Tactics When the Fish are Skittish
We’ve all had those days. You know the days when the fish just don’t bite. It’s beautiful weather, you have waited all week to hit the water and start feeling the tug of those big Redfish, Specs or Flounder and nothing. They have lockjaw.
When this happens, it’s time to change your way of thinking and then your approach. First, practice patience. That means waiting 3o minutes before you change fishing locations. Don’t just pull the anchor and run from honey hole to hole or chasing other anglers that appear to be catching. Many times the fish are still there, but they’re just not responding to your bait or presentation. Since fish face into the current, this could mean that you’re casting from the wrong direction and therefore pulling your lure always from the fish. The solution is to change the side of the spot you’re cast towards. Think about the tide and which way it’s running.
Next go into stealth mode. Once you locate fish, whether they ignore your lure or spook and evacuated the area, it’s imperative to stay calm, and not announce your presence. It’s not uncommon for a school of fish, like the Redfish and Specs to move several hundred yards only to turn around and swing past your boat a few minutes later. Many times there may be more than one school working an area. Other times there are small packs or a number of singles feeding or just hanging out, waiting until the right tide phase allows them to reach their preferred hangouts. Also be aware of the boat and fishing traffic around you. Remember, your boat is not the only one that makes noise. Jet skiers a ½ mile away or noisy kids playing on a nearby dock can result in the “vacancy” coming on. Anglers who consistently catch fish in easy-to-find places do it by moving slowly and quietly. They either drift, use a push pole, then using a Power-Pole or stakeout pin to stop the boat in range of the target spot while waiting for fish to work into range of his cast.
Last, move away for your favorite lures. Change it up. This means starting with the color. It could be that the water bottom is cloudy due to a number of reasons and that “go to” lure may be seen as well as it should be. Change to a lighter color and see what happens. Using a lure with a good amount of flash can also turn things around. This could mean switching from a plastic or live bait to a spinner bait that creates a commotion. You may also want to try a spoon that can catch the eye of the fish as it comes by.
Practices these easy tips won’t make every day of fishing a great day, but it will limit the bad days. It’s about having a backup plan and executing it that will be the difference between a guy fishing and a skilled angler.