Can You Turn a Negative Fish into an Aggressive Biter?
By: Matt Johnson
Maybe — but it can take some real effort.
You have to pull out all the stops and then if
you can’t figure out what to get a reaction
with then it may be time to move. What top
anglers do to get the fish to bite when they
don’t want to…
Fish are simplistic for the most part. They
need to eat to survive. The idea of dropping
down a tiny bite-size morsel for the fish to
eat seems easy enough, but what about
when those fish snub the bait and turn away
an easy meal? Do we just sit it out or tell our
friends the fish are not biting? Definitely not!
It’s time to dive into the bag of tricks and pull
out methods that work…
Oftentimes we are quick to change the size of the presentation we are using,
but you don’t have to always follow the rules. I prefer to change the jigging
action first. I’m a firm believer that every fish will bite if the bait is presented in
the right manner and action. The fish will commit if it feels it has a suitable
dance partner. Change your jigging sequence and you’ll induce hunger. Also
keep in mind the option of changing the direction of movement both up and
down, meaning working the entire water column even when a fish is present on
your flasher. Dropping the bait below a negative fish and holding it motionless
can trigger a strike too.
Breaking away from the live-bait realm can also pay off in dividends. Switching
to a plastic, whether scented or not, can trigger even the most skittish of biters.
The finesse tails available today quiver ever-so-slightly forcing negative fish
into a feeding frenzy. One trick with these finesse tails is to never stop the bait
from moving. I encourage you to keep the plastic constantly quivering even
when a fish begins its staring contest. We are too quick to stop the bait once a
fish moves in and that can sometimes be the biggest mistake we make. Look for
soft and subtle baits and don’t neglect the offerings loaded with tentacles. Yes
they might break off, but when the going gets tough you need to only plan for
one bite at a time.
Another way to entice those negative biters is to keep things natural. By this I
mean offer something in a dark brown, purple, black or blood red in color.
Leave the glows at home and “match the hatch.” The ice fishing community is
so saturated with glow options that we now feel we’re doing something wrong if
we don’t fish them. I’m not saying forget the glows completely, but I challenge
you to try more natural colors when seeking that extra bite. Small blood red
noodle plastics can effectively imitate blood worm. All black jigs can easily
resemble a variety of aquatic insects. These are just a few options of natural
baits, look in your tackle arsenal and find more. Fish simple and slow, give the
fish what they already eat in the natural environment.
Probably the most effective trick when nothing seems to work is to just simply
pack up and move. Moving can mean to a new spot on the lake or to a new lake
all together. Don’t fall victim to sitting in one spot if the fish are not biting. I can
assure you that there are biting fish somewhere, you just have to take the
initiative and go find them. Making small moves across a piece of structure is a
great way to start. Followed by more drastic moves where you take the cruise
across the lake to a whole new pattern. And if all else fails, hop on the road and
attack a new body of water. The old saying “don’t beat a dead horse” can
sometimes ring true when sitting out on the ice. Move and be the mobile ice
angler I know you can be!
While our days might not always be plentiful, we still can expect to catch fish
regardless of the conditions. With a little patience and adjusting, we can entice
even the most negative fish into biting. Change you action, string up a finesse
tail and dust off the black jigs, the fish are waiting!