Ok so imagine you are out fishing and feel like you have thrown every bait in your boat or bag and you cannot even get a nibble. We have all experienced days like this and you can either pack up and go home or attempt to buy a bite from utilizing one of the two extreme approaches in fishing. So what kind of fishermen are you? Do you dig into your tackle and find the smallest bait you can find and then fish extremely slow and then slow down some more? You may perhaps throw a Ned rig, Neko rig, or a dropshot if you decide to fish on the finesse side of the spectrum, which is an Aaron Martens type of approach. The other choice is to dig out a spinnerbait, a crankbait, swimbait, or some other type of fast-moving bait where you are trying to trigger a reaction strike, which is a Kevin VanDam type of approach. There is no right or wrong approach here and your day could turn around using either one of those scenarios. Also what worked one day for you in the past during an extremely tough day may not be the answer on a different day. So how do YOU break it down? Here is my approach.
I tend to start with the Aaron Martens style of fishing. I will get into my tackle and locate my three best finesse baits. I usually start with a ned rig and I will try at least two of my small confidence baits for 10-15 minutes each. If this is unproductive, I will then try either a drop shot or a neko rig depending on the depth I am fishing. I give each bait at least 10-15 minutes to assess if any could be productive. How do I know if any of the baits I chose will increase my chances of landing a fish or which technique is going to work best? If I get a fish or even get bites, then I will continue with that bait and that rig for a little bit and then reassess. If I start getting nips from bluegill, then I will also give it longer (shhhh, this is a “trick“ I’ve learned)! I’ve had many days where I made a choice on my bait because of the behavior of bluegill. If they are nipping (tap tap tap is what you usually feel) or grabbing it like they stole something and speeding away, then more often than not, eventually the bass will take the same bait. In this situation, I feel like the puzzle has another piece and I will be patient with that bait. If I’ve gone through all of this and I still do not have any bites or fish, then I will try to get a reaction strike.
When I make that decision, I am usually going to grab a couple of different crank baits that I have confidence in and also either a spinnerbait or chatterbait depending on the water clarity. If it is muddy then I will go with a chatter bait and if it is a little murky to clear then I will go with a spinner bait. However, I do prefer a crank bait because of the versatility with colors, action, and depth. I will burn them and try to get them to bounce off of wood, rocks, or any other type of structure. Hopefully by this time I will find another piece to the puzzle. If I still cannot get a bite or a fish after trying a multitude of reaction baits, then I will refer back to finesse fishing with another few of my favorite small baits/ jigs.
Sometimes repeating this process will help to turn the day around. On the other hand, there are definitely days where it seems like the fish have moved to a different county hahaha! The more you fish then the more you will experience days like this. However, do not let it get into your head because we ALL have been there! When Mother Nature flat out turns off that switch, those fish are extremely obedient! So just try to make a mental note of the things you’ve tried with the conditions of that day. It may help you too figure things out faster in the future if things did not work out. Then the next time you have a day like this, you can try some of the other baits too. I have found that sometimes throwing a bait the fish may not have seen before can sometimes help, especially if you are on a really pressured body of water. No matter what, at least to be thankful that you had the ability to enjoy the day outside. Fishermen are the eternal optimists. You will head home knowing you are going to slay them the next time you are out! Hahaha! Tight lines and Bends and Beasts baby!
BassingGal Barbara “The Stinger”