Why Are The Bass Not Biting?

Bass fishing is North America’s number 1 sport fishing type and is among the most popular fishing types internationally. Bass are challenging to catch, and they can be frustrating when they are not biting. Nothing is more disappointing than heading out on the water for bass and returning empty-handed. What may cause the bass to not bite?

The bass may not be biting due to the use of incorrect bait or lures, lack of technique, fishing in the wrong locations, or even fishing at the wrong time of day or in the wrong season. Use live bait that bass hunt, fish in the morning or evening, and fish during the warmer months for best results. 

There are several reasons why the bass may not be biting, and there are always ways to entice these fish into taking a hook. You only need a few technique and gear changes, some skill, and some patience. Let’s explore the reasons why bass may not be biting when you go fishing and what to do about it. 

Why Are The Bass Not Biting?

Bass are predatory hunting fish that are surprisingly picky, depending on the time of year. These are excellent game and sport fish that are every angler’s favorite, requiring significant skill to catch consistently. 

However, regardless of who you are, there will come a day when the bass are just not biting, and you need to know what to do about it when the day comes. 

Bass are easy to catch in some seasons, but in others, they may need some extra encouragement to get on a hook. 

We will explore some of the most common reasons why the bass may not be biting and how you can make the changes that may increase your success. 

You May Be Fishing At The Wrong Time Of Day

Bass can be caught at any time of the day or night, but the reality is that some behaviors of these fish make them easier to catch at certain times of day and far more difficult to catch at others. 

One of the reasons why the bass may not be biting is simply due to fishing at the wrong time of day. Bass are far less likely to bite during the middle of the day, especially in winter, and they may not bite much during the heat of the day in summer. 

The anatomy and skill set of bass means they are ideally suited for low-light hunting. This means they are far more likely to bite during dawn and dusk when the sun barely lights the sky. 

These fish will bite during the day, especially if it is an overcast and rainy day, if they are spawning, or during the peak hunting season in summer. But they are significantly more likely to take a lure or bait item during their preferred hunting times of dawn and dusk. 

You may have some luck fishing at night if you have the skills for it, but this is best done when there is a full moon or plenty of starts, as the fish still need some light to hunt successfully. 

man fishing at dusk

You May Be Using The Wrong Lures

Bass are opportunistic hunters. There are certain seasons when they will eat almost anything, but there are also seasons when they are unlikely to take a lure that is not ideally suited for them. 

For this reason, when the bass are not biting, it is critical to use lures designed for bass, such as worm-type lures, and anything that may resemble a small fish, such as spooners. 

Fish along the bottom if you can, try to entice the bass by making your lures look like a feeding or wounded critter, and try to use lures made for bass. 

If no lure has worked so far, experiment with as many lures as you may think will work with bass. Experiment with various rig setups and different techniques until you find something that works. 

This can be frustrating, but it is worthwhile when you land a big bass after hours of trial.

bass fish being held by the lip at side of river

You May Be Using The Wrong Techniques

When bass are being picky, they may not bite a lure simply cast in the water. You may need to alter your techniques to make your lures or bait more enticing for a bass. 

These fish are hunters. Bass looks for prey items that are moving and those that will provide good nutrition. They want food that does not want to be eaten. 

If you cast a lure into the water and let it sit without using any techniques to draw the fish to it, you will never hook a bass unless it is in a feeding frenzy. 

Try some reeling techniques that make your lures or bait seem alive or more interesting, and you are sure to find a bass that is willing to bite. 

You May Be Fishing At The Wrong Season

Fishing for bass is a frustrating process at times, but it is made more difficult by fishing for bass at the wrong times of the year. 

Bass can be caught all year round if you live in a temperate place with stable temperatures throughout the year. But if you have hot summers and cold winters, bass always bites better in summer and spring. 

The winter months are very difficult for bass fishing, and these fish are unlikely to bite in winter unless you are in the right place at the right time and using live bait. 

The best seasons to fish for bass are during the spring when the fish are spawning, as bass tend to eat more to gain weight for breeding, and during the height of summer when the fish eat the most. 

Bass have adapted to eat the most during these seasons as they need more sustenance to survive spawning and more food after spawning. These months are when there is the most food available. 

If you are having trouble getting a bass on the hook in winter, the only thing to do may be to come back in spring. 

You May Be Using The Wrong Rig

You may have trouble getting bass to bite if you use the wrong rig, even if you are using the right lures. Some bass are very picky and fussy, but by changing your lure rig, you may have more success. 

Bass fishermen recommend using rigs such as the ‘jig head’ rig with an upright worm lure, a hook drop-in or drop-shot rig with a worm lure, a ‘shaky head’ jig, or a wacky rig. 

All of these setups are easy to do and only require a small weight, a worm lure, and a hook. They are proven to be very successful when combined with good fishing techniques, as they more closely mimic a real worm or small fish and mimic movements of living critters very well as the lure is reeled through the water. 

Sometimes the answer to bass that are not biting is simply using a new rig setup or technique that can make a significant difference without being difficult to do. 

You May Be Using The Wrong Bait

Another reason why bass may not be biting is simply using the wrong bait or bait that is the wrong size for the fish in the area. 

Before switching bait, try using a small bait item. Sometimes the fish are simply not big enough to take the bait that you are offering. 

It is also important to use bait that bass enjoy. Nightcrawlers, grasshoppers, crickets, sunfish, bream, shad, minnows, shiners, commercial bass bait, and even chicken livers all work well. 

Using the wrong bait will not entice a bass to bite, especially when it is not hungry, but using the right bait may cause a bass to bite when it is already full. 

school of minnow fish in shallow water

You May Be Fishing The Wrong Areas

Bass are difficult to catch because they can be elusive, especially when they are not hunting or spawning. Bass can be caught anywhere they may find food, but if you are fishing where bass don’t live, you will not catch any bass, regardless of how hard you try. 

This means that it is critical to ensure that you maximize the chances of getting a bass on your line by fishing in areas where bass are most likely to be. 

Bass tend to prefer areas with plenty of cover and hiding places from which to ambush their prey. They have a particular propensity toward man-made structures, such as docks, decks, and even structures designed to hold river and lake banks in place. 

These areas are popular for bass because they tend to breed plenty of food items that the bass can eat, and they like the cover that the structures provide, both for hunting and protection. 

If the bass are not biting where you are, try moving to a different area. The bass may not be biting simply because there are none around. There is no harm in moving to another area where you think the bass may be. 

You May Be Fishing At The Wrong Depth

Not everyone considers depth when fishing. Depth is among the most important aspects of fishing, and getting the depth wrong when sinking a line can be detrimental to your success on the day. 

The tricky thing about getting the depth right for bass is that they do not always stay at one depth. However, with that said, there are certain times of the year when their depth remains more stable than others. 

The summer months are the worst for gauging depth for bass fishing. Bass swim at almost all depths during the summer months as there is food for them at every depth, even in the air, which is why they are known to jump out of the water. 

If you are fishing on a colder day, in the autumn or winter, or if the day is very hot and sunny, try fishing at a deeper depth. 

When the air and sunlight are too hot and bright, or when the air is cold, fish such as bass tend to retreat to deeper water where there is more insulation from the weather, and the fish can more easily regulate their body temperature. 

If the day is very hot or very cold, try sinking your lines a little deeper than usual, and you may find more success. 

You May Be Too Close To Shore

Some bass can grow quite large. In this instance, they tend to move further away from the shore or the banks in search of larger prey items. 

Bass are predatory fish that will eat smaller fish. When they grow beyond a certain size, the only way bass can sustain themselves is by eating baitfish. 

For this reason, the prey items found along the shore or in shallow water are simply not enough to sustain them. 

If you happen to be in a section of water with only large bass, you are highly unlikely to find any in the shallow water or close to shore. 

Take the time to venture further into the deeper sections of water to look for ideal bass fishing locations rather than keeping to the shallows. This is highly likely to increase your chances of bass fishing success. 

kayak fisherman fishing in a lake

Why Is It So Difficult To Catch Bass?

Bass are notoriously difficult to catch. These fish are a favorite among sports anglers for this reason. They are always a challenge. Some days, they are far more challenging than others. Why are bass so difficult to catch sometimes?

The reality is that bass are very wily and very particular for most of the year. There are seasons when bass will eat anything, but for most of the year, bass are particular eaters, and they only move and live in certain environments. 

The environments that bass live in are very challenging to fish in, and it is easy for bass to miss bait and lures due to the density of vegetation and objects where they swim.

Bass are also hunters. This means they choose what they want to eat and when they want to eat it. Bass prefer hunting for their food and are unlikely to simply swallow something up because it happens to be nearby. 

For this reason, techniques used for trout, large bottom feeders, and other carnivorous fish simply do not work for bass. These fish require good fishing skills, precise techniques, the right bait and lures, and a lot of patience to catch. 

You cannot catch bass by chance. It requires effort, timing, patience, and skill, far more than most other freshwater fish.

Bass are not impossible to catch, but they are more difficult, making bass fishing so much fun. 

Is It Always Difficult To Catch Bass?

If you have only ever experienced the difficulties of bass fishing, you may wonder if catching these fish is always so difficult or if it is ever easy to catch them there. 

Bass are more challenging to catch than most other freshwater fish, but there are certain times of year and places when it is far easier to catch bass, especially if you do not mind what size you catch. 

The most optimal time of the year to catch bass as easily as possible is during the height of their feeding season, which is the middle of summer. These fish eat far more in summer as they are packing on weight for the lean months, and they need to recoup a lot of the weight they lost during spawning. 

There are also a lot of young bass in the water during the summer months, and these fish are ready to eat as much as they can grow as quickly as possible. If you do not mind catching small bass, there are plenty to catch during the feeding season. 

It is also much easier to catch bass in early spring, just before they spawn in this season. They are packing on weight to sustain the spawning process, and they need the extra sustenance to survive. 

This also makes them far more ready to eat any food they can find, making it much easier to catch them. There are fewer small fish in the water during this time, so there are plenty of large bass to catch during the spawning season. 

Fishing early or late in the day also makes it far easier to catch bass. These fish prefer hunting in the early and late hours of the day, which means they are more likely to take a lure or a hook during these hours. 

Bass are less opportunistic than other fish, except during the main feeding seasons. So be sure to fish where they are, use the food they like to eat, practice your techniques, and fish at the right times, and you will find bass fishing far easier and much less frustrating. 


Bass are tricky to catch, and there are several reasons why they may not be biting. Take the time to explore your options when the bass are not biting and make the necessary adjustments to increase the probability of a bite. 

Bass fishing is frustrating at times, but if you keep focus, remain steady and vigilant, and use the right techniques and gear, you will surely get a bass on the line sooner rather than later.  

Tommy Bull
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