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Adjusting to Muddy Water
By Chad  Brauer

 Water clarity is one of the most important factors in several aspects of catching bass. An angler should take water clarity into consideration when making decisions about lure color, lure presentation, depth, as well as other day to day fishing choices. By adapting to muddy water conditions you can turn low water clarity into an advantage.

In order to understand the changes a fisherman must make from clear to muddy water, you must first understand the effects muddy water has on the bass. A bass is primarily a sight feeder, which means they use their sense of sight to locate their prey. A change in the clarity of water obviously has an effect on their ability to do this. The distance the bass can see is reduced as water clarity decreases. It is similar to the effects we experience during foggy conditions. This of course means that the “strike zone” for a bass will shrink under these conditions since the distance they can see a bait is limited. To compensate for the limits on their vision, the bass start to make greater use of their other senses. Hearing and feel become increasingly important to the bass in finding prey.

The colors that bass see are also altered under muddy conditions. This is not due to a change in the fish, but rather the physics of light and water. Muddy water is muddy because it has particles of dirt suspended in it. These particles both absorb and reflect light. The wavelengths of light that are reflected are the colors we see. Muddy water is of some brownish tint. That tells us the wavelengths that make up brown are being reflected. Those colors happen to the yellow, orange, red, and green wavelengths. The other colors are absorbed by the particles. To the fisherman this means that baits of yellow, green, orange, and red will stand out under water, while other colors will appear black or gray.

So how does an angler turn all this into an advantage over the fish? First, we know his sight range is limited, so we must present a bait closer to him. We can do this by flipping, pitching, or even short precise casts. Muddy water allows you to get closer to the fish without spooking them, so it is not a problem. Second, we know the colors that show up best in these conditions. Some of my favorites are black/chartreuse for jigs and soft plastics, Fire Tiger for crankbaits, and chartreuse for spinnerbaits. Third, we know a bass is now using hearing and feel to increase their chances of finding prey. Rattles now become important. Choose baits that make stronger pressure waves in the






  water. For example, spinnerbaits with Colorado blades rather than willowleaf blades, or crankbaits with a wide wobble rather than a tight one. Last but not least, is slow down your presentation. Give the bass time to find your bait.

When you incorporate all of these factors into your muddy water game plan you will be more successful. Muddy water is definitely not the enemy of fishermen; in fact, it is often an ally. Remember that the worst thing about muddy water is cleaning up your boat.

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