Why do trout fool around nibbling instead of simply biting?

You probably know the feeling when your line nudges slightly as Mr. Trout begins to nibble at your bait and the ‘ugh!’ when setting the hook and sensing nothing at the end of your line.  Score: You – Zip / Mr. Trout + 1.    Sometimes my whole day is all nibbles and skunkola, but at least I got some action.  This happened yesterday at Santa Ana Rivers Lake with me and my friends.  Here’s my thoughts on why:

  • I used to think city trout were dumb, but actually there are very wary as there is tremendous fishing pressure at city lakes.   So unlike those sierra trout that simply engulf the bait, these city slickers are more careful about what they bite on.
  • If Mr. Trout feel the weight of the sinker or hook they will spit out the bait.  Then how in the hell are we just supposed to catch them then!
  • Mr. Trout thinking that smells and looks good, oh but wait that tastes like the powerbait that got me hooked last time.  Blah. Spit.  Gee, how many flavors and colors of bait in your tackle box?
  • Trout can taste with their lips so they bump their food without actually putting it their little mouth.  I guess they would be chewing on a bunch or rocks all day otherwise.
  • “Drive-bys” as Cedric calls them.  It’s when your line move against the trout’s body when it changed it’s mind and simply run past the line and pulls it along it’s body.  Think of it like a ballistic submarine swimming right along your bait and imagine how loud the bell would ring when it slammed into your rod shattering it into a million pieces!
  • Trout quickly learn from their own mistakes and by observing other fish being taken.  So when they nibble on the bait they may get the ‘uh oh, I remember that one’ and immediately spit it out.  Ok, can’t blame them for that one.

I have come to the conclusion that I am most creative in explaining why I’m not catching fish as it obviously can’t be me.  Or it’s corollary, which is I’m the most brilliant clever fisherman when I’m catching!

What do you think?

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7 Responses to Why do trout fool around nibbling instead of simply biting?

  1. CactusKevin says:

    I saw the cover of a fishing book,
    it said
    “Fish Don’t Have Hands”
    So I guess, when my rod tip is twitching
    (and, since fish don’t have hands)
    Then, the fish has my bait, in its mouth!

    • That makes sense, until you pull up to set the hook and zip. So as any good fisherman, I was trying to think of why trout nibble and don’t take the bait.

      • CactusKevin says:

        I was Trout fishing two days ago, at Lake Laguna Niguel in California.
        Went with two friends, we caught eleven Rainbows in about four hours.
        It was a good time fishing, because we were catching fish too!

        We fished from 7:30 to 11:30 AM. The lake had been stocked, the moon phase was good.
        Most of our fish were around two lbs, and one as large as three and a third pounds.

        We probably “missed” as many as we caught, so your question is a good one.
        “Why trout nibble and don’t take the bait.”

        There are as many opinions as stars in the sky.
        I have one personal observational theory.
        I had a salad last night, with dinner.
        Just love those little cherry tomatoes on a salad.
        Sometimes, they roll off my fork, before I can get them in my mouth!
        When I change tactics, and stab at them with my fork, I have missed my mark.
        The small marble sized tomatoes skitter away unscathed.
        And I have pretty good coordination, and a brain the size of a coconut!

        So, when a fish with no opposable thumbs,
        and a brain the size of a pencil eraser,
        fails to “take my bait.” I think it’s because,
        It was trying, but darn it, it missed its opportunity.

        You must feel the fish on the line before you set the hook.

        That said, it may swing back around and try again.
        So be ready!

    • CactusKevin your cherry tomatoe analogy is hilariouly accurate. As you mentioned, if you don’t feel the fish on the line, don’t set the hook as they swing back around.

      We were at Anaheim Lake for their trout opening a few weeks ago right at the inlet. For the first four hours we couldn’t even get a nibble. Then my friend caught one on green garlic pb. Once we had the right bait, then we caught out limits. Very simliar in size to yours at Laguna Niguel as my stringer weighed 10.0 lbs.

  2. brett gloury says:

    I have been fishing lake wendouree in Ballarat victoria for months. For some reason the brown trout just will not bite. I use a 6 pound line size 12 hook and runing sinker. Iv tried scrub worm,glassies,tuna,peace’s of corn. They just snap at the surface around my lines. Please help me work out why they do that.

  3. Kevin says:

    Brett, Brown Trout are strong for there size and smart. I wish I was up there fishing with you!

    Tip #1 of 25
    Try using a “smaller-lighter” presentation.
    Sometimes trout prefer an small appetizer over a big steak dinner.

    My favorite Trout setup…
    Two pound test line (florocarbon if you can get it!) Then tie on a size 20 trebble hook.
    It is so light, and small, I can barely see to tie the knot!

    Personally, I would rather catch five fish, and have all of them break my line and get away,
    than to sit on the bank of the lake, and not catch anything.

    That said, I have lost fish.
    But, I have been active,
    when others wondered what the heck
    I was doing to be so lucky….

    Try smaller hooks and lighter line,
    you may be pleasantly surprised.

  4. Brian N says:

    You should seriously blog daily. This is awesome. Hell, blog twice a day. I love reading this kind of content.

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