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Why Can’t I Catch Any Fish? (10 Common Reasons)

Why Can’t I Catch Any Fish? (10 Common Reasons)

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Fishing can be a great way to destress after a long and tiring week at work. Just you, chilling on your lawn chair with a beer in hand and a fishing rod in the other. 

However, minutes quickly turn to hours, but you can’t seem to get a bite. The float simply hovers unmoving on the water’s surface, teasing your patience as you wait for the line to pull.

Whether you’re fishing for pleasure or food, it can get quite frustrating and take the fun out of it. Is it the bait? Or is it your unlucky day? Why can’t you catch a fish?

Well, I can think of plenty of plausible reasons for this hitch. Consider the following scenarios and turn your luck around to haul some dinner-worthy catch!

1 – Poor Fishing Spot

In Fishing Boat

One of the most common mistakes newbie anglers make is spending too much time fishing at the wrong spot.

Just because you’re at a popular fishing spot doesn’t mean you’ll be reeling in buckets. You might be fishing in a spot that has very few fish or one that doesn’t have fish at all!

There’s an old angling tradition called the 90/10 rule. It states that you can find 90 percent of fish in 10% of the bodies of water. To put it simply, you should probably move around.

Don’t cast your line on a single spot longer than 30 minutes! There isn’t much point in sticking around if the fish aren’t biting after such a duration.

Take a walk and let your fly off in as many areas as possible. Once you find the 10% water where fish commune, you’ll reel in more than you can eat for supper!

2 – Deep or Shallow

Fish behave differently at certain water levels. So, instead of blaming your luck, you might just be fishing in too shallow or too deep spots.

When water levels are low, they tend to find deeper pockets, hiding under rocks or roots. You can take advantage of this scenario by focusing on concentrated water spots.

As water levels rise, the fish will have more room to spread out, but they generally move closer to the banks. During this time, you can concentrate your efforts on covering shallow sections.

However, like the 90/10 rule, consider moving around and switching up your spot frequently. You might need to move from shallow to deeper waters, so change your lure accordingly.

If you’re trying to catch a specific type of fish, consider researching the water depths they prefer. Use this information to your advantage to find a spot that makes sense.

3 – Wrong Fish Bait

Fishing Lures

Lure and bait issues could also be to blame for your fishing woes. It might come as a surprise, but fish won’t eat anything just because it resembles food!

Try to learn what types of fish are present in the fishing spot where you’re going. Then, use this information to ensure you bring lures and fishing baits that will work for the local fish population.

Here’s a pro tip:

Bring as many lures as you can along for your fishing trip!

You might have had a bait work out well the last time you fished at this location, but it might not work as well now for whatever reason. So, try changing your bait to see if it makes a difference.

If you’re fishing for days at a time, mix up the bait on different days to keep the fish interested. It might sound simple, but trying something new might help you turn things around.

4 – Incorrect Lure Size

Lure size can play a vital role in your fishing success. You see, you’re only going to attract fish interested in the bait you’re using.

You might be using oversized lures for a fishing spot with a medium-sized fish population. Or, you could be chucking undersized bait for bigger prey who can’t be bothered with a tiny snack.

If you’ve been having rotten luck so far, then it would benefit you to try blending things up. Change the size of the lure that you’re using and see if the results get better.

Of course, consider the fish you’re trying to reel in, too! Bigger lures work best for deep-water fishes, while smaller baits do wonders in shallow-water fishing.

5 – Unsuitable Bait Color

5 – Changing the Color

Colorful Fishing Lures

If you’ve been angling awhile, you’ll notice that fish will bite particular lure colors more than others. Thus, many anglers keep lures of different colors and sizes in their tackle boxes.

The general rule of thumb for a bait color is to match the water’s environment. You’ll want your lure to stand out but not too much to cause suspicion.

When fishing in clear water, use natural shades like green, brown, and black. On the other hand, bright colors, such as red, chartreuse, and orange, work best in murky bodies of water.

Is switching lures repeatedly too tiresome? Here’s an easy trick to follow:

If you see that one of your friends is having some luck using a lure of a specific color, then it might be worth changing your lure out to a color that matches what they’re using!

6 – Flawed Fishing Technique

Your technique could be wrong, and this could be making you come up empty all the time. For instance, you could be reeling too fast or chucking your bait overhead the fish, startling them.

Retrieve too fast, and the fish won’t have enough time to catch the bait. Conversely, you could be going way too slow and not getting the fish’s attention.

Consider mixing up your retrieval speed. Or better, try the stop-and-go retrieve, where you alternate reeling for a few turns and pausing to capture an uncooperative fish.

When casting your line, throw your bait beyond your fishing spot. This way, you won’t drop the bait on their heads and scare them away!

7 – Time of the Day

Fishing In The Dark

Another mistake many anglers make is to assume there’s fish to catch any time of the day. And sure, patience is the name of the game, so there’s some truth to this belief.

However, it’s also true that fish activity varies throughout the day. So, instead of wasting much of your daytime, it’d be wiser to cast that line when most fish are active.

Okay, but what’s the best time to fish?

Well, it’s best to fish during earlier and later hours of the day. Many swimmers grab a bite during dawn or dusk when sunlight is scarce.

8 – Water Temperature Changes

Water temperature changes have a huge impact on whether the fish bites your lure or not. As cold-blooded creatures, a fish’s diet largely depends on the weather and water temperature.

Most fish tend to slow down during freezing weather. So, if you’re having a tough time getting fish to bite, it could be that the weather is too cold for the fish in the area.

On the other hand, the warmer the temperature, the faster fishes digest their food. They’re more active and feed often, making them easier to catch.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not entirely impossible to reel a meal during a cold front. But it’ll surely be a tad more challenging than when you do it on a warmer day!

9 – Making Too Much Noise

Three Men Fishing

As surprising as it sounds, fish do hear sounds even underwater! So, while tempting, blasting your favorite music on a speaker isn’t the best idea to do while fishing.

Fish have a well-developed auditory sense and can detect the faintest vibrations, helping them survive in the wild. Too much noise will scare them, making it impossible to get them to bite. 

In many ways, fishing is similar to hunting, so try not to make your presence known!

If you’ve been sitting there with no luck, maybe try moving to a more quiet fishing area. Keep the chatter with your fishing buddies to a minimum, and watch as you reel one after the other.

10 – Oops! Wrong Season

Much like time and water temperature, fishing relies tremendously on the season. Whether you’re an expert or a simple hobby angler, understanding seasonal changes significantly improves your chances of success on the water.

Fish exhibit different behavioral patterns throughout the year. For instance, some species feed voraciously during spring to prepare for spawning, which means festive months for anglers.

In some places, the fish might become inactive or migrate during certain parts of the year. You might have just decided to wait too long, or it’s gotten too cold for fish to crave food.

Sadly, if the season of the year is to blame for the lack of fish, then you’re just going to have to wait. Try fishing a few months later when the season changes and the fish are biting again.

Essential Fishing Tips to Remember

Rotten luck in the water? Here are a few tips you should remember before casting that line:

Prepare Appropriate Gear

Getting your tools right is the first step to reeling in your dream catch. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all rods, lures, or reels. 

That 12-pound casting reel you use for bass fish might be overkill for black crappie. You don’t want to play tug-of-war with a large-mouthed bass using a four-pound-class ultralight either.

Get fishing gear correctly sized for the fish you’re trying to bait! Avoid compromising and making do, which usually ends in a disappointing fish day for everyone.

Find a New Fishing Spot

Don’t be afraid to relocate. If you want to reel in that big swimmer, forget the comfort of your lawn chair and start moving!

Discovering new fishing spots you’ve never tried before is half the fun. Venture into the wilderness further and locate fresh angling sites to catch fascinating fish for supper.

The trick is to know where fish are likely to go. 

Cast your line under overhanging banks, fallen trees, and submerged rocks. They love to hang out in areas where they can blend into the environment, offering you the best opportunities to strike.

Research Ahead of Time

Remember to do some research ahead of time when you’re going on a fishing trip. You can get a lot of information about fishing spots online to help you prepare.

Knowing the fish population in specific bodies of water lets you bring appropriate lures and bait. You’ll also be able to get information about the depth of the water so that you can plan for that.

A prepared angler will always have a stroke of better luck than one who did no research in most instances. Spending a little time doing light research doesn’t take much effort, yet it can significantly boost your chances of catching more fish!


Care to learn more about fishing? Here are a few commonly asked questions that might help you on your next fishing trip:

Why am I not getting any fish bites?

Besides your luck, there are plenty of likely reasons why fish avoid your bait. The fishing spot, the season, water temperature, time of the day, lure color, bait size, and environment can all contribute to a poor fishing experience.

What is the best time for fish to bite?

While fish are opportunistic feeders and eat whenever they can, there are certain times of the day when they eat more. 

The best time to cast your line is during low-light conditions. It could mean during dawn, dusk, gloomy weather, or at a shady fishing site.

How do you know when a fish bites?

There are plenty of signs when a fish takes your bait. When a fish bites, you might notice the tip of your fishing rod twitching.

You can also determine the size of the fish by how strong the pull is. A tiny swimmer would only make small movements, while a bigger fish exerts more noticeable tension on the rod.

Final Thoughts

There you go! Those are some of the most plausible causes of why you’re not catching fish. Your fishing spot, gear, or other environmental factors might be the ones causing your agony.

Aside from patience, preparation is another vital contributor to your fishing success. Researching and understanding fish behavior will be your most valuable allies.

Happy fishing!

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If you want more backyard tips including recipes, how-tos and more, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel

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