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BankBassing

HELP! Am I terrible at fishing? Or is it my location?

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BACKSTORY:  I took up bass fishing just this summer (at the beginning of summer.)  We'd done a lot of catfishing, and been successful, but in watching fishing videos on YouTube, I saw all the different lures, tactics, and equipment, and thought it looked like I blast.  I began to collect different baits, and would try them as I got them.  I tried Whiptail inline spinners, different color Senkos and other worms on a Carolina rig, weighted and weightless Texas rigs, Wacky rigs, Neko Rigs, jigs of all types, poppers, squarebill crankbaits, jerkbaits, rage lizards and other soft plastic creature baits.  Now, I have done all this in 3 different locations on the Ohio River, two different dams (tailraces/tailwaters) at Hannibal Lock and Dam, and Willow Island Lock and Dam, along with our local marina which has two nice docks.

Now, all this has been in the form of bankfishing and dockfishing since I don't have access to anything else.  The kicker?  I have caught ZERO bass in the past 2 and a half months.  To add insult to injury, my son has caught 2 smallmouths by accident while trying to catch catfish with nightcrawlers. 

What am I doing wrong?  I know it's the heat of summer which is hard, and this has been a bit of an odd year, because we had massive flooding here in WV, although that was all south of where I'm fishing.  We're taking a trip next week to a local preserve lake that supposedly has plenty of bass.  If I don't catch anything there, I'm just about to hang it up.  As much as I enjoy it, it's getting really frustrating.  Just to answer questions ahead of time, I'm using two different rod/reel setups:  A baitcaster with 20lb braid and a 17lb fluorocarbon leader on a medium heavy rod, and a spinning setup with 14lb Trilene. 

Sorry for being so longwinded, but trying to give all the pertinent details.  Thanks for your help!

P.S.  I know I could throw a nightcrawler on a line and stand a chance, but I'd really like to avoid using live bait if possible.  Just because I think there's more sport in using plastic baits.

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Try fishing at night.

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Bruh, bass fishing has like an awful learning curve lol.  You are doing fine.  Just be a sponge and learn everything you can.  You will catch fish, don't you worry.  Fish something simple, a Texas Rig.  It will catch fish.  Just keep at it, and keep your head up.  PM me with any questions you have and I will be more than happy to assist you!

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Let's start with the spinning combo; change the line to 8# Trilene line and use;

1. Drop shot rig.

2. Slip shot rig.

Terminal tackle; 1/4 oz drop shot weight, 1/8 oz mojo cylinder weight, size 1 Owner mosquito hook and #5133 size 1/0 down shot hook, Carolina Keeps.

Soft plastics GYCB 5 3/4" Kut tail worm and Roboworm 5" curltail.

Drop shot set the 1/4 oz weight 10" below the mosquito hook, use a Palomar knot.

Nose or wacky hook the cut tail worm.

Slip shot slide the mojo weight up the line, use the Carolina keeper to stop the weight about 24" above the #5133 hook, weedless hook the worm.

worm colors; Roboworm oxblood red flake, Kut tail baby bass.

You cast the slip shot rig as far as possible, let sink to the bottom and slowly drag the rig with a stop and go retrieve. Cast in a fan pattern to cover 180 area.

Use the drop shot rig in deeper water areas using a shorter length cast. Cast out, let the weight hit bottom and raise the rod tip about 2 o'clock position, take up any slack line and hold the rod tip high without moving the weight and slightly shack the rod tip for several seconds. Move the wright about 1' to 3' and repeat.

Don't keep changing colors, stay with those 2 rigs until you start to catch bass.

Tom

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This is the thread that was most helpful to me when I was getting back into fishing.  Even today, I find dead-sticking soft plastics to be the single most consistent technique (in terms of number of bites) in the arsenal.  

Give yourself some time and the grace to fail a little more before you get too frustrated. But, having said that, try to be really analytical about your experiences.  Are you really fishing the baits slow, or does it just feel slow because you're impatient?  What thinking is going on as you're choosing an area to fish and what to throw?  Is that thinking faulty/improvable?  Could it be something as simple as being more stealthy in approaching the area (something I take for granted bank fishing all the time)?

Start with a consistent technique for passive fish (drop shotting, dead sticking, slow dragging a jig/texas/carolina) and stick with it until you build some confidence.

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I am curious if I'm fishing my Texas and Carolina rig slow enough.  What is a realistic time line for leaving it set, reeling it in a bit, shaking it a bit?  Maybe an estimate how many seconds you typically do each?

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Yes. Dead sticking senkos is pretty foolproof if you watch the line. If it starts to rise once you've sunk or it runs off left or right. Set that thing Sonny.

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One other suggestion besides the ones others have made is to get a canoe or kayak. Being on the water makes a huge difference. You can get to a lot of places you can't hit from the shore or a dock. Trust me. I spend time without a boat and its tough to catch bass from shore. 

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Tackle and bait are tools.  Each tool has qualities for catching fish where the fish are located. Where the fish are located depends on biology and time of year.

bone up on bass biology and seasonal trends.  Then take a look at the body of water to locate the conditions that fit the biology and/or seasonal trend.  Once you have a grasp on those things finding the fish will be easier.  Then it becomes about tackle and technique.  

Least this his is how I perceive things.  I still have a day job that doesn't include fishing though lol.  

Side note: this is what impresses me about folks who do fish for a living.  They are quick to learn a body of water and find those fishes.  

 

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53 minutes ago, BankBassing said:

I am curious if I'm fishing my Texas and Carolina rig slow enough.  What is a realistic time line for leaving it set, reeling it in a bit, shaking it a bit?  Maybe an estimate how many seconds you typically do each?

No set time as bass change activity levels throughout the day and night.

My general rule of thumb on activity levels;

active; 20%, activity levels of very active to neutral are within this %

inactive; 80%, inactive levels from sleeping to very inactive to suspended neutral are within this %.

active bass are catchable with a wide variety of lures and presentations.

inactive bass are difficult to impossible to catch.

In most lakes, ponds and rivers some bass will always be active somewhere, it's up to the individual angler to locate and determine how to catch those bass.

Keep changing the pace your retreive until strikes occur.

Tom

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A couple of additional things that may help when using the techniques WRB mentioned, and when fishing a T-rig or C-rig: 

Slow down! When you think you are fishing slow and you are not getting bit, slow down some more. When not getting a bite for long stretches of time, many anglers begin to get impatient. Impatience often causes them to fish a little faster. Therefore always have "slow" in the back of your mind. 

Another thing that may help is to vary your retrieve each cast or every couple of casts until you get bit. Then stick to that retrieve. This is also true not just for soft plastics, but goes for other baits as well. If the retrieve you are using doesn't get bit, why continue using it?

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Lot of great advice here.  One I would add, if you are waiting for the bass to slam the bait and run away, you may have already missed dozens of fish. Your gear is plastics heavy which is great, but probably 50% or better of the summertime hits I get on plastics could be mistaken as a hang up or disregarded completely by someone new to bassin.  

WRB always offers excellent advice, so if I were you, I would follow his guidance and then be prepared to set the hook on the most subtle of changes.  You will be hooking water a whole lot when you start, but once you get that first one or two under your belt so you know how the fish feels, you will catch them all the time.  

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Fishing below lock and dams I go for bites not bass . Cheap jig heads with grubs , Rocket Shads and other small heavy casting lures are the ticket . I target current breaks,  let the lures sink and try not to get snagged to often . I catch lots of different species and its a lot of fun .

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I am going to go a different direction than the rest of the posters & tell you that yes, you are indeed terrible at fishing.  My professional recommendation is that you take two weeks off & then quit.  Please send all your gear & tackle to me, I will make sure to educate them how to properly catch fish... :)

Seriously, take a step back & don't be so serious.  Keep learning from people on this forum, keep trying different techniques and areas and enjoy the process.  One day you will look back and smile.

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17 hours ago, BankBassing said:

I am curious if I'm fishing my Texas and Carolina rig slow enough.  What is a realistic time line for leaving it set, reeling it in a bit, shaking it a bit?  Maybe an estimate how many seconds you typically do each?

In high summer, I'm leaving plastics still for up to 20-30 seconds between 'twitches' in many cases...  I cast out and count somewhat slowly in my head before I do anything.

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Thanks a lot for all the great advice.  Onvacation has a good point as well.  Where we fish there are a ton of rocks on the bottom, and the current will often sweep your line under a rock even if you are fishing a weedless setup, so I am always hesitant about setting the hook if I have any doubt it's a fish, because of it's not, it's an instant snag.  I may just have to bite the bullet and set more often, although it's gonna probably cost me a ton of money in lures/hooks.

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41 minutes ago, BankBassing said:

Thanks a lot for all the great advice.  Onvacation has a good point as well.  Where we fish there are a ton of rocks on the bottom, and the current will often sweep your line under a rock even if you are fishing a weedless setup, so I am always hesitant about setting the hook if I have any doubt it's a fish, because of it's not, it's an instant snag.  I may just have to bite the bullet and set more often, although it's gonna probably cost me a ton of money in lures/hooks.

My advice was for the private reserve lake you plan to fish, not for heavy current River fishing.

River fishing I would suggest using 1/4 oz ball head jig with a Keitech 3" to 4" silver shiner swim bait, using your spinning tackle. You need to learn to read moving water and fish the seams where slower moving water meets fasting water, current breaks etc.

Changing lures and techniques is less effective then staying with high % proven lures and presentations. You now have 3 presentation that use the same tackle, all high percentage.

Tom

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i have only been to the Ohio area visiting a friend..only time i had decent success on the river was mid may till early June below lock areas when smallies spawning..killed them then..but in the Summer it was tough..i suggest early or late in the day or try some local lake or ponds

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The more I think about the comment about simply missing a lot of fish, the more I think that's probably the case.  I'm fishing in the river, with a lot of current, which prevents me from really seeing if there is a change in my line, or my lure is moving.  I'm anxious to fish a lake or pond where I can actually monitor my line, and the waves won't make it impossible to detect a change.

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4 hours ago, WRB said:

River fishing I would suggest using 1/4 oz ball head jig with a Keitech 3" to 4" silver shiner swim bait, using your spinning tackle. You need to learn to read moving water and fish the seams where slower moving water meets fasting water, current breaks etc.

 

This is good advice. We've got a fairly small river here that I fish often. When I first started fishing, I thought there was no way there were bass in there. Then I started to research how to find bass in the rivers. I started looking for deep pools where the water slows down, eddies, bends, etc. I started fishing those, primarily with a shallow crank bait because a friend had some success with it. It wasn't too long before I started catching some smallies. I just caught two tonight using a spinner bait for the first time. We had big rain the past two days and the water was really high, really fast, and really muddy. 

I've yet to catch a bass using a soft plastic (I just started this summer, too). I'm hesitant to try plastics on the river because of current, rocks, etc. I would use what WRB suggested. Keep at it, and you're sure to start catching some bass. 

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I started bass fishing with artificials about 6 years ago, and I'd say I'm still very much a beginner (so take what I'm saying with a grain of salt).

When I started, I literally did not catch a fish for 1.5 consecutive summers. I was fishing a heavily pressured suburban pond in NJ, and I would see people around catch fish pretty regularly. For me? Nothing. Zip. It was incredibly frustrating... but fishing beats not fishing any day of the week!

The first lure I ever caught a bass on was a weightless T-rigged Yum Dinger. Still my most consistent lure for fishing specific pieces of cover/sight fishing (I like them better than senkos, but that's just a confidence thing). Cast it out, let it sink for 10 seconds, lift it and let it fall again. If the line swims off, set the hook (they'll usually hold onto it for a long time, b/c of the scent and salt).

The second lure I ever caught a bass on (and caught my PB) was a Booyah Pond Magic spinnerbait. Still my most consistent search bait. Cast it out and wind it in, keeping it above the bottom and below the surface. Honestly, most of the fish that hit it hook themselves, but if you miss bites just cut the skirt shorter.

The lure I hand friends who have never fished before is a Trout Magnet. That little gold bug is magic -- you'd be hard pressed to catch anything giant, but I've landed largemouth, smallmouth, trout, crappie, white perch, yellow perch, shad, shiners, fallfish and various sunfish on those things. Almost never been skunked with it. Attach a float (the company that makes trout magnets also sells good floats) a foot or two above the lure and slowly twitch it in -- set when the float goes under.

On rivers, inline spinners are da bomb. Cast and reel. Never heard of whiptail, but maybe try a 1/8-1/4 oz roostertail, panther martin or mepps aglia?

Enjoy fishing!!!

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Don't give up, summer is gonna be the hardest time of the year to catch bass. I'd suggest hitting up a new spot early in the morning or late in the afternoon. 

If that doesn't help, then just wait till fall and give it a try again. 

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Welcome to bass fishing.

All of the above posts will give you guidance and make you a better all around fisherman.

What you are lacking is "confidence." Confidence in  your techniques, baits and tackle. Confidence comes with time so be patient.

Confidence also comes with knowledge. Read, read and read about bass fishing in all of the magazines and books you can obtain.

You know about YouTube so continue to watch their productions and subscribe to this Forum's YouTube and Facebook programs.

And keep a fishing log. There is a sample fishing log included in one of the tabs at the top of the Forum page. Find it; make copies; and complete it every time you go fishing. You will see patterns emerge that you had no idea were happening.

So continue to do your best and you will find the most comfortable and reliable equipment, techniques and baits for yourself which will give you confidence.

Good luck and let us know how you are progressing.

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Confidence starts by catching fish and a lot of them.  The best way to do that is to fish smaller bodies of water.  I fished a lot of ponds and small reservoirs growing up and it really built my confidence and helped me get a feel for the bite.  I still have a lot more trouble on large lakes and rivers to this day, it takes a lot more patience and know-how.  On some large lakes I may only get a handful of fish all day (bank and dock fishing).  On a pond or small lake without much pressure and an overabundance of fish, I could hook up with a hundred in a day.  My advice is to hone your skills on smaller waters, then move up and use that knowledge to attack the larger lakes and rivers.  

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I can't thank everyone enough for the encouragement and advice.  I really think my frustration is just a combination of hard conditions and lack of experience.  I began to question of the river was the best place for a beginner like me to have luck, when I saw how few river bass fishing instructional videos there were on youtube.  Almost all lakes and ponds.  I'll keep trying on the river, simply because I can get there at least every other day, but when I have the time/money I'll hit some other locations.  Hopefully the experience there, and learning the feel of the bite will translate to the river eventually.  I might just be spoiled by the way catfish bite, and missing the subtlety of bass bites.  I'll come back here and post when I finally get me one.

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