Even the luckiest amongst us have a dry spell from time to time. It might be something you’re doing or some outside element, but the fish won’t bite. You can blame it on the black cat that crossed your path on the way to the lake, but chances are there’s a more logical explanation. Here’s a selection of the ten most likely culprits.

1. Too Noisy

Your grandpa always said you were making too much noise and scaring the fish away, and he was right. Laughing, joking, having a good time, and making a racket just happens sometimes when you’re out fishing, but it will scare the fish away if you overindulge. Keep it down to a dull roar and you’ll have better luck.

2. Too Hot

Some species of fish absolutely refuse to bite when the water is too warm. The trick to get around this is to try fishing in a deeper thermal plane or find a shady spot with vegetation. Anywhere you find a little relief on a hot day is probably a good bet.

3. Too Cold

Boy fishing in a partially frozen river

Image credits: 27707 via Pixabay

Yeah, we know, if it’s not too hot, it’s too cold, but that’s life. If the temperature is lower than it should be, try keeping your bait closer to the surface. The other good bet, contrary to popular opinion, is to locate some sort of industrial runoff outlet. The water coming out of factories or plants is always warmer than the stuff in the river and has been perfectly clean since the 1970s.

4. Wrong Bait

This one is the classic culprit for fish not biting. The best way to solve the conundrum is to try extremes. Try a synthetic bait, followed by live bait, followed by a spinner, followed by a scented bait. Try, try again, until you find what works.

5. Wrong Time

Some fish bite in the morning, some bite in the evening. Some fish will only come out to play at night. You’re basically stuck hitting a fishing hole over and over again until you figure out the fish’s preferred schedule. The good news is that you have an excuse to do a lot more fishing.

6. Too Crowded

This one is kind of simplistic, but it’s definitely a problem. If there are a bunch of other guys out fishing in a spot, your chances of catching a fish are lowered. This happens a lot around marinas and other places people keep their boats long-term. The best fix is to go your own way and find some privacy, if possible.

7. Too Buggy

A lot of fish species depend on insects for food. When there’s a big bug hatch, they’re more apt to eat the plentiful bounty of nature, as opposed to going for your bait. The fix is to find a bait that mimics the bugs currently on the menu, or switch to a different species of fish until the bug hatch ends.

8. Too Many Predators

We’ve all seen the cartoon where the big fish eats the little fish, and so on, and so forth. In any given ecosystem, some fish are prey and some are predators. When a new predatory species moves in, they eat up all the prey fish that you were formerly catching for yourself. The solution here is to switch to going after the predatory species. Change out your bait and see how the hunter likes being hunted.

9. Wrong Season

Hey, it’s rough, but there’s no fooling mother nature. There are some species of fish that are only active and feeding a lot during certain seasons. There are species of fish that only inhabit certain reaches of rivers during certain seasons. Get to know your local area, ask around, and you’ll soon learn what bites best when.

10. Too Pessimistic

Here at Hook & Bullet, we don’t know you personally, so there’s a chance that you’ve broken too many mirrors, irritated the fates, or offended the universe, but that’s probably not causing your poor fishing luck. It’s easy to get frustrated and give up, but keep plugging. Regardless of the tips you get or the tricks you employ, perseverance is the key to fishing success. Remember, the worst-case scenario is that you spend all day in the great outdoors and swing by the grocery store on the way home. Good luck, and good fishing.


Perhaps the most common cause of fishing misfortune is the simple fact that most anglers don’t spend enough time learning the vagaries of a specific fishing spot. If you take the time to really get to know a lake, a section of the river, or even a patch of ocean, you’ll find your luck improves greatly. Invest the time and you can eventually make your own luck.