Dark and Dirty Fishery

Dark and Dirty Fishery

What do you do when your fishery rises, and the water becomes like chocolate milk?

In the winter of 2018-2019, I had to figure out how I still could catch bass under these conditions, and I will take you through some of my experiences.

That first session is always so much fun as you don’t know what to expect. I started with a c-rig and didn’t get much action, but I was able to catch bass. The spots available from the bank are heavily pressured, and almost every bass ends up in a cooking pot. So, I was happy with the little amount of action though I was thinking about how to increase it.

My first bass of the reckoning trip caught with my new SURVERY rod from Gamakatsu on a c-rig with a 7,5” black/green tail worm from Bass Assassin.

My first bass of the reckoning trip caught with my new SURVERY rod from Gamakatsu on a c-rig with a 7,5” black/green tail worm from Bass Assassin.

Just slowly reeling in the c-rig to keep my soft bait in the strike zone.

Just slowly reeling in the c-rig to keep my soft bait in the strike zone.

It took some time to get a second bite... 4,5” Komodo claw in the camo-perch pattern.

It took some time to get a second bite... 4,5” Komodo claw in the camo-perch pattern.

After a short photo-shoot it was released.

After a short photo-shoot it was released.

There were a lot of dragonflies around, and my wife Zainab amused herself with taking beautiful shots of them.

There were a lot of dragonflies around, and my wife Zainab amused herself with taking beautiful shots of them.

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During my second short reckoning session, I started throwing a spinnerbait close to the banks. It didn’t take long before I caught a bass with a redhead ½ oz spinnerbait, but that was the only action. The dirty water kept me riddled; my logic told me it is just too hard for the fish to see anything, so it has to rely on other senses.

A nice chunk caught less than 1 m from the bank.

A nice chunk caught less than 1 m from the bank.

Very dirty water, almost no visibility, less than 3 inches; those were the conditions that I had to deal with.

Not only the dark water but also the amount of debris was an issue. 

After coming home with not much to show for and not much action on the other side of my line, I started researching about dirty water conditions.

Things I should pay attention to:

  • Bass will cruise close to the banks

  • They will rely more on their lateral line

  • Close to obstacles

  • Shallow areas

  • Next to logs, rocks and other structures

After watching some videos, I got new inspiration and planned my first belly boat session. The day started very tough, there is a lot of poaching and especially on the banks that are easy to access, so I decided to cross the reservoir.

Immediately my effort was rewarded, and I got the first bite, which shot loose, but the adrenaline gave me back my focus.

When the visibility is so bad, fish tend to stick to the bank just like a person in a smoke-filled room trying to orientate his or her way out. A bass does the same, and they will stick to a tree trunk or a bank, or a rock. Knowing this, I kept casting my bait only a few inches from the bank, slow-rolling my bait.

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Bumping into the branches and the scattered debris was the best way to get their attention. Doing so, I never hooked into so much wood, stumps, branches, and debris. But it was the best way to get a hook-up.

My favorite lure was a ½ or ¾ oz spinnerbait as I wanted to fish it close to the bottom and bump into the structures, lighter ones rise to easy. I loved using a big size Colorado blade as it creates way more vibrations than a willow blade. This bait also worked best and caught my biggest bass in the dark and dirty reservoir.

This beauty weighed 5.40 lbs. and was hiding in less than 3 feet of water, near the point behind me. I was able to catch three bass during my first float tube session, and this bass made my day!

This beauty weighed 5.40 lbs. and was hiding in less than 3 feet of water, near the point behind me. I was able to catch three bass during my first float tube session, and this bass made my day!

Take a closer look behind me to the scattered debris along the bank!

Take a closer look behind me to the scattered debris along the bank!

The second trip it took me five hours to get action but stoked I was with this 5.32 lb. bigmouth.

The second trip it took me five hours to get action but stoked I was with this 5.32 lb. bigmouth.

I managed to catch three bass on my second session, and I had to be satisfied with that.

I managed to catch three bass on my second session, and I had to be satisfied with that.

A 4” BBZ Shad fast sink sexy lavender pattern seduced another 5-pounder close to the bank in less than 1m water, which measured just over 20 in.

A 4” BBZ Shad fast sink sexy lavender pattern seduced another 5-pounder close to the bank in less than 1m water, which measured just over 20 in.

I kept changing techniques and baits; here I was successful with a Carolina-Rig.

I kept changing techniques and baits; here I was successful with a Carolina-Rig.

5.43 lb. another victim of a spinnerbait.

5.43 lb. another victim of a spinnerbait.

I planned to head out to a long flat, when I arrived at that bank it was impossible to throw a spinnerbait and not get hung up over the spot I knew bass could be using. So, even with a strong wind, I switched to a weightless white Fat Ika.

I planned to head out to a long flat, when I arrived at that bank it was impossible to throw a spinnerbait and not get hung up over the spot I knew bass could be using. So, even with a strong wind, I switched to a weightless white Fat Ika.

The Iris Ambush spinnerbait from Spro NL comes with an extra blade.

The Iris Ambush spinnerbait from Spro NL comes with an extra blade.

I was trying to improve my bait, so I made two adjustments:

  1. Changed the upper willow blade for an over sized Colorado blade

  2. Add an extra chartreuse skirt

When I cast and retrieved the bait, I immediately noticed more vibrations on my rod-tip.  

Eventually, my perseverance was rewarded with a beautiful fish of 21.1 inches on the first try-out with the improved spinnerbait.

The vibrations of the Colorado blade made it easier for this hog to find my lure.

The vibrations of the Colorado blade made it easier for this hog to find my lure.

This bass of 5.80 lb. gave me confidence that the changes were an improvement in chocolate-colored water.

This bass of 5.80 lb. gave me confidence that the changes were an improvement in chocolate-colored water.

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Catch and release, on this shallow flat the pimped spinnerbait triggered this 4.76 lb. bass.

Catch and release, on this shallow flat the pimped spinnerbait triggered this 4.76 lb. bass.

The next session, I fished the front part of the reservoir; I had to be happy with one bass of 21.25,” and she weighed 5.17 lb.

The next session, I fished the front part of the reservoir; I had to be happy with one bass of 21.25,” and she weighed 5.17 lb.

The sudden rise of the water wasn’t a good condition to catch numbers, with the few fish I had to be satisfied. The bass clearly wasn’t as active as normal.

Sunshine will warm up the dirty water faster than clear water, so higher water temperature kept the bass a little bit active. Cold and dirty water is one of the most difficult conditions to catch bass.

The sight is so poor that they have no other choice than to rely on other senses.

The bass will feel every movement, and they will rely a lot on the lateral line to find anything in their neighborhood. Noisy and vibrating baits are just superior to activate big bass.

Carefully I searched for a spot to come ashore to stretch my legs and eat lunch while enjoying the surroundings of this human-made lake.

Carefully I searched for a spot to come ashore to stretch my legs and eat lunch while enjoying the surroundings of this human-made lake.

Thank you for reading and keep those lines wet!

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