The heavy rains in California have been a blessing these past few weeks. Almost half of the state is out of drought and the lakes are looking as healthy as ever. Although water levels have risen, water clarity has fallen remarkably. Anglers who don’t understand how fish act in muddy water conditions may shy away from fishing for a few weeks, but there are plenty of bass to catch if you have the right mindset.
Here’s our little breakdown for fishing muddy water conditions.
Find Clear Water First, If Possible
Just because the water is muddy in some areas doesn’t mean the entire lake is doomed. If you’re in a boat don’t stop searching for cleaner waters until you’re sure there’s none left. Keep in mind that the mud and debris only reach a certain depth – what’s muddy on top could still have clear water underneath if it’s deep enough. If clear water is nowhere to be found, it’s time to change up the game plan.
Locating Bass in Muddy Water
Bass will usually hold to shallow structure when water clarity is low. If you’re fishing rising water conditions, there are most likely bushes, timber and other structure along the bank submerged underwater. Try to find irregularities in shallow structure. If the bank consists of bushes, find isolated bushes or ones that stick out further than the rest. Same goes for logs and rocks as well. Bass will key in on submerged structure that create gaps, points and other variations.
Key Lures for Fishing Muddy Water
Keep three things in mind when trying to entice bass in muddy water: flash, contrast and vibration. If the water is in the shallow 1-5ft range, flashy lures work the best. Once you get into the deeper water levels then flash won’t work as well as contrast and vibration.
To help you grasp this concept, here are five key lures for fishing muddy water.
A spinnerbait has always been a muddy water staple. It provides both flash and vibration, making it easy for bass to hone in on your lure. If you’re fishing shallower water you can use a Willow leaf spinnerbait, but if the water is deeper or extremely murky then a Colorado blade is better. The Colorado blade allows you to slow-crawl the spinnerbait while creating much more vibration.
For a flashy presentation use any white, chartreuse or orange spinnerbait. If you’re going for contrast nothing beats the black and blue combo. Gold or chartreuse Willow leaf blades will give off the most flash whereas a black Colorado blade is perfect for contrast.
2. Squarebill Crankbait
If you’ve ever watched Kevin Van Dam fish muddy water, he’s always got a squarebill crankbait on deck. Squarebill cranks are a great way of covering shallow water quickly, allowing you to work an area with efficiency. A squarebill crank will cause more ruckus than a spinnerbait if there’s rocky bottom available – the bait will bash against the rocks and create more vibration.
Definitely go bright with the squarebill crankbaits. Any chartreuse/black back combination is usually the staple for muddy water and powder blue/chartreuse is also a great one. Don’t leave out the bright craw colors either! Bright red/orange cranks work just as well.
A chatterbait (aka bladed swim jig) is another great way to put off extreme vibration. The blade in the front allows you to fish the bait through heavy brush, timber and other structure where a crankbait would usually snag. It’s pretty hard to beat the loud clacking noise of a chatterbait in muddy water.
You can go either bright or dark with these baits. White or chartreuse work well for flash while black/blue and black/purple will provide maximum contrast. Both are effective in any situation, so see which one you have more confidence with.
Flipping a jig around submerged cover is absolutely deadly for pulling bass out of muddy water. The bulky presentation of a jig and trailer works wonders when launched into the backs of bushes, timber and other snaggy structure. For flipping use an Arkie head jig and for slow dragging try a standard football head jig. For added noise and vibration you can add small rattles to your jig as well. Can’t hurt, right?
We definitely go dark when flipping jigs in muddy water. Black/blue should be a staple in any box, and we’ll keep it as simple as that! Creature baits that flap often make the best trailers. Our favorites are the Strike King Rage Tail Craw and Netbait Paca Craws. The traditional pork trailers are awesome as well.
5. Draggin’ A Worm
Dragging a big 10-12” worm has always been effective for dingy water. Beefy soft plastics like the Zoom Magnum Trick Worm or 10” Berkley Power Worm in straight black color are the go-to for many anglers. You can either rig them weightless and throw around shallow structure or peg a bullet weight in front for deeper water situations. Make sure to put scent on your worms and drag away!
We hope this helps you gain a better understanding of fishing muddy water. The chocolate milk situations may not be the best confidence booster but there are definitely fish out there ready to eat. Work each area thoroughly and you’ll definitely land a few decent largies.
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