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20 Apr

Master the Murk: Tips for Successful Bass Fishing in Murky Water

Bass Fishing Tips

While we’d all love to fish slightly stained water every time we go out to lip a bass, that simply isn’t possible for the vast majority of people. Sometimes, the water is gin clear making it difficult to catch fish that can see too well and sometimes, the water is so murky that the fish have a hard time seeing any bait.  Even if you do normally fish a fairly clear spot, one good storm, and it can be left murky for days.

Murky water is great for bass fishing. However, it requires a different approach than clearer water.

With semi-clear water, you can see what you’re targeting, the fish can see your lure well, and you won’t have any problems.

In murky water, you and the fish are blind.

Today, we want to go over various tips for bass fishing in murky water to help you make the most of a murky lake. This includes where to look for the bass, what to use to catch them, and various techniques that can come in handy.

Let’s get started.

Finding the Fish

In clear water, you can more or less sight fish, or otherwise, look for them as you move around on the water. That’s not possible when fishing for bass in murky water. Your lack of visibility is going to be a huge hindrance.

As such, finding the fish requires a bit more guesswork.

Finding Fish in Warm Seasons

During the warmer seasons, you should start your search around structures and debris in the water. Bass tend to hide around those areas to get the drop on prey, stay cool, and generally keep a territory to themselves.

This includes things such as piers, stilt structures, bridges, downed trees, stumps, and similar things in the water.

If you’re not finding anything around those areas, the bass are probably suspended around the 15-foot mark or toward the bottom in lakes that are shallower than that. They’ll suspend until the water temperature cools a bit, and then they’ll return to their normal spots temporarily to hunt.

Finding Fish in Cold Seasons

Typically, you want to fish deep in the colder seasons. This is because deeper water is warmer than the surface, and the fish can stay warm enough to survive. However, that is not always the case.

Right after there is precipitation, bass will come out of the depths to hunt in the shallows.

This is because the water added to the lake during the precipitation is warmer than the lake itself. In the shallower areas, that heat can stick around for a while. First, baitfish will approach those areas to hunt for any bugs or vegetation they can eat. Then, the bass will follow closely behind to score a winter meal while they can.

Because of this, you’ll want to target your usual structures in deeper areas, but if it has rained recently, try casting right off the bank. You’ll usually get your bite within 10-15 feet from the edge of the bank under these conditions because that’s where it’s shallowest without being too shallow for the fish to swim around.

Sweep the Area Properly

When you’re bass fishing in murky water, you don’t have the advantage of seeing where the fish are, but that doesn’t mean you can’t quickly find them, anyway. If you follow the simple guidelines we gave in the previous section, simply sweeping large areas around those spots will typically get you a bite fairly quickly.

How to Sweep an Area:

“Sweeping” is easy. First, pick your target. For this example, let’s say there’s a stump 30 feet straight ahead, and you want to see if anything is hiding by it.

First, cast right past it by about 20 feet. Now, start your retrieval and bring the lure past the stump until you bring it in. If you don’t get a bite, cast off to the other side of the stump and repeat the process. If that doesn’t get a bite, move a few yards to your left or right, keep the stump as a target point, and cast past it against your new position.

With this method, you’re doing two things.

First, you’re setting the lure way past the target, and hopefully, you’re not spooking any fish hiding at the stump. Then, you’re pulling the lure in naturally to your location. That’s a basic skill all fishermen should know.

However, you are also covering much more than just the stump. You’ll cover the entire area surrounding the stump, a good distance beyond it from your position, and a wide arc in front of you. If bass is in the area, and you’re fishing in a way that appeals to it, you’ll run your lure right in front of it, eventually.

This is time-consuming, but it’s the best way to cover tons of murky water quickly.

The alternative to this is to use sonar. There are two varieties.

If you’re in a boat, you probably already have an onboard sonar unit that you use to get a good idea of where the fish are. However, you’ll have to get within range of the target area to see if anything is there.

An option that allows for very precise readings away from your position, and is available to bank fishermen, is a castable sonar unit. This is an electronic item that looks and works like a bobber. You cast it out, it takes a reading of the water within a certain range of its position, and it sends that readout back to your phone or a proprietary handheld unit. This lets you put your sonar unit right on top of your target spot, and you can get a clear image of the entire area you’re targeting.

Of course, that’s an expensive alternative. If you have the money to spend on it, it is useful, though.

The problem with using sonar and just plopping your lure wherever it says to is that the murky water also affects the fish. They can’t see far in it, and you have to get very close or make a lot of noise, to get their attention. So, even if your sonar unit gives you a general location for the fish, you still need to sweep to make sure you get your lure in front of them.

Choosing Gear

The gear you use for murky water is going to be dramatically different than what you use in clear water. In clear water, you can see easily, and the fish can see easily. Lures stand out. In fact, that’s why it’s common practice to use naturally colored lures in clearer water. It blends in better with the other wildlife.

However, in murky water, you have to consider that the bass are basically swimming around in the equivalent of you walking in a thick fog. They can’t see much a few inches away from their faces.

As such, you need to adopt a few pieces of new gear to fish this type of water.

1: Colored Line

This isn’t a necessity. If you’re between checks and can’t buy a new line, and you already have plenty of mono, feel free to use that. However, this does make your experience a lot more enjoyable. Not to mention, it looks pretty cool.

Spooling some colored line, whether it’s mono, braid, or whatever, will help you keep track of your line in the water. This gets rid of those embarrassing moments when you cross your line over a downed limb or other problems.

In murky water, the fish can’t see it, anyway. So, you get all the benefits, and there are no drawbacks.

2: Go Bright

In murky water, you want to use brighter lures. The fish might be able to see the lure from further away, but the real purpose is to trigger their instincts the second they see it. If you use a bright lure, such as a neon yellow or silver flake, the fish will get within inches of it, suddenly notice, and snap it right away. With darker colors, it can take a minute.

However, it’s important to note that this works best with lures that have a lot of action. Less mobile lures should be darker but still stick to reds and similar colors. Fortunately, you probably won’t be using low-action lures in murky water. We’ll talk about that in our next suggestion.

3: Make Some Noise

Fish mostly hunt with sight, but they do feel vibrations along their lateral lines. It’s kind of like their sense of hearing. You need to use that to your advantage as much as possible.

To do that, you need to use lures that generate a lot of action.

Spinners, very active soft plastics, crankbaits, and similar lures are all great options. You can even add a trailer to a spinner to give it that extra bit of flare.

However, you’re not very limited in what you can use. You can also add things such as clip-on rattles, scent your lures, and even add a finishing nail to the end of a soft plastic to make it swing more wildly. There are a lot of options, both commercial and DIY, that will allow you to add action to lures.

By doing this, you help draw the bass to your lure even when they can’t see it. They’ll feel the vibrations it gives off, track it to investigate, and once they see that bright color in front of them, they will bite hard.

If you’re unfamiliar with all the lures that could come in handy when fishing bass, we recommend learning more about the best bass fishing lures.

Try Live Bait

A lot of bass fishermen only think of lures. That’s where all the skill is, or at least that’s what it seems like at first glance. However, live bait definitely serves as a place in murky water bass fishing.

Live bait will naturally cause vibrations that get bass interested while they swim around, and it will bleed into the water; giving off a natural scent that bass will immediately move in to investigate.

You can buy live bait, or you can catch it on the spot. It’s definitely worth trying, though.

Try New Spots

Since you can’t see through murky water, you can’t tell if you’re just casting into an area devoid of life or not. You need to move around. If you got more than 30 minutes without getting a bite, try a nearby spot. Keep working your way around until you figure out where the fish are.

Of course, you should also try different retrievals and lures at each spot. You might not be catching anything just because the bass doesn't want the lure you’re presenting.

Fish Slowly

As we’ve said many times, the bass can’t see any better than you do in murky water. All they have an advantage in is that they can feel vibrations and smell prey in the water.

Because of that, you do not want to zip your lure around. Even if a bass picks up on its vibration, if you’re fishing fast, you’ll likely be readying yourself for a new cast before the bass even reaches the spot the lure was in when it noticed it.

Try a retrieval that involves a medium pace straight reel, followed by a pause for a few seconds, and then finished with another retrieve. This should be enough to let your lure show itself off a bit, but the pause allows the bass to catch up and investigate. It might also trigger the bass when you start reeling again as they attempt to claim their “meal” before it gets away.

Use BassForecast to Understand Other Parameters

Water clarity is an important factor when fishing for bass in murky water, but it doesn’t change your approach too much. You just need to use different colors and poke around a bit more.

However, there are tons of factors that can make or break your fishing experience. You’ll need to worry about the weather, barometric pressure, water temperature, depth, where all the best spots are, when the spawn is, and even the cycle of the moon before you can fully optimize your fishing experience.

To learn all that, all you need to do is download the BassForecast fishing app. The app offers comprehensive information about all aforementioned important fishing factors and more.