I live in Miami, Florida. I have been attempting to catch fish in a canal near where I live with a light rod, 8lb test mono line, and size 6 and 8 hooks. I have primarily been using night crawlers as bait but have also tried several jigs and crankbaits. When fishing worms I use a float about 1.5 - 3 feet above the hook with enough split shot to make the float vertical in the water.

If I drop my line near the edge I can usually get baby Mayan Cichlids to bite. Other than that though I have not had any luck, not even bites no matter where I cast or what time of day I go. I have seen schools of fish swim right by my bait without even attempting a bite. Sometimes when I am bringing my line in as it drags across the surface of the water a baby Florida garr will chase it and attempt to eat my worm but other than that I have not had any action.

One rare time I casted into the opening of a boat shed and almost as soon as the bait hit the water an adult Mayan Cichlid took it. This was a rare and singular event.

But all that to say, what am I doing wrong? Could my 8lb line be spooking fish or do some fish not have any interest in worms? Maybe using a float is not an effective way to target fish that hang out near the bottom? I know it is hard to say if you are not actually there to see it yourself but I am hoping for some general tips for this type of situation from seasoned anglers. I want to catch some fish that are bigger than the palm of my hands!

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    I remember fishing next to a fence, sticking into the canal. We on one side with our gear, the big fish on the other side jumping out of the water, laughing at us. We never found the solution, sorry.
    – Willeke
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


It would be good to know if you are certain that there actually ARE fish bigger than the palm of your hand in the area. But let's assume that there are. Whenever I come across suspicious fish that won't bite anything, I try two different tactics.

The first and almost always the best is to use live bait - fish, not worms - of some sort. If you see schools of minnows or mullet or something, catch a few. Then hook one on a relatively small hook with no weight or anything else. Lob that near some structure and let it swim about. The hook and the injury will make the fish stand out even if it manages to get back into a school of other bait fish. Predators will zero in on it immediately. The method of hooking can differ depending on the species of bait, but I typically go for something behind the dorsal fin. I've also seen them hooked through a lip.

If I can't get live bait, I'll go "small" with a lure - especially around docks that get a lot of fishing pressure. Big fish (30" striped bass, fore example) will often cruise around docks in the Northeast, but will rarely take much notice of a lure. BUT if I take a small 2-3" clear rubber minnow, throw it on a small belly/worm hook, and toss it in front of one of these, these same fish will often move in and suck it up nonchalantly. Big fun.

  • Thank you for your answer. I do see bigger fish swimming by, they're just not taking my bait. :P What size hook would you recommend for artificial and do you think 8lb line could be spooking fish or is that most likely not an issue?
    – NULL
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 20:41
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    I can't imagine the line is spooking the fish. Even when using the smallest lures I typically use 20lb test or greater fluorocarbon leader. Swivels and snaps can, according to some people, spook fish. Regarding hook size, I'd go with the smallest hook you can get away with... I don't really pay too much attention to the stated size. You just want something that will put the point around half way (or further) down the back of the minnow.
    – That Idiot
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 11:29
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    Fish can definitively get spooked. Assuming that we make the question a bit broader than Florida canals (so as to make it useful for a larger crowd): Your outline against the stuff behind you, your shadow, your line, the line breaking the water surface, the shadow of the line crossing the surface and finally the "taste" (or is it still "smell" underwater?) of your gear can and for some kinds of fish WILL spook them. Take care in your positioning, your gear visibility, the weather, the time of day and the condition of the sea surface when fishing.
    – Stian
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 14:01
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    @StianYttervik Great points. Fishing for native brook trout is more like hunting. Sneaking up to a pool crouching to keep a boulder between you and the pool - only peeking out enough to see where to present - minimizing false casts. And in that case I DO think that the line can spook - to the point where I'd use 1.75-2.5 lb test (8x) tippet material. Shadow is a BIG one - as is the noise you make walking on a dock - I like crocks for creeping noiselessly out onto a dock.
    – That Idiot
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 14:06

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