Catching fish in clear water is something that, growing up fishing small creeks and rivers, is something I had to learn to do. It seems easy enough in theory, right? I mean, you can see ALL of the fish. All that you have to do is place the cast in the exact place where you need it and its business as usual from there. Right? Wrong. Let’s look at a few techniques that I have found to give me success.
First, let’s talk about the type of baits that I like to use. Fish in clear water usually work in extremes. They either are very skeptical of your bait or they want nothing more in life than to kill it. I like smaller finesse type baits such as the Ned Rig, a Texas rigged craw or creature bait, senko or a creature bait on a shaky head. These are all baits that are fairly common in any type of fishing but they are my “go to” baits for clear water fishing. In the fall, I also have a lot of success with a fluke jr. The big thing to keep in mind here is the profile of the bait. Larger skirted jigs and baits generally do not have success in water with high visibility, especially if it is water that is completely clear. Keep the profile of the bait small.
If you’re like me and sometimes get tired of fishing finesse baits, the reaction bite is where it’s at. Honestly, I end up using a whopper plopper more than I should because it is so dang fun to watch the fish boil up around the bait and then explode like the bait just said something bad about its mom. It gets my blood pumping! I also really like to use a chatter bait with a fluke trailer and a 1.5 square bill. At times, I like to use a spinner bait with a willow and Colorado blade combo but that is mainly in the spring and late fall. The reaction bite is what you’re looking for here so don’t be shy and don’t think that because these fish appear skittish they won’t hit a more flamboyant bait.
The next thing is your cast and retrieve. When casting, you need to be pretty far away from your intended target. You also want to make sure that you cast a good distance past the place that you think is holding a fish. Landing a cast right on the fish’s head usually doesn’t produce a lot of success in this scenario. Because having a long cast is so important, you need to pay close attention to the topography around you and plan your boat position accordingly.
There are several different types of retrieves to use but keep these few things in mind. If you are using a finesse bait, you want small movements and you want them done fairly slowly. I will only work a bait for about 15 feet before I zoom it back to the kayak and move on to the next cast. If you are using a reaction bait, it takes a completely different approach. I usually move it pretty fast. I don’t want the fish to get a good look at the bait. You want them to think that it is bait that is running for its life. Sometimes, especially with a chatter bait and crankbait, I will reel very fast and then stop for a 5 count. Then, I will reel it fast again. I will vary the retrieve like this several times between the target and my kayak.
The last thing that I want to mention is lure color. With the exception of top water (I generally only use white or black), I use colors that are somewhat natural but with a little bit of flare. So, we are talking brown and bright orange, blue and orange, purple, blue and white, white and chartreuse, and the only color that I really use metal flake with is green pumpkin. I like to use it with orange or red flake. Flake, I feel like, is usually a little too overstated for these clear water fish. Molten craw is another color that I will sometimes use flake with but it’s usually a safe bet to stay away from the metal flake.
Thank you for reading and I hope that this helps you catch some fish on your next clear water adventure! If you have any questions, you can message me through my Facebook page called “River Bound” and I would be glad to help!