Barbs and Backlashes

Clear Water by whitetips
June 3, 2010, 3:54 pm
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: ,

About a month ago I made a post about fishing in waters where the water was high and dirty, .  This past week I spent most of my time fishing interstate lakes, fished 6 different interstate lakes and caught 9 different species of fish (you can see some of that report here,  I know some of you who live in eastern Nebraska might have a hard time believing this, but there are waters in Nebraska that have very good water clarity, all the time.  Most of the Interstate 80 lakes in Nebraska have excellent water quality.  On the last interstate lake we fished last weekend, I was watching a pair of largemouth bass on a spawn bed in at least 8 feet of water!  Clear water presents its own fishing challenges.  I grew up fishing interstate lakes, and over the years I may have an observation or strategy or two that can help you catch fish in clear water.

Not my largest, but an interstate lake smallmouth bass from a few years ago.

I love fishing clear water because you can see the fish!  Duh!  Actually there is a lot you can learn by watching, observing fish, and sometimes I learn something about fish I can see even if I cannot catch them.  In fact it is not at all unusual to see bass, sometimes big bass come cruising by in front of you.  I have come to the conclusion that in small waters those fish, predator fish like largemouth bass in particular, are very aware of their surroundings and I believe they are even somewhat curious.  I believe those big bass may actually come cruising by because they have heard you, sensed some disturbance and they cruise over to see if there is something to eat.  Now, cruising fish are catchable fish.  The fish that are difficult to catch are the ones that are sitting on the bottom or down in cover doing nothing.  Fish that are on the move are generally fish that are looking for something to eat and can be caught.  But of the dozens of big bass I have seen cruise by me in clear water pits and ponds, I can count on one hand the number of those fish I was able to cast to and catch.  I believe they have come cruising by to see what is happening, but they are also very aware and upon seeing some big two-legged predator or some floating platform they shy away.

Those cruising bass that spot you may be tough to catch, but keep in mind that if you saw those fish there are more down the shoreline that you did not see.  You can catch those fish if you do not alert them to your presence.  In clear water situations, I try to make long casts.  And keep in mind that a fish might actually be attracted to the sound of your bait hitting the water.  Be stealthy.  You may laugh at the thought of wearing camouflage while fishing, but if the water is extremely clear I would NOT recommend wearing bright colors; try to wear colors that will match your backround.  Keep your movements to a minimum and be as quiet as possible.  Float tubes are an excellent tool for quietly, stealthily fishing clear waters.  Wear your life jacket!

Fish can see colors and have relatively good eyesight.  They likely do not see details as well as we do, but in clear water they get an excellent look at your presentation and if it does not look like something to eat, they ain’t going to eat it.  Generally, in clear water it is a good idea to down-size baits, use lighter lines (I love fluorocarbon for clear water; fluorocarbon has a refractive index almost identical to water and is as invisible as any fishing line), and use natural baits or artificial baits that look as natural as possible.  Keep it simple, use as few swivels, leaders, weights, hooks, etc. as possible; the more natural you can keep your presentation, the better.  Also keep in mind that during periods when light intensity is reduced, the fish not only are more likely to be actively feeding, but they will have a more difficult time detecting flaws in your presentation.  I will always say that the best time to go fishing is whenever you have time, but if you are fishing clear waters you want to spend as much time as possible fishing when the wind is blowing; when it is cloudy, foggy, or rainy; at dawn and dusk; and after dark.

On clear waters you can catch fish in open water, but pay special attention to any cover objects you find.  Of course every angler knows fish spend a lot of time in and around cover objects, so any type of cover is always a likely spot to catch fish.  Cover of some type may also make it harder for the fish to get too good of a look at your presentation.  They may only see a flash of color or some movement through the cover and immediately capture that potential prey before they are able to see that it is not something natural that they want to eat.

Learn to fish aquatic vegetation!  With clear water most waters will have at least some type of aquatic vegetation.  That aquatic vegetation is some of the best fish habitat you can have and I cannot think of a species of fish that will not frequent aquatic vegetation.  Let me share a peeve of mine–I hate to listen to folks complain about fishing waters that are “too weedy”.  Yes, there can be too much aquatic vegetation in some cases, too much for the health of the fishery, but in most cases there is not too much vegetation as far as the fish are concerned.  In today’s angling world, there is an infinite variety of baits and lures available that can be fished in and through aquatic vegetation with no problem.  Those weedless baits will catch fish, lots of fish, and big fish.  Give me clear water and lots of aquatic vegetation any day!  Those waters produce big fish!


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Here, Here! Love to fish the slop!

Comment by Chris H.

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