Bulking Up For Dirty Water Bass
A lot of people cringe at the thought of fishing a lake with pea soup colored water, I’m talking lakes that swallow secchi disks alive. I’ve grown to love this particular situation as most of the biggest bass I have boated were plucked straight out of the darkness. Don’t be overwhelmed, simply bulk-it-up and get the camera ready.
The first thing I do is up-size everything; braided line, powerful rods and the biggest, nastiest jig combo you can put together. Now I don’t necessarily mean the heaviest jig you own, but instead the biggest and bulkiest profile. The majority of your bites will come on the fall with this type of presentation. I prefer a 1/4oz or 3/8oz jig which allows me to slow down and keep that lure in the strike zone longer. Matching the perfect trailer to your jig will maximize your efficiency and draw in those big bites.
Bass depend on sight, scent, and sound to survive. Taking away #1 means it’s important to heavily exploit those remaining senses. Bass “hear” more so by feeling and picking up vibrations through their lateral line. Bulk those jig profiles up with large soft plastics that move a lot of water, giving off a ton of vibration. Some of my absolute favorite trailers for this application include: Berkley Powerbait Crazy Legs Chigger Craw, NetBait Paca Craw, Zoom Brush Hog or a Berkley Havoc Skeet’s 4″ Pit Chunk. All of the above have their own unique way of flapping, kicking, and calling fish in with their seductive falls and water moving abilities.
In mysteriously filthy water, bass tend to hold extremely tight to cover. Imagine yourself being placed in complete darkness. I don’t know about you, but the last place I would want to be standing is in the center of the room. I’d be posted up against a wall, specifically in the corner where I know I am safe and have the upper hand. The same concept tends to hold true for fish. The overhangs of a willow tree, dock pillar, transom of a boat motor or log protruding from the bottom provides a security blanket for those big girls. All of this cover may also act as a reference point for them. You will notice that after missing a fish, odds are they will jump right back on your bait as it is dropped back into the strike-zone. This is because they likely tucked right back into their previous ambush point. Often times when fishing clearer water you only have one crack at that THUMP, then they will continue roaming in an unknown direction, in search of their next meal.
Fishing in unfamiliar conditions can cause a sense of anxiety, ultimately pushing you out of your comfort zone. The only way to gain the necessary confidence is by putting in the hours to get yourself dialed in on the new pattern. Keep calm, bulk up, and remember… practice makes perfect.
Brett McComas, HSM Outdoors Pro Staff