Have you ever been on a body of water you know very well, and you know bass should be biting but you cannot buy a bite? Things to look for can be right in front of your face. Be observant and look for clues.
Recently, the hot weather has us night fishing a lot and noticing bite windows in our trips. It is always good to figure out why that is and to know what it is that will maximize the chances in getting a bite or catching that bigger fish. Situations can occur where you know bass are feeding heavily at that moment but will not touch anything you have to offer them. In a reservoir you have the shad spawn, and in ponds you have the bluegill spawn, which can trigger aggressive feedings in which only the forage they are focused on will work.
One of my favorite things in the summer is night fishing, and that gives me a perspective on feeding patterns I do not see in the day. The bite windows could be caused by the moon peeking out of the clouds or something like a shad spawn. During the shad spawn you will hear blow ups in just inches of water, and once this happens they only want what they are eating and are particular in how they ambush them. When you figure out this is what is happening you need a bait close to the same size as the shad they are eating. Baits like flukes, spinnerbaits, poppers, walking baits, and under-spins are a few I like to use—just make sure they are the same size as what they are eating.
Next is how they are ambushing them. If you see blow ups in inches of water you may have to throw your lure on dry land and then drag it in the water. If you cast it in a foot of water they will not pay any attention to it unless they start to back out due to sunlight hitting the water.
In ponds you most likely will have to use a lure colored like a bluegill since that’s the forage of choice. Bass like to hang around the bluegill beds to ambush, because the meal is easy to catch. Bass will also be in schools helping each other out, and when you know this is going on you can load up on bass one after another.
It is important to pay attention to these signs because you can be fishing a different way and not catch any fish. If you see a low light situation, like an overcast sky, and the bite is dead, check for a shad spawn. If you see lots of bluegill beds in the area cast your lures just outside those beds, in the deeper water, with a bluegill pattern and see if that is what is going on.
Sometimes it can seem like it is just not a good day to fish, but if you know what is going on, it can be the best day of the year.
Scott Norton is a Western North Carolina native. Born in Asheville, N.C., he is a long-time hunter, angler and weekend warrior.