Freshwater: Clear Water Confidence - The Fisherman

Freshwater: Clear Water Confidence

brenden
Brenden Kuprel prepares to release a pickerel caught among abundant clear water weeds.

Giving credence to clear water; or a revival of strategic thought. 

Vegetation, stone, and wood is common clear water structure; Combinations form some of the best spots for largemouth and smallmouth bass, pickerel, crappies and panfish. Lake, river, or reservoir, it doesn’t matter. Water quality is good wherever you find it clear; so long as fertility is sufficient, the fishery will be good, too.

Plenty of our public waters, and some of private, have very clear water. It makes me feel confident before I even begin fishing, because I know about productive results to expect. Fishing won’t necessarily be easy, though sometimes it is.

Gamefish in clear water rely on sight more than they do in stained. That gives you the advantage of fish being more aware of your presentations, but because they see lures in high definition, they’re also more likely to reject them. Consider that given the same amount of actual fishing pressure, and the same amount and size of gamefish, in clear water they probably respond as being more pressured. It’s not only that clear water allows them to see more lures; they also see more of the lures they see.

On the other hand, given the same acreage and depth, clear water might have more and bigger fish than stained. I don’t believe that would always be the case, but clear water usually features flourishing habitat.

I fish clear water lakes, clear water reservoirs, and clear water rivers. But I fish other lakes with some stain in the water, one of them private and very productive. It’s not that I like variety for its own sake. A new spot will put me off until I make it my own, so the variance isn’t something I wholly embrace until I catch some fish. Given the many different waters I do fish, however, I’m enthusiastically aware that variety characterizes our region, though each body of water in and of itself interests me more than any comparison of it to others. In any case, we find differing degrees of and kinds of clarity or the lack, so what’s to do where the water is clear?

For one, you might scale back on the size of your lures, the point beaten into submission by seemingly every article about fishing clear water. Rather than do that, I’m always aware that fish can see a lure from a greater distance, so I’m not all-in on keeping mine small. I could throw a 4-inch or even 6-inch worm, but I throw 8 inches, mindful of the notion that a bass distant from it may see it and take interest. Possibly, it wouldn’t have noticed smaller.

That doesn’t necessarily mean a bass during summertime will expend the energy to swim over. But the worm sinks slowly, so maybe a bass will equally take its time at swimming down and over to it. In any event, over the course of an outing, some action is almost inevitable.

Smallmouth bass are notorious for being more active and energetic than largemouth, but if they serve as any example by comparison, I can see a largemouth doing what I described to intercept a falling worm. From considerable distance, too. If that worm sinks 20 feet, it becomes less likely in the relative darkness, but I’ll finish the point about smallmouths. In rivers during summer afternoons, I’ve experienced not only upstart average steam bass, but good-sized smallmouths going on 3 pounds charge like bulls from as many as 15 yards away to grab 5-inch, fat-bodied Senkos.

Don’t expect that to happen all the time or often, but smallmouth will respond better to an active retrieve, which is why I like to fish heavy-bodied and faster sinking Senko-type plastics for them, rather than slim-bodied traditional-style worms that fish slower. Even the little 9-inch bass, they glom onto 5-inch Senkos as if their mouths were bigger. Give them a little slack after a pickup, but you’ll be sorry if you wait too long before setting the hook, because they force it down fast.

And about active and energetic fish, every summer I catch pickerel, and some nice ones, on a crankbait with a chrome finish. A Storm Hot ‘n Tot; when the sun’s out, that lure gets reflected in clear water like shouting out loud.

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