Not Catching Bass? 12 Reasons Why Bass Aren’t Biting

Let me know if this sounds familiar to you – you’re out on a local lake or pond and have been fishing for a couple of hours, but the bass aren’t biting and are nowhere to be found. After fishing for awhile without any luck, you start to ask yourself the question: ‘why am I not catching any bass?’

We’ve all been there. This happens to every angler at some point regardless of their skill level. In this post I’ll share with you the main reasons why you aren’t catching bass and some tips and strategies that will improve your overall fishing success.  

12 Reasons Why You’re Not Catching Bass

Here is a list of the top reasons why you aren’t catching any bass and what you can do to turn your fishing trip around and catch more fish.

(If you are fishing in tough conditions (bad weather, highly pressured fish) make sure to check out this article as well: How Do You Catch Bass When They Aren’t Biting? for some helpful insights on catching bass when it’s tough.

Let’s get started.

1. You’re Fishing Unproductive Areas

Spending too much time fishing unproductive waters is a common mistake most all anglers make. There is a saying in fishing that goes something like: 90% of the bass are in 10% of the water. Don’t waste time fishing bad water.

If you aren’t having any success, then most likely you are fishing in the wrong area or at the wrong depth. If possible, move around and cover as much water as you can until you get bit.

Once you find them then you can slow down and pick a part the good stuff, instead of wasting time in areas that may not be holding fish.

The most time I’d recommend fishing in a particular area without any bites is 30 minutes or so. After that I’d be moving around and looking for new areas to fish.

Make sure to check out My Recommended Bass Fishing Gear and Tackle Guide to ensure you have the right gear for your next fishing adventure.

2. You’re Using the Wrong Bait

If you’ve been fishing in good areas for a while and haven’t caught any bass the odds are you need to switch to a different lure or bait.

Weather, light penetration, bass forage and season patterns can all play a huge factor in determining what the bass may be keying in on. If you haven’t had any luck you are probably throwing something that they simply aren’t interested in.

One of the most common mistakes I see anglers make (and this is one that I have made myself many times) is that we stick with the same bait or lure for far too long. Don’t make this mistake.

If it’s been over 30 minutes and you haven’t seen anything that would suggest you’re throwing the right thing, it’s time for a bait change.

Don’t be afraid to mix it up until you can find something that the bass will respond to.  

3. You’re Fishing with The Wrong Bait Size (Too Big or Small)

If you are struggling to find and catch bass, don’t overlook your bait and lure profile. Size can play a huge role in determining your overall fishing success.

Using an oversized bait for your lake or pond can dramatically decrease your chances of catching bass. It is true that bigger baits catch bigger bass, but if you’re not having any luck downsizing can result in a lot more strikes. Smaller lures and baits will help you catch a lot more fish.

On the other hand, if you’re catching a lot of small ones and want to target bigger bass, don’t be afraid to size up your lures and baits. This will help keep away the smaller ones and make your offering is more appealing for the bigger bass.

Matching the hatch is also extremely important to keep in mind. If the bass are targeting smaller bait fish, use baits that closely imitate what they are feeding on and vice versa. This can dramatically increase your odds at catching more fish.

4. You’re Fish with the Wrong Colors

Color can be a big factor when it comes to catching bass. It might seem like a minor thing but fishing with the right or wrong color can make all the difference in the world.

If you aren’t getting bit on green pumpkin, try black and blue if that doesn’t work try a brown or craw color and so on and so forth. Your color selection can make a huge difference.

Here are some bass fishing color selection resources to ensure you choose the right color for your fishing situation.

5. You’re Fishing at The Wrong Time

If still aren’t catching any bass, then you may just be fishing at the wrong time of day. I am a firm believer that with a little patience and dedication you can catch bass anytime day or night.

However, there is no denying that during certain times and weather conditions the fishing is much better.  

In general, the best time to go bass fishing is in low light hours (morning, evening and overcast conditions). For more information on bass fishing times check out this in-depth article: When are the Best Times to Fish for Bass?

Fishing during the “primetime” hours will give you the best chance at catching a bunch of fish especially during the summertime months.

If are your still having a hard time locating where the bass are check out this video by Fish the Moment: Pro Tip for Finding Bass On Any Lake

6. Fishing at the Wrong Speed

If you are still wondering why you can’t catch bass check your cadence and retrieval speed. The way you work your bait and lure and how fast your retrieval is can play a huge role in your fishing success.  

Fishing too fast can make it hard for the bass to track down your lure or they may just be too lethargic to want to chase and expend the necessary energy.

On the other hand, fishing too slow won’t allow you to cover a lot of water and may give the bass too good a look at your bait resulting in less strikes.

Always mix up your retrieval speed and add a few pauses or jerks. Often times this is what will trigger a bass into striking.

Here are a few tips on when to slow down or speed up your retrieval.  

Slow Down – When fish are extra finicky and sluggish, slowing down your retrieval speed is a great way to catch more fish. This is especially true during the summer and winter months when the bass tend to be more lethargic.

Speed Up – When the water temperatures are high and the fish are actively chasing fishing fast is the way to go. This will allow you to cover a lot of water and trigger a reactive response from these more aggressive fish.

7. Water Temperature

It’s no secret that water temperature can play big role in determining how active the bass will be. Bass are cold blooded, meaning they take on the temperature of their surroundings. 

Because of this their activity level, when they eat, and how aggressive they are will depend on what the water temperature.

If the fish aren’t biting it may just be too cold or too hot for the for the bass you are targeting. Or you may just need to slow down your presentation and cast directly on them so that it doesn’t take a lot of energy for them to grab your lure.

8. You’re Fishing During a Cold Front

Weather is always a wild card when it comes to fishing and a cold front can be an angler’s worst nightmare. Fishing can get really tough during certain cold fronts.  

A cold front is a basically a transition zone where cold air is replacing warmer air resulting in significant temperature changes. This temperature drop usually has a large negative impact on bass fishing.

Bass tend do shutdown during these periods and become tough to catch. The fishing definitely gets harder, but it’s not impossible to catch fish by any means.

In these situations, try using smaller lures, fish deeper and tight to cover and slow down your overall retrieval. These will help you catch more fish even when faced with a cold front.

9. You’re Too Loud

Another reason why you might not be experiencing bass fishing success is that you are being too loud. The moment a bass can sense or hear you coming the harder it’s going to be to trick them into biting.

Often times anglers can miss out on some great bass fishing opportunities because they were too loud. This could be walking up to the bank to fast, being loud with your boat or making a big splash with your lure.  

Bass can feel movement, vibration and noises and even the slightest sound might spook them away. It’s best to be as quite as possible. Try and sneak up to your next fishing spot and don’t be surprised if you end up catching more bass.

10. You’re Not at the Right Water Depth

Another big reason why you aren’t catching any bass is that you are fishing at the wrong depths. Bass tend to prefer different depths depending on the time of day, season and weather patterns.

For example, most bass can usually be found in shallow water in the backs of coves and flats throughout the spring and fall months. But when it gets cold or too hot in the summer they will head deeper and to the main lake.

Understanding and knowing where the bass will be during certain times of the year can give you a huge advantage.

If you aren’t sure at what depth they are holding at move around until you can catch a few fish. If you’re not happy with the results, try fishing deeper or shallower until you can get a nice pattern going. This will help you catch a ton more fish.

11. The Thermocline Affect

Not able to catch any bass in the summer? The thermocline might be the reason. The thermocline is basically a dead zone with where bass can’t live due to low oxygen levels.

If you are fishing below the thermocline you are definitely not going to catch any bass. That’s why it’s so important to be able to find and understand where the thermocline is and how to fish around it.

Here is some more information about understanding and finding the thermocline: How to find the Thermocline

12.You’re Fishing at the Wrong Place

Let’s be honest not all bass fisheries are created equal. There are some ponds, lakes and rivers that are simply not as good as others. Don’t waste time in unproductive waters with bad populations of bass.

If you aren’t having any success catching bass and you’ve tried several spots at different times, it might be time to try a different place for your next fishing adventure.

Every state has a website with fishing information and locations. Do some research and don’t be afraid to explore and try new waters. You may just find your next favorite fishing spot.

Final Thoughts

Let’s be real – Nobody likes spending the entire day bass fishing only to end up not catching anything at all.  

The truth is bass fishing can be tough at times, but with these fishing tips and strategies you’ll understand why the bass aren’t biting and what you can do to turn your fishing day around and catch more bass.

I hope that this article has provided some value to you and that you apply what we have discussed on your next fishing trip.

Best of luck out there

Tight lines

Aaron Warner

Aaron Warner is an avid angler with over 15 years of experience. He has participated and won fishing tournaments all over the country and enjoys fishing for bass, trout, walleye and other species.

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