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.
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.
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
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.
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.
I was trying to improve my bait, so I made two adjustments:
Changed the upper willow blade for an over sized Colorado blade
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 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.
Thank you for reading and keep those lines wet!