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"Fine Tuning Techniques for Tough Bites"
By: Chad Morgenthaler


Call it ďMurphyís LawĒ, but it never seems to fail that when an opportunity finally arises to breakaway from everyday life and enjoy a much needed day on the water, something always seems to happen to make the bite go tough. Itís inevitable. Whether itís pressure from other anglers, or weather conditions, something seems to occur to make the bite much tougher than it should be.

 Iím very familiar with tough bites. Competing as a professional touring angler over the last several years has provided ample opportunity to fine tune my ďtough biteĒ skills.  Iíve picked-up some tips and techniques along the way that I know youíll find useful.

There are a lot of reasons why the bite can turn tough.  Iíve found two of the most common reasons are weather conditions and pressured fish.  The latter is especially true if competing in a tournament and the body of water happens to fish really small.  Itís always possible to be on a huge lake and 80 percent of the anglers end up in the same spot, which adds increased pressure to already stressed fish.  I experienced this scenario last January during an FLW event on Lake Okeechobee .  The last several hurricanes have devastated the lake and everyone showed-up in one of the few areas that was holding clear water and vegetation.   

Fishing in a crowd can be extremely frustrating and not all anglers practice good manners.   This is especially true when youíre around enough fish to do just one person any good, and there are 10 other anglers after the same fish.  At this point separating from the pack is essential.  Try and out smart the other anglers.  Pay attention to how the other anglers are fishing and try something different, even if itís out of the norm.  If everyone around you is throwing a spinner bait or a plastic worm then you need to adjust.  Try throwing something that has a real slow fall to it like a Strike King Zero.   Make long casts and watch for areas that other anglers skipped, or areas that get a rest for more than an hour.  Itís worth a look even if the rested area doesnít have the particular type of structure that fish should typically inhabit. Iíve found that often the pressure from the crowd will move the fish to outer areas where they receive less pressure.  Boat noise is also a huge consideration in crowded situations.  Be as quite as possible when trolling and casting.  Remember, try and be smarter than the average angler, or the surrounding crowd.  Take a look at your surroundings and try to think where you might go if you were a bass and placed in a heavy pressure situation.

One thing is for sure, when the bite gets tough it really causes anglers to bear down and sharpen their mental skills and think outside the box. Under tough conditions anglers receive fewer bites, so refining techniques and equipment is an absolute must.  When I fish in tough conditions I become a perfectionist at what Iím doing.  Itís absolute essential that the right line is matched with the correct rod and that the right hooks are used for the job.  So many bites are missed, or fish are not landed, do to anglers not pairing the correct equipment together.  Itís vital in tough conditions to always evaluate your equipment and make sure everything is operating in top notch condition. 

Slowing down and scaling down is also very beneficial when the bite gets tough.  Whether fishing a finesse worm on a shakey head with 8lb line and a Kistler spinning rod, or flipping a Bitsy Flip finesse jig into heavy cover with Maxima fluorocarbon line and a heavy rod, have everything dialed-in.  Make sure that if given the opportunity fish are not lost. Instead, be prepared and capitalize on the situation.   It takes practice to slowdown and scale down, but itís worth the rewards. 

Besides analyzing your equipment, itís also important to find a really good location.  Knowing and understanding the fish and their patterns is a must during tough days.  Pay attention to the time of year, if the bass are pre spawn itís important to look for protected areas on the Northeast side of the lake toward the coves.  If the bass are post spawn first look for fry pods.  Be aware that the males will guard fry in and around heavy vegetation.  During post spawn conditions the larger females start their migration toward the main lake and stage-up on the lay downs, stumps on the points, or at the edge of the deeper vegetation.

Realizing how fish relate to current is also essential during post spawn conditions.  Look for wing walls, or turn on your Lowrance GPS/Sonar unit and identify structure, such as submerged brush piles.  Remember, anytime there is current running in a river system or lake, there will more than likely be bass hanging around structure waiting for a tasty meal to wash by. 

In order it have a productive day on the lake during tough bite conditions itís crucial to be aware of your surroundings.  Make sure equipment is in top condition and that line, rods and baits are paired correctly. Scale down and slowdown.  Stay focused and clear headed so when the bite comes capitalize on it   Think outside the box when fishing in heavily pressured or crowed situations.   Offer the fish a different presentation and search out pockets or areas that have received rest.   Know the pattern the fish are in and learn the lake so you can identify productive areas.   Keep all of these tips in mind when the bite goes tough and it will make the day much more enjoyable.

A special ďThanksĒ to all of my sponsors: Jasper Engines and Transmissions, Yamaha Motors, Ranger Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Svanda GM Motor Group, Maxima Line, Kistler Rods, Minn Kota, Plano , Mr. Blitz and Nameoki Village Marine.

Make sure and log onto my web site and signup for my fan club.  E-newsletters are forwarded monthly and one lucky winner each month receives a prize.  Tournament summaries are posted after each tournament and pro tips are updated every two weeks.  Itís a great source of bass fishing information.