I was at a cottage on Big Clear Lake near Kaladar, Ontario recently. I caught several largemouth bass from a dock with a simple worm/hook/bobber setup (the hook and bobber were very large):

enter image description here

As a novice fisherman, it seems to me that largemouth bass have two distinct modes:

  1. Extremely hungry. Will bite anything that moves.
    • It doesn't seem to take much skill to catch the bass, other than using a big enough hook and not letting them jump out of the water/spit out the hook.
  2. Or, the bass aren't hungry at all. In fact, I observed the fish being afraid of my worm/hook.
    • The water was clear enough that I could see it happening: I'd cast near the bass and they'd immediately swim away.
    • It seemed like it would take some skill and a very specific setup to entice the bass to attack. Even then, the bass might not be interested.

It certainly appeared that there was no middle ground. Either the bass were at "hunger level 10" or they were at "hunger level 0". No in between.

Are there known reasons why largemouth bass collectively go into non-feeding mode?

It might just be that they're full of food/not hungry. But if that were the case, I wouldn't think the behavior would be so consistent; I would think some bass would be full, while others not full. Instead, it seemed like the behavior applied to ALL bass in the area. Either ALL were biting, or NONE were biting.

  • Was there a big change in weather or is it around breeding time?
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 8:14
  • 1
    Casting near them probably triggers a "flight or fight" response to a potential predator attack - they can't tell your cast from a kingfisher or other predatory bird/animal and you scared them away. This often happens with fish when the water is clear, but not so much when murky. However, I don't know whether this is an issue specifically for largemouth bass.
    – bob1
    Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 19:58
  • @Willeke When I caught the bass in the photo, the weather was overcast/windy/wavy. It's not breeding time.
    – User1974
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


Water temp, pressure, time of year, fishing pressure.

You ever have a summer day where it is just so hot that you just want to not do anything? You just want to lay in the shade. This can happen to fish, the water temp is such that they don't want to move. Fish are also sensitive to air pressure (they will change the depth that they are at depending on the air pressure). Trying to catch something to eat takes energy, bass eat a thing by basically "lunging" at it. So in some conditions, they don't feel the energy expenditure is worth maybe getting whatever a thing is. (There is a chance that what they go for gets away).

There is also the chance that all the "dumb" fish are caught and you are left with the "smart" ones. When the bite is on, there may be fish that will take a bit at anything. It doesn't matter what it looks like, they are going to try and eat it. These are the ones that get caught. Eventually you are left with the fish that are pickier about what they will eat. And so they don't take the bait, literally.

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