14 STRAT­EGY

In the pre­vi­ous is­sues we dis­cussed high winds, no wind, ex­treme heat and fall­ing wa­ter lev­els. Lastly, we’ll dis­cuss ul­tra clear and muddy wa­ter. These two op­po­sites ac­count for a lot of headaches – es­pe­cially if you are ac­cus­tomed to one or the other.

SA Bass - - Contents -

“Deal­ing With Tough Sce­nar­ios - Part 3” In the pre­vi­ous is­sues we dis­cussed high winds, no wind, ex­treme heat and fall­ing wa­ter lev­els. Lastly, we’ll dis­cuss ul­tra clear and muddy wa­ter – Di­van Coet­zee

Clear wa­ter

As al­ways, we’ll start with how the fish re­late to each en­vi­ron­ment. The bonus with clear wa­ter how­ever, is the fact that you now po­ten­tially have an op­por­tu­nity to see how the fish re­act to your spe­cific pre­sen­ta­tion. This in turn al­lows you to make ad­just­ments if your ini­tial pre­sen­ta­tion was re­fused. Muddy wa­ter will not af­ford you this lux­ury.

Firstly, let’s de­fine ‘clear wa­ter’. Be­ing able to see the bot­tom at 10ft would be a good gen­er­al­i­sa­tion. Many of our im­pound­ments may con­sist of both ul­tra clear and muddy wa­ter. The cleaner wa­ter would nor­mally be towards the dam wall area, and the dirt­ier wa­ter towards the river sec­tion. Veg­e­ta­tion plays a ma­jor role when it comes to wa­ter clar­ity; rock is the other com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor. When there’s lots of veg­e­ta­tion present, the bass will ob­vi­ously re­late to it in some fashion if it’s within their com­fort zone. This makes fish eas­ier to find as they will nor­mally op­er­ate around a spe­cific depth and cover type. But what if there is noth­ing for the bass to re­late to? Their only op­tion is to head deep or sus­pend. I’ve men­tioned in the pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cles that bass need to op­er­ate un­der some sort of cover, and use what­ever is avail­able to them. In most clear wa­ter cases they re­vert to depth and dark­ness – es­pe­cially the big­ger fish.

Bass tend to have quite a big strike zone in clear wa­ter, they also move around more in search of bait. From this we can deduct that cov­er­ing a large amount of wa­ter would be ben­e­fi­cial, and once you’ve lo­cated some fish, you can slow down and pick the area to pieces. Clear wa­ter makes fish skit­tish, they don’t en­joy be­ing ex­posed what­so­ever. Mak­ing long casts to the tar­get area be­fore com­ing onto it proper will in­crease your catch rate. If veg­e­ta­tion is present, you need not worry too much about your ap­proach, fish are less cau­tious in the pres­ence of abun­dant cover.

One of the dis­ad­van­tages of clear wa­ter is the fact that the fish can get a bet­ter look at your pre­sen­ta­tion. This means that if your bait does not con­form to cer­tain pre­req­ui­sites it will be ig­nored. My ad­vice would be to stick to nat­u­ral / neu­tral colour schemes and com­bi­na­tions to avoid that the fish peg it as a fake right off the bat. If you feel the need to stray from nat­u­ral colours, keep in mind that you need to give the fish less time to in­spect the bait – in other words, a faster re­trieve. With re­gards to line size; there is a gen­eral con­sen­sus that one has to down­scale, but have you ever con­sid­ered the rea­son for this? Think that the fish can see your line? Un­less you’re us­ing braid or mono the an­swer should be ‘No’! Flu­o­ro­car­bon is the­o­ret­i­cally ‘in­vis­i­ble’ and whether you’re us­ing 6lb or 25lb the prin­ci­ple still re­mains. The main rea­son you need to down­scale on cer­tain out­fits is to en­sure that the ac­tion or ca­pa­bil­i­ties of a par­tic­u­lar bait isn’t com­pro­mised. For ex­am­ple: a four inch Senko will per­form much bet­ter on 0.25mm as op­posed to 0.38mm. The same goes for drop-shot and deep run­ning cranks, crankbaits will run deeper on a thin­ner gauge line and jerk­baits will per­form bet­ter as well. These are tiny de­tails that con­trib­ute greatly to your catch rate.

Muddy wa­ter

Let’s de­fine muddy wa­ter; if you lose sight of your bait 20cm be­low the sur­face then the wa­ter can be clas­si­fied as ‘muddy’. Di­min­ished light pen­e­tra­tion will force bass shal­low and tight to cover. With im­paired sight, the bass will rely on other senses to ori­en­tate them­selves and to de­tect bait. Their strike zone also

dra­mat­i­cally de­creases due to im­paired vi­sion and you need to sat­u­rate your bait for long pe­ri­ods in or­der to al­low the bass enough time to find the bait.

Heavy down­pours are the pri­mary fac­tor when it comes to dis­coloured wa­ter, if the tran­si­tion is grad­ual then all is good and well, but if the dis­coloura­tion oc­curs overnight, fish need time to ad­just. Rains trig­ger the bait­fish to spawn and the bass fol­low them shal­low. Gen­eral tac­tics would in­clude hug­ging the shore­line and pre­sent­ing your bait to the most ob­vi­ous and vis­i­ble struc­ture. Bait se­lec­tion is not as crit­i­cal as the spe­cific pre­sen­ta­tion; most of your bites will be out of re­ac­tion. Cover lots of wa­ter un­til you de­ter­mine what the fish are re­lat­ing to in terms of depth and struc­ture, and du­pli­cate the pat­tern in other ar­eas to achieve max­i­mum re­sults.

Fish are less skit­tish in muddy wa­ter as it cre­ates ‘cover’ on its own. I’m not say­ing that you can slam your hatch closed with­out reper­cus­sions, but they are cer­tainly more com­fort­able.

For muddy wa­ter I pre­fer heavy rods and line due to the na­ture of my pre­sen­ta­tion and the cover that bass are likely to re­late to. Jigs and craws rank as some of my favourite baits for this sce­nario as the pat­tern would con­sist mostly of pitch­ing to shal­low cover. Spin­ner­baits also do well along with shal­low run­ning cranks.

I sin­cerely hope that these in­sights guide you to bet­ter suc­cess and de­ci­sion mak­ing. See you on the wa­ter!

This 3kg fish re­fused a weight­less bait sev­eral times and even­tu­ally latched onto a jerk­bait

A se­lec­tion of jerk­baits suited for clear wa­ter (left) and muddy wa­ter (right)

A fan­tas­tic spec­i­men taken on a deep div­ing crank in 20ft of wa­ter

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