Low Clear Water vs High Muddy – Quick Solutions
In the previous article we discussed tactics for high turbid water conditions, including choosing alternative water sources such as tributaries to large rivers that may be less affected to seasonal rainfall. If you do fish turbid water, I like to start out by making a ruckus on the surface.
I’ll use poppers or divers and try to get the fish’s attention by causing a major disturbance on the water. If the fish are neutral to positive, many times this will work like ringing the dinner bell. Other times, depending on their mood, they’ll ignore and sometimes even spook with too much commotion.
It won’t take long to determine if the noise-maker strategy will pay off. Divers are very useful here since they leave a long bubble stream and really mix things up – which can trigger big fish. In dark water, try bright colors first when fishing subsurface. Yellow, chartreuse, orange with lots of sparkle will show up well. The Big Bass/Pike Assortment has a nice collection of big divers and noisemakers.
When fishing dingy water, if bright does not produce, try something black, purple, or brown (something dark). Dark patterns do display well in turbid conditions, but you should try different variations of stripping to see what will work.
Clear Low Water
Many of you are in the midst of a drought with your rivers and streams at historical lows. Obviously stealth is paramount when approaching clear waters or you will most certainly spook most of the fish. Stay low and proceed very slowly.
Look for deeper holes where you cannot see the fish. This is where most of them will be. When fishing deeper holes you must get down to the fish. Recently we employed Clouser-like flies with dumbbell heads to probe the deep holes in a gin clear river. Sure enough, nice fish were stacked in the holes (although you couldn’t see them) and would readily hit a minnow pattern fished deep enough to allow them to remain in their comfort zone.
If you have an over-hanging grassy banks with enough water below (probably 2 – 3 feet) and shade, you can try hitting the banks on the clear streams with hoppers. A gently placed hopper touching down, just inches from the bank, can bring up bank-huggers waiting for just such an opportunity.
When fishing hoppers, try to dead drift them at first. Slight twitching can be the trigger on some days adding a little life to the fly. Bass taking hoppers will normally suck them in just like a trout. All you’ll see is the fly disappear in many cases – this is truly a cool scenario – catching bass dry fly fishing – just like trout!
High or low, get out there now and catch some fish!