As far as deep water fishing goes there are two approaches an angler can take. One is reaction baits such as crankbaits, spoons, and swimbaits, while the other is fishing slow moving baits on the bottom. With reaction baits the bite is simple, they slam the bait and there is no doubt a fish is on the line. However with the slow moving approach the bites can be very finicky at times and extremely difficult to detect. In this quick tip I want to identify the different types of bites you will feel while fishing a slow moving bait in deep water.
This might seem like a silly article that is simple and obvious but the truth is a large number of bites in deep water go undetected to the untrained hand or eye. Of course having quality equipment is essential but aside from that having an understanding of exactly what you are feeling on the bottom is the key.
Mushy Pressure Or Lost Bait Contact Bite
One of the most common bites you will feel while fishing in deep water is no bite at all. When fishing a bait in 15 feet of water or more there is a good bit of distance between you and a fish that picked up the bait at the end of your line. Often you won't even ever feel the actual bite because fish often grab the bait while it is sitting still on the bottom in between working the bait and picking up your slack line. Sometimes fish that pick up the bait while you are not feeling the bait will pull the other direction easily letting you know that it is time to set the hook, but more often then not all you will feel is a mushy sensation in your rod or you all of a sudden won't be able to feel your bait at all. If I'm fishing a bait and all of a sudden I have lost total contact with my bait and the bottom I pick up line as fast as I can and slam down with a hard hookset. Fish will often pick up a bait being fished on the bottom and immediately swim the bait off of the drop or edge you are casting up on to. If you wait to long to set the hook you risk allowing the fish to swallow the bait, or deciding to spit it out. If you don't pick up your line fast and bring up enough slack before you set the hook you won't be able to drive the hook into the mouth of the fish. This mushy pressure or nothing at all bite can definitely be tricky at first but the feel can be mastered if you are aware of the potential of having it happen!
Thump And Run
Other bites while fishing deep are often easier to detect where a fish will aggressively thump the bait and begin to pull in the other direction. If this happens I like to drop my rod tip putting just a small amount of slack in the line before I slam the hookset home. Just remember fish don't have hands so when you feel that tick and the fish begins to pull away from you it has the bait in it's mouth, often if you feel a second thump that will be the fish releasing the bait which means you didn't set the hook soon enough.
The key really is no matter what type of bite you feel you need to pick up your slack properly, slightly drop the rod tip and then pop that hook through the meat or bone in the mouth. Be prepared and be ready to feel these different types of bites and when the opportunity presents itself don't miss out. For added sensitivity try putting your index finger on the line where it comes out of the reel, this can really help you to feel subtle bites, and also don't forget to watch your line with your eyes as well. If you do this right your fish catching percentage in deep water will go through the roof.
I'll see you on the water!!!