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High and muddy


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Well we better talk about fishing high muddy water before the new guys here start thinking about taking up golf. When I first started fishing rivers if the water wasn't clear or if the river level changed I sorta figured I was done for. Now I just change tactics and locations and can usually manage a few fish. I've called and talked to "some of the experts" A lot of them don't fish muddy water or if it's cold out they can't guide anyone and they're at shows promoting the good fishing. The thing about a lot of the people here is that we can only go fishing at certain times and the conditions aren't always perfect so it might be nice to catch a few fish in high muddy water.

Years ago someone mentioned this guy that fishes the Fox river in high water and catches lots of fish. So I called up Ken Darga here was an expert that could help me. He mentioned fishing eddies I ran out the door got lucky and a few hours later called to tell him I had just caught 2 of the biggest smallmouths I ever had.

One of the craziest things I ever saw was while a group of us were discussing whether or not it was too muddy to fish Norm goes over and casts behind a telephone pole thats in the flooded parking lot next to the river and pulls out a really big fish. Now all I'm thinking is oh god we have to fish in this and it was the muddiest water I've ever seen not zero visibility but -1 visibility.

So I expect to hear from these two guys. My pat answer to everything is to fish as many small well defined eddies as is possible and if they're near where you've caught fish before all the better, but in the spring when fish are moving up any eddied is worth checking. In the winter in cold water stay near spots you know it might just be a confidence thing. Hitting a lot of spots is the key. By my house that means a lot of bridges as the shores are tough to walk or getting out in a boat if it's safe. If you can walk the bank safely cover as much water as is possible and get the odds in your favor. ( This whole fishing thing is about percentages and probabilities). I like to use a weedless tube because usually you're fishing in flooded grass or wood or something. I haven't used a lot of other lures in mud I need to work on that. I have caught some good fish out in strong current below riffles in mud. How they saw the lure I don't know.

One thing I always think about is that smallmouth bass are optimists.They take advantage of any situation. They're not paniced they're not worried they're hungry. Pretty much everything is a feeding opportunity if you're a fish.

Other things to try....Some of the rivers by me stay muddy all year I think it's from carp working so these fish probably don't mind a little more mud. Those USGS sites show river levels so sometimes I'll do a little time in the muddy river and then hit a clearer one. Some small creeks clear up faster some big rivers take a long time to mud up.

Some times I think that with all the food that comes down river and usually the water temperature dropping after a rain that some of us are fishing for fat stuffed fish that have just had their metabolism drop down. If you can hit it again after the fish have started feeding again you'll do better.

What is muddy water? I think if you have less than 2 or 3 inches of visibility it's muddy.

Pass the Bosco please



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Thanks for the good info and the boost of confidence, Phil. I've been looking at high muddy water as hopeless for me since all of my short little outings have left me fishless for the season....so far.

I have plans to get out early tomorrow morning and try a technique I recently read about in a Bass Master article. "The smallie rig for dummies" (basically a catfish or a wolf river river rig)....three way swivel with a weight heavy enough to stay down in the current and an unweighted worm, tube, fluke etc... This way, you can drag it through the riffle and feel the bottom structure while keeping the bait in the strike zone longer. I know of a nice riffle below an old railroad bridge that has been generous to me in the past. This should make for good testing grounds. I'll post my results.

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That area by the _ _ _, is not holding fish, this time of year.


Prespawn and spawn season is in swing.


Focus on slower moving waters, in sandy gravel bottom areas, around rocks and wood.

Smallies build their nest/lay their eggs next to an object.

Some objects may be as small as a single stick.


Keep moving 'til you find fish.


When fish are on their beds, they're tough to catch.


I drifted that entire west shoreline, from (A) thru (Z), last Thur, after I saw you---

nadda fish caught.

Were they there? Yes---but they had lock jaw in that area, at that time.


Did well further upstream---wood and rocks.

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Never got out this morning. Fatherhood seems to take priority over everything..........even fishing. Two kids under 2 years old...oh boy!

Guess I'll try tomorrow....


Ken, the area I was talking about is further downstream...

I also got a whole lotta nothing thursday...east and west. But, the west side really allows for l-o-n-g drifts.

That rod is going to be close by if not tied to my hip or in my hand at all times. I would love to wrassle a smallie(...or ten!) with that baby(9'ML steelhead float rod).

Let's hope I can make that technique work for me.



Wood and rocks and slower areas with graveley bottoms, aye?

Sounds like the area I was going to try.

If they aren't in one spot, then I'll move to the other bank where the structure is completely different...Bridge and riffle on one side, shoreline eddies, tree roots and undercut banks on the other....wood and rocks too. :lol:

...If that's not productive...

...I'll be back at that one spot (downstream of the McHenry dam) making those long drifts. ;)

...If that's not productive...


I'm going to take up golf... ;)

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High and muddy water, let's not forget to add cold as well to the negatives that send most folks to the tv to watch the guys catching fish instead of catching their own. This is a subject that I have touched on many times in many different forums from posts on multiple websites to seminars to magazine articles [ including In Fisherman] to one on one communication over the phone or through e-mail.


I am currently writing an article for the newsletter on the subject but will go into the subject briefly right now. It prolly won't get submitted to late fall the way it looks right now.


First and foremost you have to believe you are going to succeed , without confidence you may as well clean the garage.


Second the fish still have to eat and will be where the food is. The smaller prey species can handle the current even less than the game fish so they adjust to the changing conditions by getting out of the current.


Third visibility obviously is in the tank so you have to appeal to their other senses. Bigger, bulkier, noisier baits are the key. Don't worry about color, by the time they see it , they long since felt it and have pretty much made their decision to eat it or not.


Fourth, plan on covering a lot of ground as most of the areas are smaller and are covered quickly.


Lastly don't get hung up on substrate, mud is as good as rock and may be better in colder water. Think outside the box, non tradional ie manmade cover like picnic tables , telephone poles, parking blocks and the like suit the fish as well as natural cover.


If you fish 200 plus days a year , you learn to fish in every condition. The key is to learn from your failures as well as your success.

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That area gave me some nice surprises last year and I plan on getting to know it well.


Ken, still using the float rod?


Yep---float rods are rigged and ready.


When the water is low, take pics of all the structure and obstacles in the water and along that area.


When the water is high, those objects are under water, and then you'll know where they're at and the distance from shore/bank.

I fish that area, as if there's a fish behind every obstacle.


Oh yes, the street drains are under water right now.

Locate the drain covers and drains along the street curb, then follow it out toward the river bank.

Just lower your bait/lure, and "WALLA" you just may be rewarded with the biggie of the area.


PS---there's some larger boulders just out from the shoreline, and scattered.

Some of those rocks use to be up on the sloping bank.

They were relocated further out, so as to provide resting places for the fish.

Fish are using some of the submerged rocks for their nesting spots.

I don't wade thru that area, during spawning periods.


pss---make a note of "goose poop island". There's a nice channel thru there.

Some of the big trees roots are here.


I'd suggest you hind behind the big trees when you bait up.

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