I am not by nature blessed with a lot of patience. But bass fishing has taught me one thing: Being impatient can cause you some heartache and lead to a lot of time on the water with no results. But if you are patient, you just may be able to wait those fish out until they are ready to bite.
One of the worst times for me to fish is after a full moon. During a full moon, especially on a clear night, the bass will feed during those evening hours. For them, having the full moon as a backdrop makes it very easy for them to see prey above them and feed. Because of that, they are generally not in a very aggressive feeding mode once those early morning hours come around. As a matter of fact, getting bites in the early morning can be downright difficult until the day has progressed some.
One of the things I like to do when I encounter this situation is to fish some sort of moving bait early in the morning. You may be able to find a bass or two that is still feeding before the sun starts to light up the water. My favorite bait is a lipless crankbait in slightly deeper water near the edge of a vegetation line. For some reason this type of cover, along with this bait, is often able to produce a few bites when things get slow.
But patience is key. The one thing you don’t want to do is to leave an area where you know there are fish. You may want to slow your presentation down or even downsize your bait in order to get a bait, but don’t get caught up running around the lake looking for fish willing to bite. When the problem is moon phase, moving to the other end of the lake won’t help. I was reintroduced to this lesson the hard way last weekend.
I was fishing in a place that I knew produced bass. I had caught one on a Rat-L-Trap and had one other bite that didn’t hook up. We’d had a full moon and a clear night before, but ran into some cloud cover early in the morning when we started fishing. Some friends of ours had pulled into this spot as well. We had seen them fish it before, and they had not caught any bass at that time.
Missy and I managed to get one more, but I decided it was time to make a long run and try another spot. Big mistake. Never leave fish to find fish. It’s a motto I generally adhere to, but for some reason I ignored it. Needless to say, we never got a bite the rest of the day — but our buddies ended up catching numerous keeper bass. They informed me that they started to bite about 20 minutes after we had left that same spot. Once again, a lesson learned.
But they did what you should do. They slowed down their presentation, they went to smaller baits with lighter weights, and waited out a spot that they knew would produce bites. Waiting for the fish to feed again — just a little patience — was all that was needed.
I can’t reiterate this enough. You can’t force the fish to feed. You can be opportunistic and make sure you keep yourself in a spot where you can catch them once they start biting. But running away from fish you know are there is never a good strategy.
Now, I’m speaking specifically to conditions that are forcing the bite to be slow. This isn’t the same as being in a lousy spot, and everyone in different spots is loading the boat with fish. If that happens, you move. But when the bite is slow everywhere, you need to exercise patience and discipline in fishing. Fish moving baits early, then go to smaller and lighter soft plastic baits as the light comes up — and just wait for that bite to turn back on.
If you do this, you will be rewarded. You can take it a step further. Don’t even go out on the lake until after 9 or 10 a.m. That way you assure yourself of not losing your patience because you won’t have been out there that long. While my situation happened during a tournament, there have been times where I have stayed at the house and gone out later because I knew what conditions I was going to run into.
Either way, exercise some patience in these conditions and use the baits that will catch fish once the bite turns on. It can only help improve your chances on these slow days.
Greg Bartz is a tournament bass fisherman based in Lakeland. Greg fishes lakes throughout Florida’s Heartland and enjoys RV travel around the Southeast with his wife and tournament partner, Missy. Contact him at Greg.Bartz@SummitHoldings.com.