Managing the Short Bite with Anthony Kulis
A short bite occurs when a fish comes up, softly hits the bait, then backs off. Don’t confuse this with the dink bite. With the dink bite, the small fish comes up to tear off a piece of food from a bigger bait by shaking his head. You can tell the dink bite because the tip of the rod shakes. A short bite will barely bend the rod, but it’s a smooth pull down, unlike the dink bite. Both are frustrating but identifying which is which is important.
The good news about a short bite is that you give it a few minutes and the fish will come back and short bite again. The bad news is that the fish can do this several times before it decides to commit. This could take up to an hour just to find out if it is not the pig you marked, but sometimes the reward is worth the wait.
The first thing to do when you suspect the short bite is to measure the time between short bites. In my experience, the short bite intervals are around 7 minutes. If your bait hasn’t been touched in the interval, it’s probably a bigger fish deciding if it wants to eat. The dink bite will happen continuously, with maybe a minute or two in between headshakes at most.
I have found it takes 5 or 6 short bites before the fish decides to commit. Using my 7 minute rule of thumb, that takes around 35 to 40 minutes before you will see a behavior change. After that period of time, expect the interval between bites to shorten. When it does, the takedown should happen soon.
If the interval doesn’t shorten, you can either wait a bit longer or you can move on. At some point, you can’t just waste all day for that one bite. Repeating the pattern that found this short biting fish elsewhere might find active fish. Having to make the call to move off of a fish is tough. With time on the water, you will develop a sense of when it’s time to move on.