Bass fishing can fill the mind with doubt some days. Are the fish even there ? It’s a migratory species, highly mobile, shoaling, a creature of habit, but not entirely predictable. The seasons, the weather, water temperature, food source, length of day, moon phase, tide state … all these factors influence these majestic fish, and we can be left scratching our heads in bewilderment.
When fishing a stocked still-water for trout, you know they are there. Generally you see them, or see tell-tale signs of them. Yet still, catch rates will vary wildly from day to day, and even during the course of a day. These are living creatures, they don’t feed constantly, but can often be encouraged to feed by triggering instinctive behaviour. When the fishing is tough on one of these waters, it’s often a case of trial and error to see what will work on that day. Will it be a particular colour, speed of retrieve, depth, or maybe size of the fly that will be the magic ingredient?
When fishing a rocky shoreline, or a sandy beach you don’t truly know whether the bass are infront of you or not. This can be especially true at the start or end of the season, or in areas which often have a barren patch through the mid-summer (moreso a problem for shore anglers). Therefore if your approach isn’t working, even if it’s worked many times before, what do you do ? You could conclude that the bass simply aren’t there. Or you could try the ‘trout’ approach … assume that the bass are infront of you, and that it’s down to you, the angler, to find the winning combination.
This approach may seem blindingly obvious for an experienced successful angler, but all too often for the less experienced angler the seeming lack of action on a tried and trusted method can be disheartening. The answer is not always obvious. Conditions can seem perfect for s/p’s or shallow divers, but a switch to top-water might actually be the recipe for success or vice versa.
Next time you are in this situation, just try a few non-obvious techniques …. rip a surface lure quickly back towards you, sit an s/p stationary on the bottom, swing a sinking minnow across some current, fire a metal at the horizon … just experiment, assume it’s simply a question of you needing to solve the formula. You might get a pleasant surprise.