Suspending Fish, and Baits

For our purposes, suspending or “Neutral Buoyancy” means a fish or bait that is somewhere in the water column, not rising, not sinking, that is camouflaged, and one that has adjustment capability.

Suspending Fish.

When a fish suspends, maintaining that position comes from adjustment within their gas bladders and small movements of their fins. When a fish suspends it’s for a reason and more times than not is probably food related. There is something there, or time implanted operant conditioning tells them something will be there that attracts them.

There are apparently qualified studies that say suspending fish are “just there” Some say Suspended fish are inactive and are not catchable when we put lures near them. But these studies don’t speak to the presentation of lures in detail, therefore these studies are incomplete. I propose there are no fish that are “uncatchable”.. . . There are only fishermen that don’t know, don’t want to take the time to learn how to catch them.

Sometimes the position of the fish with relationship to structure/cover, plus the straight line movement from one location to another can spell active fish even though no activity of baitfish are seen nearby.

My answers to these studies are : You are teaching me now, so I want to hear how far spread your observations were, and under what controlled conditions you did the observation. What were the other, maybe unseen factors that were present - speculation allowed.


Maybe there's new ground here. Do fish sleep? Not as we do. But maybe hazed out for short periods? In the wild, if you asleep as we do, you are eaten.

To me, suspending fish can't be inactive simply because they are using more of their faculties to suspend. They can’t do that and sleep. Given the energy waste, for promised of energy gain from eating formula, they wouldn't be doing that unless the assurance of filling their reserve tanks wasn't greater than the effort expended.

Nothing in the wild goofs off for long. Placing yourself in there predicament, it just doesn't make sense to do so. May I be so bold as to ask you to look beyond what you have learned in all your formal education and subsequent following wisdom, and get in touch with the basic primal stuff of life?

Remember, “Suspending” can be an inch off the bottom or several yards. It can also seem to mean out in the middle of nowhere, mid-lake, with no rhyme or reason behind it. Fish in clear water, also suspend to be still and be camouflaged in plain view. In many cases movement is the only thing that gives the camouflaged fish away.

Suspending fish which are off of a main lake point a good distance usually means migrating bait fish or bait fish after the rising or sinking plankton blooms. It can also mean a water temperature induced comfort zone, or even something as simple as a place where the available light penetration is more conducive to congregation of plankton rise, fall, or drift. It can mean all these things and more. However, suspending fish, regardless of educated or uneducated skeptics, usually means more active fish. No wild thing ever goes anywhere or wastes energy for long without the promise of a refill.

Suspending fish are harder to target because it is harder for us to keep our bait in their fish catching zone as long as you need to in order to catch them. Then, your presentation has to be refined to match what the fish feel is natural for the time.

Suspending Baits

Unfortunately this term is a misnomer. No bait is ever going to be neutrally buoyant under any circumstances unless it has an adjustable gas bladder. . . Million Dollar Idea?

Be that as it may, buy one that is suppose to suspend. All so called “suspending baits” will actually rise or sink slowly at "some" rate. How fast or slow they rise or sink is mainly up to you and aftermarket adjustment to conditions you are about to encounter. Obviously, when considering the word “suspending” the slower the rise or fall the better. We need to keep in mind, water temperature and water pressure affects of neutral buoyancy; cold water is more dense than warm water. This not only applies to summer vs. winter fishing, but it applies to the depth at which you run your lure.

Adjusting the rate of rise and fall of suspending baits.

Apply clear coat or other paint - Suspend Dots - Staples and Nails - Drilling Holes - Filling Holes - Hook Size - Hook Weight - Line Type - Line Weight Line Size - Amount of line out per cast - Shaving the Diving Bill . I’m sure there are others.


Maybe your experience is different, but mine says to have Large Mouth and Small Mouth, or Spotted Bass together in the same place in the lake is a bit unusual for most lakes. The range and habits of these fish do cross from time to time. But, to hang out together for any period of time as a natural option, is unlikely. One of the main reasons for this is that Small Mouth and Spots are more aggressive and will eventually get to all the food before the comparatively slower Large Mouth.

Jiggling a spoon slowly in the faces of suspending fish works well. Tail or other spinners, deep water Drop Shotting, picking a crank bait that can dive to a specific depth and suspend, or even Float & Fly, Slip Bobber techniques, etc. also work well. The secrets are to know that any bait or bait chaser is in that area for a relatively short period of time, and the bait chasers are probably looking for something specific. The bait, is moving through the area.

Therefore, your lure may not get the attention you intend if you don‘t present it properly. In fact, it may cause alarm amongst the fish you are after because the bait choice and presentation is not what it should be. Ask yourself , what does the bass normally see happening with the “stuff” they are out there to get to begin with? Sometimes erratic bait movement works. If that move is too erratic, or too out of sync with what the predator sees, it only serves to scare fish away.

My advice would be to see if you can spot what the bass are after. Doing this can sometimes be tougher than spitting into the wind. But, therein lies another secret; using the wind for Boat Control. See what you can do to spot the prey and clock it's movements. This will tell you something about the speed, direction , and depth at which you should present your lure. If you are industrious enough, or lucky enough to net or snag a bait fish, you will then know what they look like in terms of coloration and size. Make your bait match, but slightly stand out from what is down there. Try to fish the perimeter of the bait school . . . remember, that bait schools have four edges . See “Edges and Ledges” for further clues to success. Do it right and “Hang On“.