Why Do Fish Bite?

Cuz thur hungry!!!


Heck, everybody knows that. If you want to catch fish, you try to go when you think they are feeding and you try to give them what they like. Now, whut could be more logical than that? I don't believe that there is a Grandmother on the face of this planet that would not have answered that correctly.

What fishermen have to do is break that fundamental, logical truth down into elements that can be understood and worked with. This is, of course where everyone gets into trouble with their fish'n. I don't suppose I'll be much different but I'm going to try to get it as right as I can ...........

Now, fish get hungry just like anybody else. They are a cold-blooded creature so are a little different that us guys who have to eat a couple times every day throughout our lives.

But here are some of the things that should be considered when talking fish food:

We'll talk about all of these things and probably more below.

Type Of fish.......


There's a whole lot of fishes swimming around in the waters of the world but I think they all have one thing in common, they get  hungry and feed. We are concerned mostly with just the fish's hunger and not so much when he is hungry. There are fish that feed on the bottom of a body of water, fish that feed on the top, fish that feed everywhere in between. There is all kind of climatic zones and local habitats and so forth that harbor and provide cover for fish so consequently you will find certain fishs in certain places. When you know what kind of fish you're going for, getting ready for them is job one. Once you know what fish you're going for, other conditions come into play.

Time Of Day......

If fish has made up his mind he's hungry, sort of hungry, or just so-so the next thing is to try and arrive at the fish's habitat at the time of day (24 hrs) when you think he is most likely to feed. This means trying to schedule the fish into your scheme of events. If you can go anytime, choose that time of the night or day when you believe the fish will be the most active and feed. I never fished at night much but my experiences can be equated to nights, I believe. I assume our laws have no affect on night fishing but some park areas may restrict night movement. Some fish may prefer feeding at night and if they are the ones you are after, well ...... I guess you should go when its night, then, right?

It has been my experience that there are 4 periods during the day when fish are likely to feed. Some periods see more feeding than others because of solar effects but the 4 periods are sunrise, morning 'angle of incidence' on the water, afternoon 'angle of incidence' and sunset. The 'angle of incidence' used here is the angle at which the rising sun's rays are not reflected from the water but enter it (and light up the interior like a Christmas tree) and the setting sun's rays reflecting from the water (and darkening the interior). There are many variations of light penetration, etc throughout the day with short periods of transition if no wind or if there is good chop to the water, extended periods of changing light. Cloudy days reduce this effect, also and is generally better fishing than clear skies, for instance.

So, you should consider some of these things when you choose the time you will fish. Schedule one of those 4 periods into the middle of your trip, if possible.

Weather Conditions........

I touched on this item in the preceding but will give it elaboration here. Local weather conditions does not by itself cause fish to feed. It will have a BIG effect on how hard or how long they will feed. In other words if it is a good fishing period and everything else is positive, the right kind of weather will make the difference between just so-so catches and monster bags.

I have seen this repeatedly. If everything lines up, you get time to fish and in a good period, and you suddenly get some good local weather, generally approaching, stormy weather, you can't pack the fish you'll catch. Its almost as if the fish know that  their normal feeding cycle may be cut short by violent weather and they feed like crazy trying to eat enough in the shortened time to compensate for the lost feeding time.

If you should happen to time your fishing excursion so that you are at the habitat ready to go when these gears mesh, you'll do well, if not you'll bring home fish but not like you could have, so watch the barometer. And for some reason, I have never caught a mess of fish when the wind was in the north. I've caught'm when in the east but never when in the north.

What’s Available To The Fish.......


Its assumed that the fish in the hole has something he is feeding on. At least something that he prefers above others. If its just a temporary item like May flies or some such thing that will provide food for the fish for just a very short time, then you should know what it is and when it generally takes place if you are going to capitalize on what's available for the fish to eat. A good fisherman should always have some kind of knowledge in this regard. But if he's in unfamiliar waters .........
Generally, we'd call that 'experience' but I was always at a loss when someone was catching fish pretty good somewhere and when I looked into the old tackle, could find nothing similar to what the 'other guy' was catching his fish with. So a guy should make an attempt to find out what the local action is before you track to a strange place. One way to be prepared is to make sure you have a few basic, proven lures and baits which fish have hit before in similar circumstances.

Know the fish you're after and what he's feeding  on and then try to match that. Consider the clarity of the water, the    sunlight, the cloud cover and don't forget that the fish is generally looking up at the sky. That's one reason they say to use light lures during the day and dark ones at night. The light lures show up on the blue sky and at night the black shows against the starlight, etc. I follow that religiously and it works. We have used dark purple or even black after sunset and before sunrise - conversely, we use white, yellow, glistening during the day and varying shades in between. Having a lunker bass hitting a big black hula popper or jitterbug on top of the water just a few feet away after darkness has set in will wake you up, guaranteed!

I do not do much fishing in deep bodies of water but my guess is that you'd fish light colors near the top and progressively    darker to the darkest at the bottom. Florescent pink or green is a  good color for northern waters and works well around Iowa, too. Shiny metallic works well here also. I had good luck in Seward Alaska fishn for salmon with a plain 'ol white spoon with red stripes. Just throw it over the side of the boat and let it follow behind.

Heck, a buddy from Racine, WI and I were out fishing at Rathbun and trolling some minnows over the back of the boat and when we made a the turn at the end of this run, his line became tangled in the propeller prop and broke off. He re-rigged and we kept fishing and pretty soon I saw this fish .... like he was trailing the boat probably 150-200 ft behind the little boat we were in and so we stopped to see if he was hooked to the boat and he were! So we felt down by the prop and there was Dave's line wound around the prop and played out behind the boat and the fish, a nice crappie had hit the thing and hooked himself. We didn't even know the line was there and almost didn't investigate the fish following us.

So, if the bait is similar to what he's feeding  on, your chances of catching him is pretty good regardless of how the lure  is played and so on. In a so-so fishn period, you may have to work at it but if they're hittn, hey, don't waste time.

Baits Available To  The Fisherman........


This item follows very closely to the preceding  and comes into play if something occurs that would prevent the fisherman from choosing his optimum baits. If he can't get the recommended baits or the baits he thinks will do the job, just choose the next very best thing to them. Always remember that just because the baits are there on the rack or in the tub of the "bait shop", it doesn't necessarily mean the establishment's  management knows any more about your fishing than you do. Choose the baits  according to a few basic rules you have and which worked for you before and  you'll be ok.

Fisherman’s Preferences........


I stuck this in there because there are no 2 guys fish exactly alike. Some are young and patience is short and they'll  prefer fast lures, older guy may have a little more patience and can fish lighter lures and baits. There may be problems with eyesight or dexterity problems with fingers of some of the older fishers and tying and baiting hooks should be considered. Take these things into consideration when choosing the types of lures and baits. If tying is a problem on site, then do as much preparation as you can before you get to the site. Purchase your lures and baits with this in mind.

Then there is the matter of fishn the baits. There will be times when baits should be fished fast and times when they may have to be fished slower. Depth of the bait should meet the fish’s expectations. Considering these options the fisherman may have a little leeway to use his personal preference, but if the other guy is catching fish and you aren't, don't be so proud and sneak in 2-3 yourself and if it works well, what the hay, convert to his style! 

Ernest Conger     6/14/2013                  mailto:genecongx@gmail.com                   Return To List

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