Last time we talked about cold muddy water baits and colors. This time we’ll talk about the exact opposite, cold clear water baits and colors. Before we get into that, though, we need to define clear water. In my world it’s water with 10 to 14 inches of visibility. But there’s also ultra-clear water. That’s water with clarity down to 10 feet.
The difference between the two is mostly academic. They’re both tough. I deal with both conditions the same way. My colors don’t change regardless of how clear the water is that I’m fishing. I will admit, however, that ultra-clear water is a little tougher to fish.
Why and when the water gets clear in the fall and winter isn’t all that important for us right now but I will give you a couple of reasons why it happens — food for thought. First, in most parts of the country there’s not much rain in the fall going into the winter. Second, most of our reservoirs are being drawn down to winter pool levels. That sucks a lot of the sediment out of the water.
OK, let’s take a look at colors — muted tones, nothing flashy or harsh — and baits.
Just like I did last time I’m going to give you three colors and three bait choices. The colors will make sense once I start talking about them but before we can make sense out of my bait choices, we have to think about how bass react to cold clear water conditions.
You’ll notice that in the last blog my baits were ones that sank and that could be fished close to cover and structure. That’s because in cold muddy water bass go down and they go tight. Just the opposite happens when the water’s cold and clear. The bass go up and out. But, up doesn’t mean they go to the surface. It means they go up high enough to suspend in the water column. So, my lures are going to be ones that can be retrieved horizontally at different depths.
My first color is a Rapala hue called Elite Blue. It’s frosted a little so it has a dull finish. But, the thing is that it’s almost translucent. That’s exactly what you want. I usually fish a Rapala Shadow Rap Jerkbait or sometimes a simple Shad Rap, the old-fashioned kind. They both do a good job horizontally and they look like the real thing.
Remember this: Bass in clear water are wary. We want to show them something that looks real — baitfish are translucent in the winter — but we don’t want to overpower them with bright flashy colors. It’s all about natural. And don’t forget about size, either. It’s important to match the local forage in both color and size.
My second choice is a Molix spinnerbait. Pick either the FS design or the Short Arm design. It doesn’t matter much as long as it’s the right color. And, the right color will be Bogolu Dace or Baitfish.
The last lure I’m going to mention is a plastic swimbait. I like Sexy Shad colors for the most part here. They tend to be soft and the ones I like the best are somewhat translucent. The best Sexy Shad colors are offered by Berkley, in my opinion anyway.
My favorite plastic swimbait is the Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer. It comes in several sizes. I go with the one that most closely matches the forage where I’m fishing.
Think about muted colors when you’re fishing cold clear water this winter, and don’t forget about size.
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