Bass are creatures that thrive on their senses, like humans when one sense is nullified the others kick into high gear. This phenomenon can be seen when fishing for bass in different types of water, as we previously discussed in our article on strip-pit fishing bass rely on their sense of sight in ultra-clear water, that is totally flipped when you are fishing in dirty water.
In water that is dirty or heavily stained bass heavily rely on their lateral line, this is the part of the fish that feels the vibrations in the water, for the most part the sense of sight is second on the list but that only kicks in once the lateral line has guided the fish toward the disturbance in the water. So to put it simply; in dirty water a bass must first feel the lure, then they can move to where they can see the lure. The advantage to this is the fish is less picky toward the presentation.
Not only does the dirty water cause bass to use their lateral line more it also causes their metabolism to heighten because of the warm water. During the spring months the dirty water will warm quicker due to the microscopic debris in the water, these particles also help to keep the water warm a few weeks longer than the clear lakes in the months in the fall season. The warmer water coupled with the lack of sight cause fish to become very aggressive but it also gives them a sense of security because it is also harder for predator fish to find them, this may cause the bass to sit and feel before moving in for the strike.
When fishing this dirty water you will obviously want something that puts off a lot of vibration, personally, I like to use a Rayburn Red Xcalibur Xr50 or a Cotton Cordell Super Spot in the same color. If the area is covered in vegetation it may be a good idea to switch to a spinnerbait, during those times I find that a midnight special comes in handy. While those two are totally different baits they do have some things in common, they both are dark colored which creates a contrast in the dirty water to help the bass see the bait, and they also put off a ton of vibration. In the case of the lipless crankbaits they are usually jam-packed with rattles which causes a reactionary bite, which is what most anglers are after. The same goes for the large Colorado blade on the midnight special, it causes a metric tonne of water displacement which can drive the bass absolutely crazy, especially if you are dragging it through their homes in the grass.
If you want to go nuts with color I also advise a fluorescent color scheme, this seems to just flat out anger those bass and they seem to hit it HARD, not sure why but hey, I’ll take it any day! Since the bass are often found in the shallower areas in dirty water it is a good idea to also toss a floating short-lipped crankbait, this will only get down a few inches under the surface, it will also usually have a very erratic wobble, and lastly it will often help to keep that pesky grass bass off of your trebles. A personal favorite of mine for this application is a short-billed crankbait that is painted black with glow-in-the-dark stripes down the side, the dark color causes high-contrast while the glow-in-the-dark gives a light spot that the bass seem to zero-in on.
Narrowing It Down
Bass often times will try to search for cleaner water if there is any, this is why if there is an inlet, try that, I bet you there will be some fish there that will be ambushing what floats in from the inlet and also the clean aerated water will more than likely draw bass in from all around. If there isn’t a good inlet of fresh, clean water then you should check around the shallows, the fish may not always stay up in the shallows but when they are up there it is for one reason, to feed, and that is when you want to get them on the end of your line.
So, here it is in a quick summery; use noisy baits that put off a lot of vibration to please the lateral line and put a solid contrast in the water. Bass can often be found on the transition between murky and clear water, be it an inlet or just a transition in bottom composition, they are also often found hugging the banks. Now get out there and post your pictures up on Rippn-Lips Tackle and Bad Poncho Outdoors!