Suspended Fish-How to Catch Them
Suspended fish can be the bane of any fisherman. Schools of fish appear on the finder but nothing is hitting anything that is thrown at them. Fish can become suspended for a variety of reasons, low pressure moved through or the water temperature is not quite right for them.
When fish are suspended it means that they are in the middle of the water column, and most likely not feeding or very active. Most fish will go into a suspended mode when they are trying to conserve energy. Active fish will appear near the surface or near the bottom depending on outside factors. It can be very difficult and demoralizing being on top of a school of fish and trying to get the suspended fish to strike a bait. Knowing which baits to use and how to present them increases the chances of pulling up suspended fish. After running through a few schools of fish without any luck, or when fishing after a rain remember: Suspended fish S.S.W.L (Small, Slow, White, Live).
When fish are suspended they are not looking for a full meal, they've either gorged themselves before a coming storm or are conserving energy in cooler water. Going smaller makes the bait more palatable to the fish, one of the biggest Pike I caught was on a half inch of a leech and a Lindy Rig. Fish will be more tempted to strike something smaller that will not take as much effort to grab and fight when they are suspended opposed to when they are active and will take the biggest prey available. Once you know the fish are suspended switch to a smaller set up.
Speed plays the biggest role when going after suspended fish. If the bait is traveling too fast the fish will not want to expend the energy to chase after it. With a slower presentation, such as jigging or a slow troll it gives the bait more time near the fish and it presents the bait in a way to appear to be a net energy gain for the fish. Each time a fish feeds it does a mental calculation to determine whether the meal will gain more energy than it expends. When fish are in a non feeding or suspended state that is amplified. Slowing down bait presentation makes the bait worth it to suspended fish.
White lures are the go to color to tempt fish. A simple white jig or white soft bait can be the difference between a day full of fish and a day without a bite. I have found that white with a splash of red is the best combination when fishing low activity fish. The way that many baitfish camouflage themselves, dark on the top and white or lighter bottom. White baits and lures present themselves as injured baitfish, with the added red it sells the injured look making the bait a tempting low energy output snack.
Using live bait gives the advantage of scent as well as the action of distressed prey. Live bait works better than artificial lures when fish are in a suspended state, live bait is more enticing. Live bait can be fished stationary, it does not need to be manipulated as much as a lure does to attract fish and therefore is excellent when jigging or slow trolling. The scent and panicked actions of the minnow or worm or leech will draw cautious and lazier fish than a fast moving crank bait.