We spent the past few days on the Chesapeake Bay filming the latest episode of Got Bait?, our new kids-versus-adults fishing show, and the fish did exactly what I thought they would—by acting nothing like I thought they would. Both striped bass and bluefish rejected live spot, in favor of plastic lures. At times, we were over hordes of fish suspended at mid-depth, all of which refused to eat anything at all. And the hot-spot that’s produced a dozen successful fishing trips this spring was barren.
Fish change their minds. They swim around, and they change their feeding patterns. Sure. But through two days of fishing and multiple tidal cycles, these fish managed to do just about everything they haven’t been doing all spring. And last spring too, for that matter. It was the exact opposite of what I expected—which was exactly what I should've expected when I set up a six-man, two-boat crew and invested countless hours of prep-time.
While it’s a bit embarrassing to be hoodwinked by a bunch of finned critters with pea-sized brains, I’ve come to accept it as part of the fishing game. And eventually, we did get some decent fish on the line. Here are three tips that will help you score some fish, when they’re acting nothing like you expected… which you should, of course, expect.
1. Go somewhere else. I don’t mean try another spot close by, I mean make a major move. We covered a huge swath of water , hitting six or seven spots in a 15 mile radius, with the same results. But when we made a 30-mile shift, the fish were acting in a completely different manner.
2. Ignore fish that simply refuse to bite. We burned a lot of time in a couple of places that were loaded up with fish that wouldn’t feed. Sometimes a change in the tide fixes that situation but quite often, you’ll spend hours spinning your wheels. You may be able to see them on the meter but if they aren't biting, you may as well move on.
3. When the game-plan isn’t panning out, ditch it. If the fish aren’t acting as you expected—which you should expect—shift gears quickly. Chances are, your game-plan will continue to not pan out if you continue to follow it.
Are you curious to find out exactly how we changed things up, to go from zero bites to a feeding frenzy? Then tune in to Got Bait? Just “like” the boats.com Facebook page, and we’ll let you know before each episode airs.