We’ve all been there. Some days the bait barely hits the surface before fish take it. Other days … not so much. I experienced it firsthand recently with Ronnie Green of the Discovery Channel’s A Fishing Story. Out on Ronnie’s boat in Tampa Bay in the shadow of the Howard Frankland Bridge. With perfect conditions and in Ronnie’s local fishing hole, we thought our preparations were just right. Armed with his expert knowledge of his home waters, we were all confident we’d have a big day.
Well, as it sometimes goes with fishing, our plans didn’t work out so well. We knew the fish were down there by watching our fishing camera and fish finder, but it was a high pressure day and we only managed to get one bite. Yeah, I know ... next I’m supposed to say “a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work!” like some sort of 1980s T-shirt ... but we all know that’s just what we say to make ourselves feel better about a slow day. We wanted to catch something!
So we put together this guide of the best tips and tricks to turn around a slow day:
- Change out your lure. If the fish aren’t biting, give them something different to bite. If you’re using a fast-moving lure, try something slower. If your lure is small, try something a bit bigger. Or change it up entirely and try some bait.
- Alter your casting technique. The overhead cast is a classic for a reason, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the right technique. A sidearm cast is just as versatile and produces less splash upon entry, making it preferable in many situations. If you’re fishing near vegetation, pitching might do the trick, or try flipping or skipping when you need to get your lure into even tighter spaces.
- Switch up your retrieves. The counterpart to your cast is your retrieve. On a slow day, vary it until you find the right fit. Try slow, fast, high, low. Start with a classic straight lure retrieve, and then try a jig, hop, jerk, twitch, grind, scoot or sweep. On a really tough day, you might need all of the above!
- Use a fishing camera. See where the fish are and how they’re behaving with the help of technology like GoFish Cam. Just cast, then reel in, and gain an unprecedented look at all the underwater action. You can also use GoFish Cam's Float Accessory, and your camera will turn into a bobber that enables you to live-stream the underwater action right on your smartphone with a top-down view.
- Move to a new location. If you’ve been fishing the same spot for a while with no luck, it’s time to move on. Consider the season, weather, water temperature, and underwater structures and vegetation when choosing your fishing spot.
- Try a fishing light. Underwater fishing LED lights — especially green or white — attract minnows, shiners, shrimp and more. This, in turn, attracts the fish you actually want to catch. GoFish Cam features a green LED to help capture footage in low-light situations. Try using it to attract bait when you’re struggling to catch the big one.
- Fire up your fish finder. Get a glimpse of what’s under your boat with a fish finder. Use it to locate schools of bait fish, underwater terrain where your target species like to hide and maybe even the fish you hope to catch.
- Use a different line. A brightly colored or braided fishing line can be visible in clear water, so save those for when you’re fishing in murky, muddy spots or in areas of dense cover. Instead, go for a clear fluorocarbon line in clear water or a green monofilament in bodies of water with a green tint.
- Check the fishing reports. Your fellow anglers are a great resource when it comes to finding fishing hot spots. Since fishing conditions change frequently, it’s best to review reports from the last few days to identify patterns.
- Chum the water. Chumming is more popular in saltwater fishing, but it can work in freshwater situations as well. It may not be pretty, but this smelly substance will attract fish. (Chumming is restricted in some areas, so check the laws in your area before trying this out.)