Not Catching Fish? Here are 11 Reasons Why the Fish Aren’t Biting

Let me know if this sounds familiar to you – you’re out fishing at your favorite fishing spot, but the fish aren’t biting and are nowhere to be found. After a while you ask yourself the question, ‘why am I not catching any fish?’

We have all been there. This happens to not only beginners but even the most skilled anglers. In this article we share the main reasons why you aren’t catching any fish and some tips and tricks that will help make sure you don’t get skunked on your next fishing trip.

11 Reasons Why You’re Not Catching Fish

Here are the main reasons why you aren’t catching any fish and what you can do to turn your fishing trip around.

1.You Are Fishing the Wrong Areas

One of the most common mistakes anglers of all skill levels make is spending way too much time fishing in the wrong areas. There is a saying in fishing that goes something like this: 90 percent of the fish are in 10 percent of the water.

If you aren’t catching any fish, then you are probably fishing in the wrong area. The most time I would spend in the same spot is about 30-45 minutes. If you haven’t received a bite during this window its time to move on and fish some new water.

One of the keys in fishing is to be constantly on the move until you can find fish. Once you find them, then you can slow down and take your time fishing that area, but don’t waste time fishing in spots that aren’t holding any fish.

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

2. Fishing with the Wrong Lures or Bait

If you are fishing in the right areas and see other anglers catching fish, the odds are you are using the wrong type of bait or lure.

Fishing can be a crazy thing, what worked yesterday or last week may not work today. That’s why it’s important to mix it up. If you’ve been fishing the same lure or technique for a while don’t be afraid to switch it up until you can find something the fish will respond to.  

I’ve made the mistake of sticking with a lure or bait too long when I could have switched things up and caught fish, but I was too stubborn or lazy to switch. Don’t make this mistake. The fish will tell you what they like on a given day, you just got to present them with the right stuff.  

3. You’re Using the Wrong Lure Size (Too Big or Small)

Another common reason why the fish may not be biting is that you might be using lures and baits that are either too small or too big.

Fishing an oversized lure can be a big mistake. We have all heard the term big baits catch big fish and this is a true statement. However, sometimes fish will key in on smaller food thus causing smaller baits to outperform bigger and flashy style lures.

On the other hand, if you are trying to catch larger fish it might be a good idea to size up. The bigger fish are lazy at times and prefer a larger meal that won’t cause them to expend a lot energy.

Matching the hatch is a term in fishing that basically means using lures and baits that closely resemble what the fish are feeding on. Matching your baits and lures to the hatch can dramatically improve your odds at catching fish.

4. You’re Using the Wrong Colors

Color may seem like a minor thing but it can have a big impact on your fishing success. If the fish aren’t biting on the color you’re using, then try switching it up.  

There have been times when I have been fishing almost the exact lure or bait as someone else, just in a different color, and I couldn’t catch anything while others were reeling them in left and right. Your color choice can make a big difference.

After a while if you are not catching anything on a particular color try switching to a different one. Preferable a color that is in contrast with your last choice.

In clear water situations I like to fish natural colors such as greens and browns. In murky or stained water I prefer bright or dark colors.

5. Fishing at the Wrong Time of Day

If you’re not having any luck fishing, you may be fishing during the wrong time of day. I am a big believer that with a little patience and persistence you can catch fish at any time.

However, there is no denying that during certain times of the day fish are more active and you’ll have a way better chance of catching fish.  

The best time to go fishing for most species is going to be in the morning, evening or during overcast conditions. To learn more about this, check out an article I wrote called: When is the Best Time to go Fishing?

6. Fishing at the Wrong Speed

If you are struggling finding and catching fish, don’t overlook your retrieval speed. Your retrieval speed, cadence, and the way you work your lure or bait can be key.

Fishing too fast won’t allow your targeted fish to get good look at your lure, preventing them from striking. On the other hand, fishing too slow won’t allow you to cover enough water or properly imitate the fishes forage.

Here are a few tips on when you should slow down or speed up.

Slow Down – When fish are extra finicky and sluggish, slowing down your retrieval speed is a great way to catch more fish. A lot of fish species will become sluggish and not as active during the winter months and will prefer a slower presentation.

Speed Up – When water temperatures are high and the fish are more active it may be more beneficial to work fast. This will allow you to fish more water and catch those more aggressive fish.

Note if you are fishing with live bait or PowerBait this tip won’t apply in your situation.

7. Water Temperature

Water temperatures can play a big role in your fishing success. All species of freshwater fish are cold blooded, meaning they take on the temperature of their surroundings.  This means their activity level, when they eat, and how much they eat will change depending on the water temperatures.

There are both cold and warm water species that have different temperatures they prefer and can tolerate. It’s important to keep this in mind when you are fishing for a particular species. Once the water temperature gets too hot or cold fish tend to shut down.

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

8. Cold Fronts

If you have been fishing for a while you have probably ran into a cold front or two. Cold fronts are a term most anglers dread hearing and for good reason they are known for shutting the bite down.

So what exactly is a cold front? A cold front is basically the transition zone where a cold air mass is replacing a warmer air mass. Temperatures can drop more than 15 degrees within the first hour.

Is the fishing tough during a cold front? It sure can be, but it’s certainly not impossible to catch fish. Use smaller lures, fish deeper, fish tight to cover, and slow down your presentation and retrieval.

9. You’re Too Loud

The number nine reason that you aren’t catching fish is that you are being too loud. Fishing is like hunting in the sense that if a fish sees or hears you coming they will most likely be scared off. Once a fish spooks they can be difficult to catch.

Everyone has either said or heard, “be quite or you will scare the fish away.” It’s true that fish can feel movement, vibrations, and noises that will cause them to spook. Once this happens the only thing you can do is just move on and come back.  

It’s best to be as quite as you can and try your best to sneak up on the fish so they don’t take off.

10. Not at the Right Water Depth

Another reason why you aren’t getting any fish to bite is that you are fishing at the wrong depths. Most fish will prefer different depths and this can be influenced by the season, time of the day and the weather patterns.

For example, largemouth bass can typically be found in shallow water throughout the spring and fall months. However, when it gets too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer they will head deeper.

Understanding and knowing what depth the fish will be at a certain time can play a huge factor in being able to catch fish.

If you aren’t sure if they are shallow or deep, move around until you can find a fish or two and try and find areas that replicate the same spot where you caught some fish. One you have a nice pattern down you’ll be able to catch a ton of fish.

11. Fishing At the Wrong Place

Not all fishing destinations are created equal. There are some lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds that are just simply better than others.

If you aren’t not having any luck at your destination, try fishing at a different place the next time you decide to go fishing. Each state has a fishing website with fishing reports that you can go on and find quality places to fish.  

Don’t be afraid to try some new locations, you might just find a new favorite fishing spot.

Other Fishing Resources

Final Thoughts

Let’s be honest – Nobody likes spending the entire day fishing and coming home empty handed. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the fish don’t bite! These fishing tips you’ll understand why they aren’t biting and what you can do to turn the tables and catch some fish. I hope that you have found some value in this content and that apply it the next time you faced tough fishing conditions. 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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