Sometimes fish can get downright uncooperative. It happens to all of us sometimes, no matter how good you think you are. Maybe you were catching bass like crazy, then the action just stopped. Moving to new places hasn’t helped. So, do you just pack up and head for Krystal’s, Checker’s, or Taco Bell? Don’t give up so fast. Sometimes fish are not saying, “No”, as much as they mean, “Not right now…”. So how do we put them back in the mood?
I’ve been fishing for a long, long time, and have learned several tricks to make fish change their minds about biting. Some I learned from Old-Timers (of which I am now a proud member…), and some I came up with myself. That is not to say they haven’t been done before. Brilliant minds think alike, and I am sure many of these were developed independently.
Anyway, these tricks can turn a bust into a bonanza. They are simple and take advantage of the fishes natural tendencies and instincts. They require little to no special equipment. Mostly, you are simply changing the way your lure or bait is presented. Some require the use of more than one rod at a time, so be sure and check to see if they are legal in your area before trying them out.
The Skipjack Routine
Many times, a baitfish will jump from the water to escape a predator, show off to a female member of their species, try to rid itself of skin parasites, attack something on the surface or just above it, or maybe just because it was feeling a little extra-frisky. Whatever the reason, it sends a ton of low-frequency sound through the water for quite a distance and attracts predators from all around. Personally, I think those vibrations are like the fish version of the, “One-Finger Salute”, so popular among drivers in heavy traffic. However the predators interpret it, it can drive them into a murderous frenzy. You can easily imitate this behavior with your rod and the right lure.
You need a floating lure that has no action on its own, like a stick-bait. Zara Spook and similar, “Walking The Dog” type lures are perfect for this. You need something that has no lip, or propellors on it. They will just create drag and keep the lure from ‘hopping’ out of the water. Crankbaits will just dive, and lures with a cupped front face will just splash harder.
Next, you need a long rod, at least 7 feet long, with fast action. Graphite rods are perfect for this.
To execute this action, cast your lure out and let it sit for at least 30 seconds, or until all the ripples dissipate. You can retrieve it a short distance, then sharply ‘pop’ your rod tip up with a tight line to make the lure jump from the water a short distance. It takes a little practice to get it just right. You don’t want it to jump more than a few inches from the water, so it will appear natural. You want it to hop about 4-8 inches high, and cover about 1 foot or less distance. Allow the lure to sit after the jump until all the ripples are gone. Be ready for vicious strikes while the lure is setting.
The Punk Trick
For a predator fish, getting something to eat is very competitive. Survival can sometimes come down to who gets there first. And nothing enrages a predator more than the thought of a smaller fish getting to a meal first. This trick takes full advantage of this.
You need two rods for this. One rigged for fishing with a minnow and a bobber, and the other rigged for casting a lure. Be sure to check the laws where you are fishing because some places only allow fishing with one rod at a time.
Rig your minnow with a Grouper-style rig, with the minnow suspended under a sinker, and with a bobber. Cast it to a likely spot, then place your rod in a rod holder, but keep an eye on the bobber. It’s not uncommon to catch fish on the minnow and the lure simultaneously, which means you get real busy, real quick. When the minnow rig is set in the holder, pick up your other rod and rig it with a larger lure, such as a crankbait or swimbait. Cast it out past the minnow. Reel the lure in as close to the minnow as you can without snagging it. When you get past the minnow, reel in, recast and repeat.
To other fish, it appears that a smaller fish is attacking your minnow. The temptation to take advantage of this situation is irresistible, and many times, you will get hits on both the lure and the minnow.
The Bait And Switch Trick
Many times, you will see ads for great prices on things, only to find out when you get to the store, they are, “out of stock” on that item. The salesperson will then proceed to try to sell you a more expensive model of the item in question. This is known as Bait-And-Switch in the sales world and is illegal in a lot of states, but it is still done regularly. You can pull this same trick on fish.
You need a large glass jar with a good-fitting lid, about 20 feet or so of 550 paracord, and a few minnows. Just drill a few small holes in the top of the jar for water to circulate, add some lake water and 6-12 minnows. Drill one more hole in the center of the lid, large enough to just pass the paracord through. Run the paracord through the hole and tie a jam knot in the end, on the inside face. Screw the lid on the jar tightly and check to be sure the knot and lid will hold the weight of the water and jar.
Now, just lower the jar into the water and let it down a few feet. Tie it off, and fish close to it. The fish see what appears to be a tightly-packed school of baitfish just waiting to be attacked. They can also hear and smell them. Of course, they can’t get to them, which aggravates them enough to where they will take out their frustrations on your hooked minnow. This trick is especially effective at night when you are fishing under a light.
This one is really cool, and a lot of fun to fish. You only need one rod, a soft-plastic crawfish creature, at least a ¼ oz. worm-weight, and a floating-diving lure of your choice.
When crawfish are threatened, two things happen. First, they raise their claws in a threat posture, and next, they flip their tails for a fast, but short-lived burst of speed to the rear in an attempt to escape. This trick mimics that situation perfectly.
Thread your line through a ¼ oz. or larger worm-weight and tie on a hook. Rig the crawfish Texas-Style. Remember, it’s a crawfish, so the tail should be pointing towards you, and the claws towards the rear. Next, with a separate piece of fishing line, tie on an 18” leader to the hook eye, and tie on a floating diving lure to the other end. Make sure your worm-weight is heavy enough to pull down the lure.
To use this rig, just cast it out and let the weight pull the whole thing to the bottom. The crawfish will lay on the bottom while the floating diving lure hovers just above and in front of it as if preparing for an attack. Sharply twitch the rod tip every 30 seconds or so…whatever feels right to you. This makes the crawfish jump backward, while at the same time causing the floating-diving lure to dive at it. This very closely imitates what an attack on a crawfish really looks like, and any nearby predator will not be able to resist the chance to get two meals with one attack. It will grab the fish, and have the crawfish for dessert.
These are just a few of the many tricks you can use when fishing slows down.