Drop-Offs
Some of the best water to fish has vegetation and a change in depth. Bass will sit in the vegetation and check the drop-off for food sources. Changes in depth often mean food will be nearby.
Bass can quickly move up or down the water column depending on water and air temperatures.
Submerged Logs and Rocks
Since largemouth bass are ambush predators, they want to stay undercover while hunting. They don’t often venture out into open water when hunting. Largemouths will wait for a crustacean or smaller fish to swim by before they pounce.
Bass can tuck into tight areas, so don’t assume the cover is too small to hold a bass.
Fishing During the Wrong Time of Day
One of the angler’s most significant mistakes is fishing at the wrong time. Consistently fishing at noon during the heat of the day isn’t going to produce as many fish. You’ll have to be strategic about when you fish if you want the best access to largemouth bass.
Best Time of Day to Fish for Bass
Sunrise and sunset are the most productive times for fishing. The water and air temperatures are cooler, so bass are more willing to be active. Plus, baitfish are more active during the mornings and evenings, making it a natural time to feed.
In the mornings and evenings, bass are more willing to feed on the surface because they can use the low light to their advantage.
Using the Wrong Tempo
Bass are picky. If I found the bass, it didn’t matter what bait I used. Even using the proper bait, I might have been fishing too slowly.
My one-speed retrieve caused me to miss out on dozens of fish. A bass’s temperament can change daily, so being willing to retrieve at different speeds is essential.
Best Tempo to Use
There isn’t one single retrieval method for bass. During prime feeding hours, I like to retrieve more aggressively. I’ll cast my bait and reel hard, and the fast retrieval will aggravate fish hungry in the area.
If largemouth bass aren’t biting, I’ll slow everything down. I’ll let my bait sit longer, retrieve it slower, and give more time between my reels. This simple fix will tell me if the fish want more of a finesse style rather than actual aggression.
Using the Wrong Bait
When I first started bass fishing, I consistently used the wrong bait. I thought the bass weren’t biting, but I was actually doing the wrong thing. I’d use soft plastics when I should have been using spinnerbaits.
I didn’t know what to use, and my lack of success became highly frustrating. Many anglers face this struggle when fishing for largemouth bass. Luckily, a simple bait change can make all the difference in the world.
Best Baits to Use
Crankbaits, jigs, soft plastics, spinnerbaits, and topwater lures are some of the most common largemouth bass baits.
I will use a crankbait if I want to cover a lot of water, and I always ensure the water I’m fishing is 10 to 20 feet deep and has wood or rocks. Crankbaits don’t do well in weeds or grasses, and these baits are great search patterns if I’m unsure of what they want.
These are the first things I try when I’m fishing heavy cover. Areas with vegetation, trees, or rocks often hold fish, and jigs are the best ways to fish them. Fighting fish out of these areas can be tricky, but it’s always fun.
Soft plastics are an excellent jack-of-all-trades lure. Whether you’re fishing cover or open water, they work. Use a soft-plastic worm, Carolina Rigged, or Texas Rigged if you aren’t sure what to do. I will use these if I’m exploring new water, as they give me a good idea of what the fish want.
Spinnerbaits are known to be reaction baits. In dirty water, they work well because they make noise and move a decent amount of water. You can fish them in clear water along a weed line to see if any largemouths will dart out and grab it.
When the fish are in an aggressive mood, spinnerbaits are ideal.
Low light and calm water make for perfect topwater conditions. I love to fish these in the mornings and evenings near vegetation when largemouth bass will leave their protection to chase after topwater. Often, they’ll jump out of the water as they’re hunting.
Largemouth bass are temperamental fish that rarely do what we think they will. Even when we think we’re doing everything right, the bass may still not bite. As a result, we have to be willing to adjust.
We have to move areas, switch baits, switch our retrieval methods, and maybe try again at another time. The willingness to learn from mistakes and past experiences will make anglers more successful.