Fishing a ‘Thinking man’s’ game

Published 12:01 am Sunday, April 6, 2014

The area lakes on both sides of the big river were slowly clearing up, and the water level was falling after six inches of rain fell a week or so ago.

That was thrown out the window this past Friday in the early a.m.

I rarely sleep past 5:00 a.m. I was up watching the radar that morning along with a lightening show. It rained about two inches in an hour and 45 minutes at our house. That was a heavy rain shooting down any chance of the lakes on the west side of the river clearing up by this weekend.

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The good news is the six inches of rain the week before that turned our lakes’ water clarity to what looked like coffee with cream gave the fish time to adjust to the dirty water. In the few places I caught fish before this past rain, I could lower my lure in the water and it would disappear at the knot where the lure was attached. That is what I call muddy at 1/2 inch of visibility.

I was fishing in a small “get-to-gather” open bass tournament with only 12 contestants. With wind gusts from 25 to 30 m.p.h., and extremely muddy and rising water, the only bass tournament guys that entered the event were the old die-hard veterans that have banged on these lakes for decades.

It sure beats sitting at home on a Saturday mowing grass and other such horrible things.

My son was my partner for the day. We ran out some of the areas on Lake St. John that held at least a few big fish for the past three and a half decades. Nothing was going on. Not a single strike.

We made a boat run and like any bass angler in a crunch, my mind was in the thinking mode. The water was muddy. Visibility was a 1/2 inch or less from the surface.

I thought, “I catch fish on a new moon night when it is so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face, so why can’t I go with my proven night lures and catch fish in muddy water with near zero water clarity like when fishing under a new moon?”

I made a stop, dropped off the front deck and grabbed two lures that have won me several night and day tournaments if the wind was gusting and/or the water was muddy. My first choice was an extremely modified 1980 era 3/4 ounce Stanley Vibrashaft spinner bait.

I tie my own skirts, so I have this really wild color I like to use at night and in muddy water that is basically what we call FireTiger, but with a twist of orange. The color is not the important deal. I remove the spinnerbait blades and hang a big No. 6 gold Colorado blade on the lure along with a 4 1/2 inch Riverside chartreuse/pepper grub that I don’t think is on the market any longer.

Within 10 minutes we had two nice fat bass weighing almost two pounds each. The second lure that boated one of the chunky bass from the brown cream colored waters is a 7/16th ounce Crawgator jig which is nothing special. The only difference is I like a big Zoom chunk trailer that pushes a lot of water. Both lures give the fish something to tune into that is easy to find and eat. Thinking we had the lures dialed in as well as the area, my son rigged up with basically the same thing.

I would like to say we went on to catch three more bass to finish off the five fish limit, but we did not. The two fish put us in 3rd place which was okay by me on such a tough day. Bass fishing is a thinking game. If you are not catching, you always need to be thinking and planning.

Hopefully the rains will slack off, the water will clear up soon and we will get back to normal. If we do get back to “normal” it will be the first time this year. The abnormal year of 2014 in the fishing scene continues. Who knows what is next?


Eddie Roberts writes a weekly fishing column for The Democrat. He can be reached at