Muddy water usually is accompanied by other factors that affect fishing:

Higher water- When a flood of water enters, water levels rise, flooding shoreline feature.
Increased current- The most productive fishing is in water flowing 7 to 10 mph.
Floating debris- Boating can be hazardous when logs and trees float downstream, but fishing in debris-choked pockets and bends can be great.
Increased oxygen- Oxygen may increase as flow increases.
Water temperature- On a sunny day, brown water warms faster than clear water, an important factor in late winter and early spring.
Forage- Crayfish, insects, worms, and baitfish are dislodged from cover or carried from feeder creeks.
Changes in structure- Some structural changes take place immediately, such as a new tree entering the reservoir. And over time, seasonal flooding sculpts a reservoir or river, eliminating old bass hangouts and creating new ones.
How Bass React To Muddy Water: We mistakenly picture bass as creature at the mercy of their environment. Being cold blooded, bass are affected by water temperature. But as successful predators, bass have learned to adapt and survive in a variety of conditions, including muddy water. Of the many myths concerning bass behavior in muddy water, the most prevalent is that bass leave a muddy environment to find clear water. This implies a mass migration to a clear-running tributary. Bass generally don’t move far in clear water. When visibility is limited, they move even less. How would a bass in muddy water in the middle of the lake know the water was clear a distance away near the dam? When water turns muddy, bass have options.

1. They move shallower. This occurs in reservoirs and rivers. Even smallmouths acclimated to deep-lying structure move shallower when their habitat turns to chocolate milk. Fish can see better in shallow water. One to three feet isn’t too shallow for bass in muddy water.

2. They move closer to objects. Bass in clear water roam from a home base such as a sunken tree or rock pile to find prey. In muddy water, visibility is reduced, so bass tend to hold close to objects. They seek the security of a dock, brushpile, or boulder, perhaps using the object as a reference point. Present lures as close as possible to cover.

3. They move out of increased current. Muddy water and high flow usually coincide. Largemouths in particular don’t prefer fast water. They hold in slack-water pockets, backflows, or behind objects that break current. Smallmouths are at home in rivers, but they also avoid heavy current. Look for them in sloughs or downstream from cover objects.

4. They use other senses in addition to sight. A bass has to see a lure before striking it. Vision is their primary sense even in muddy water, but the lateral line, which can sense vibrations over 10 feet away, becomes more important as visual range is reduced. Bass also use their inner ear to sense sound produced even farther away. Smell is also important in muddy water.

Baitfish Movement: Muddy conditions also affect the location of forage fish as well as bass. Most waters have a threadfin and gizzard shad base. High muddy water pushes these baitfish toward the shoreline. Shad often seek plankton that accumulates in shoreline eddies. They feed more effectively in the thin band of clearer water that typically forms along the shoreline of a muddy river or reservoir. Mud-lines sometimes attract baitfish and bass, but they’re generally overrated. A much more dependable fishing pattern targets bass that move to shallow cover away from fast current.

Pinpointing Targets: In clear water, bass move several feet to strike a lure. But in muddy water, define high-percentage targets and place lures accurately. Try these areas:

1. Shallow points – Reservoirs have many shallow points, but in muddy conditions, fish shallow points that are far from the main river channel, yet close to deep water. The best ones often have bottoms composed of pea gravel, shale, slate, chunk rock, or red clay.

2. Springs – A mixing of clear and muddy water occurs wherever springs enter a river or reservoir. The area around the spring is clearer, so it draws baitfish and bass. But don’t expect a mass migration of fish to clearer water.

3. Shallow flats – An expanse of shallow muddy water warms quickly on a sunny day. During spring, look for creek arms protected from current and wind.

4. Shoreline objects – Bass hold close to stumps, rocks brushpiles, or boat docks.

River Hot Spots:

1. Rocky banks – Fish gravel bars, rip-rap banks, and chunk rock in current. Large rocks deflect current and provide holding spots for bass. Smaller rocks also filter sediment from the water, causing it to clear quickly.

2. Pockets – Current flow is reduced along banks, no matter how shallow. Stumps or logs make spots even better.

3. Eddies – Forage fish concentrate near structure. Spots where current changes speed or direction are particularly good for smallmouths.

4. Shoals – Largemouths concentrate along the lower ends of shoals where current is reduced. Look for smallies at the upper end.

5. Floating debris – Logs and debris are deposited in river bends and behind wing dams. Check these spots for smallmouths.

6. Manmade structure – Wing-dams and dikes concentrate baitfish and bass, especially where structure is adjacent to shallow slack water. In muddy water, bass often hold in shallow spots near a current edge or object.

Lures & Presentations: When visibility is greatly reduced, choose big lures since they are easier for bass to see and catch. Bass seem reluctant to move far from a holding spot, so you want their first swipe at the lure to hook them. When the going gets muddy try:

1. Spinnerbaits – A large spinnerbait is highly visible and produces vibrations fish can sense with their lateral line. For maximum flash and vibration, use a 3/8 to 9/16 ounce black spinnerbait with a single Tennessee blade. If the current is slack, you may want to drop to a ¼ ounce model. You can also tip your spinnerbait with a trailer such as a big pork frog to add buoyancy so you can fish it slower.

2. Crankbaits – A big crankbait with a diving lip is deadly in muddy water, even in very shallow water. Use a slow retrieve to give the bass ample opportunity to find the lure.

By yanam49

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