Weekly fishing report: It's still time to go fishing
For the most part we dodged a major bullet with Miss Sandy and Ma Nature. Things could have been much worse and I consider ourselves extremely lucky. As I pen this report all of our local water levels are high and muddy. As my eldest son would quip; "Thank you, Captain Obvious!" Ah! But one can still fish. I hear you scoffing at this, but it is true.
I have already been out on the water and I have already caught fish. It can be done with a little work, a change of normal tactics, and the realization that the fish still have to eat regardless of the weather is not in the fisherman's favor. It means you have to adapt to the conditions even if they are lousy.
So let's look at the options to make the best of these conditions. The recent deluge of cold water slows the metabolism of trout and bass, thus their required feeding activity is lower than in warmer water. Also, these fish are creatures of instinct and you may be able to force a fish to hit a bait just because you placed it in the strike zone and triggered a response.
The strike zone will be a key factor. At this time of high muddy water it will be very small. Thinking about where and how to present your lure is important now. During high muddy water, more than at any other time of the year bass will fix to structure for safety from the flows.
They'll also stay there for longer periods of time. This means throw parallel with depth changes, brush lines, or vertically fish this type of structure as well as logs, rocks, and debris piles.
This, as a general rule of thumb, means fish slow. Play the lips of softer slack current or depressions with your casts since the fish under these conditions, will often layer along these contour lines found in all the streams, lakes, and rivers.
If you find fish in the bottom channels use a modified hair jig with an embedded rattle such as a JJ's Black Booger Jig. The auditory vibrations of the rattle are of the greatest importance since fish in muddy water are more dependent on sound vibrations picked up by their lateral lines. Use darker colors, especially black. Black will offer the sharpest contrast in muddy water.
The deeper you go in off-colored water, the less important color becomes and the more important vibration is as a stimulus. Herein lies its greatest drawback. You have to be very sensitized to keeping a jig in the most likely water for producing strikes because you are going to get less casts with this jig even if you adapt a spot cast technique.
This technique isn't a bad idea in cold, muddy water because your chances really drop when your presentation gets the jig away from the softer current breaks or structure. To compensate make yourself think about where the lure is going to be presented and what you envision as the strike zone. Once out of that area retrieve the lure and cast to the next spot.
Given that most strikes on jigs will occur on the fall and you are working conditions which often restrict strike zones even more there is a lot to gain by adapting this style of presentation and not wasting time on retrieves. Since you are going to work cold, muddy water realizing that the fish have compromised vision, add appeal to the jig by increasing its odor or attractant features by spraying it heavily with a scent. This is one sense that does not change and helps the fish decide if it wants to eat what you've presented. Odor can be even more important with slow moving bait where they have more time to smell the bait than with a lure designed for fast retrieve. Flyfishmen need to break out the sinking line and upsize their flies.
So use a fly that moves a lot of water when retrieved. Those would be streamer flies with a front collar or a swivel propeller blade like a Pistol Pete Streamer. The next consistent factor for me was breaks in the mud, in other words mud lines.
The trouble is all mud lines are not created equal. The key for my successful lousy weather fishing is mud-lines around the edges of the brush or trees or banks. Many times a mud line will form off the bank or inside the brush on the banks. When this occurs the trout or bass are generally along that mud line hanging in a position to ambush bait. Mud lines without cover near by were not productive as the fish needed cover that they could move back and forth if spooked. Also mud lines some times are heavier five feet away from the bank; this pushes the fish tighter to the bank.
Look for clear water when fishing in muddy water. This tip might seem obvious, but anglers will do well to look for cleaner water near smaller tributaries and springs that are starting to clear. Stay on the move in shallow water until you catch fish.
Perhaps the best tip for fishing in muddy water is to simply use bait. Large and relatively slow baits such as crawfish and nightcrawlers are a favorite. Pieces of worms and other bait can also be added to many lures.
Try new things when fishing in muddy water. Even if you are not catching any fish, you might as well learn to use that new lure or sharpen your other fishing skills to make the most of your time.
So, would I fish cold, muddy water post-storm conditions by preference? The answer to that is that such conditions rank about zero on my list of ideal conditions, but then what I prefer and what I am forced to fish are not always the same. After all, most of my friends have pictures of me fishing with them in less than ideal conditions, the rain, mud, and blizzards.
I think sometimes that my fishing buddies will blackmail me about using those pictures at the right time to convey the state of my mental stability. However, I'm sure if you're reading a fishing article during this post-Sandy muddy high water time and thinking of fishing, your just as crazyâ¦ um, erâ¦ I mean, passionate about fishing as I am! Have a great week! Good luck on the water!
Please let me know how you are doing on all of our great fisheries by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org Dave Pelachik is an avid angler and master jig & fly tyer of JJ's Jigs located in Towanda , Pa. Follow his adventures on Twitter: @JJsJigs or visit his website at www.jjsjigs.com