Find Bass In Warm And Dirty Water

By on January 18, 2016
Jason Christie shares some advice on fishing in cold, dirty water for bass. (Credit: Fred McClure)

With the El Niño conditions going on this year, there are many zany changes to weather patterns going on. Some of these have the potential to upset the ways that your favorite lake sets up.

So even though it’s winter, the current El Niño conditions can mean waters will be warmer, higher and dirtier. And the tactics that you’ve typically used during this time of year won’t work because the water is completely different. But what are some steps you can take to account for the changes in conditions?

Firstly, consider changing up your bait to match conditions on the water. Since things have gotten murkier, you need to adjust the baits you use to account for the fact that bass can’t see them. A good option, then, might be a spinnerbait because of the noise that it makes underwater. Other noise-making baits, like rattling crankbaits or jigs with noise chambers, should be considered as well.

From there, any body of water that you’re fishing on should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Some important factors to consider include a lake’s color and its temperature. If the water is dirty or clear, that will help you to know which baits you should throw.

Dirty, warmer waters tend to make an ideal situation for throwing a loud spinnerbait. These conditions are typically preceded by heavy rains that pump in thick loads of sediment. For cold and clear waters, throw things that are visible to bass, like minnows or ripbaits.

Another key thing that water temperatures help to dictate is your retrieval speed. If waters are warmer, it’s a safe bet that you can reel it in a little quicker. But if waters are colder, you might want to slow things down a bit because the bass will be moving a little more slowly too.

Throughout making these adjustments, it’s important to keep an open mind. Fishing in the winter doesn’t typically result in the most bites, no matter what type of bait you’re throwing. So it’s important to also put yourself into areas where the fish are likely hiding out — and feeding. If they’re not feeding, move on.

To find these areas, start out by fishing shallow, in waters that are about 8 to 10 feet deep. But try not to fish in areas that are too shallow, or where bass would have to swim up to find the bait. Look for areas that have channel swings, or drop-offs nearby. That deeper water will give bass the option to change depths quicker and easier — to account for the weather — than other areas.

And since bass want to keep moving vertically in the winter, as opposed to more horizontal patterns, spots including coves, creeks or long stretches of shallow bank can be ruled out for casting. But any type of structure will still be good to throw at, whether it be rocks, docks, laydowns or grass.

But once you have pinpointed where the bass are biting in the water column, take note. Then try to track them through the day — they will likely rise some. So in the morning, you might throw a spinnerbait to about 8 feet, but will throw the same spinnerbait in the afternoon at about 3 feet. This happens because bass are trying to soak up some of the afternoon sunlight.

For more on this subject, including some tackle choices to consider and other baits, check out this post on Wired2Fish.

Have a go-to method for catching fish in the winter? What do you do when the water conditions change? Please consider leaving a comment to share your thoughts!

Top image: Jason Christie shares some advice on fishing in cold, dirty water for bass. (Credit: Fred McClure)

About Daniel Kelly

One Comment

  1. Luis

    January 22, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    nice article, in dirty water I think we should have a good fish finder. 🙂

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