Zero winds, bluebird skies...and of course, high pressure. It's happened to all of us. Your pre-fishing days were perfect, the bass were eating just the way you wanted them to eat, you're on a solid bag, and then the morning the money is on the line, Mother Nature changes the entire game for you. While some anglers will simply accept the change in conditions and make the necessary adjustments to get bit, many others will continue to try force feeding the fish into what they were responding well to the 2 days prior. Thoughts like "They were eating this bait like crazy just yesterday! I know they're going to eat it when they turn on." will unfortunately keep a grip on anglers even after going many hours without a bite. Then 2 hours before weigh-in and completely frustrated with an empty livewell, the realization that you stuck to plan "A" way too long sets in and sits in your stomach like a rock. And to top it off, you know damn well that somebody else in the field is going to come in with an impressive bag. There's an old quote that states " The fish are always there. If you came up empty, it just means that you weren't smart enough to figure them out that day." Although that statement is hard to swallow at times, it couldn't be more true. We don't get frustrated at the fish, we get frustrated with ourselves for not being able to figure them out. And being faced with that emotion is something that true hardcore bass anglers can't stand!
So if you can't muster up a reaction strike, plan "B" should include breaking out the spinning gear, downsizing, but more importantly, slowing your drop. A smaller, more subtle presentation that stays in the strike zone longer will definitely up your odds of getting your rod bent. A neutrally buoyant 5"Sick Stick rigged on a 1/16oz Wacky head has a lazy subtle wobble and painstakingly slow fall that allows the bait to stay in the strike zone much longer than baits that are loaded down with too much salt. And when the bass are shut down, that extra time in the strike zone during the drop plays a crucial role in getting bit. Another excellent choice for negative bass is a 3.5" Craw D'oeuvre Texas rigged with a 1/16oz tungsten on a 3/0 light wire hook. This again will give you that super slow drop which you can then top off with an ultra-slow crawling retrieve combined with long pauses. A small craw fish that's barely crawling along the bottom appears as easy injured prey to a bass, which makes it a very difficult meal for them to pass up regardless of their mood. Granted, finesse fishing might not be the most exciting way to fish after great days of power fishing. But recognizing the situation at hand and having the discipline to make the proper changes will get you the results you need. Many times we have to do what we need to do, not do what we want to do.