Water color the great debate
Depending on where you live in the country and or how you like to fish water color can be a big issue and a big piece of your bass fishing puzzle. Region wise it seems anglers from western and northern states tend to like clearer water. Pit that against those who fish many of the lakes and reservoirs of the central and southern part of the country that would much rather find themselves some stained or dirty water conditions. A big part of this is the fact that many if not most of your western lakes/reservoirs and northern natural lakes are clear and the fish are accustomed to living and feeding in such environments and anglers have learned to fish deeper and more finesse type tactics to catch these fish. This is not to say they never fish shallow. On the other hand, many of the central and southern lakes and reservoirs tend to have more off colored water that is stained to dirty looking. If you asked a northern angler what they considered stained or dirty water he may say if he can’t see his bait down 3-4 feet that it muddy. Whereas an Ohio river rat may be able to see his bait down 18’’ and call it clear. No matter what you call clear, stained or muddy water when it changes you need to change with it. Generally cold (under 50 degrees) muddy water is the toughest condition to fish in but warm that water up to 70 get that flippin stick out and hang on! Clear water fish are for the most part more apt to stop biting with the influx of new muddy water into their area. Clear water fish feed much more by sight that muddy water fish that use their sense of smell and sound to target prey. So as fresh muddy water over takes a normally clear area that the fish are living in it can be tough fishing for a couple of days before the fish adjust to the new situation or move. Many times in a clear body of water the reason it gets muddy is from torrential rains which will cause heavy runoff into the creeks and rivers which then carry the muddy water to the main lake. What will happen once the heavy rains have subsided with the creeks and rivers muddied up and pushing out to the main lake the very backs of the creek are actually clearing up. No longer is there a massive amount of water pouring in it’s down to a slow steady flow that will help push the muddy water out. Now it may take a day or two but it will happen and this is the place you want to start looking for active fish. The same thing can happen on an already stained or muddy body of water. The water that is actually pouring in from the heavy rains though dirty may actually be clearer than the lake water along with bringing in new oxygen these creeks and runoffs can be a great place to find active fish. Mud lines (the area or line in the lake that you can physical see the muddy water pushing the clear water) can also be an excellent place to catch fish as they will use the dirty water to hide themselves from bait fish and ambush them as the swim by in the clear water. Power fisherman (the spinnerbait, squarebill, flipping guys) love stained and muddy water as it allows them to get close to cover use heavier line and target visual pieces of cover. Now the clear water guys not that they won’t or don’t catch fish shallow tend to like to fish deeper water with a bit more of a finesse approach with drop shots, shaky heads, Carolina rigs and casting jigs. They are fishing more of a structure spot rather than a piece of cover, though cover on the right structure is the golden needle in the haystack. When fishing a new lake or even your home body of water start with what you have confidence in. If you follow many of the tournaments, you’ll hear two guys looking for completely opposite looking water conditions. The guy that’s use to fishing clear water is generally looking in the midsection of a reservoir down to the dam where as a power fisherman may be running to the upper end of the reservoir that tends to be more river like and have dirty water color. Which one is better to fish, well that’s the great debate.