Dealing with cloudy water - tactics for bass on fly and lure.
The photograph above is now a common sight on the south east coast, and has been especially visible and regular over the last few weeks. The lethal combination of continuos strong winds and heavy rain adds 'colour' to the water, combined with large deposits of rotting seaweed it spells tough times for the fly and lure fisherman. Circumstances like the one above are at the extreme end of the range and as the first thirty meters are brown I am often asked, especially by flyfishermen, as to what to do.
There are two major types of fish - the predatory type and the scavenger type. Predators tend to want to catch and eat most of their prey when its alive, although they will scavenge if they need to. Using their highly developed senses of smell, sight, sensitivity and hearing they locate their prey easily. Sight is a very well developed sense in most fish and is especially developed in those that are predatory. Bass eyes are located high on their heads looking forward up and a lot to the side. Contrast and Movement play a BIG part in their vision.
Because of water clarity in Ireland and its normal restrictions, fish tend not to see beyond twenty or thirty feet. However lots of fish dont 'look' beyond a range of ten feet any further is too far! They have good colour vision and they have excellent night vision too. Predators rely on sight as the major tool in the hunting box. But what happens when they cant see effectively?
The extent of the turbidity of the water is usually indicative of whether bass will be present or not. In the photograph above they are most definetly not present, this photograph was taken after some days of very strong winds and rain. The photograph to the right was taken after the wind had blown but the weather was improving and the sea was 'fining down' or settling. Bass would be present in the circumstances to the right even with the suspended particles and seaweed present. The camera visibility here was reduced to about two feet.
Tying up subsurface visibilty, the weather and its impact on your fishing has been discussed in Part One. Here are some pointers to help when the sea is murky.
- Try to fish as early in the change of wind direction, increase in strength or deterioration as is possible.
- If this is not possible re-plan you fishing to attempt the latest set of tides in the cycle that correspond to an improvement. In other words after wind and rain dont go fishing just 'cause the sun shines - it takes time for the fish to return.
- If the change in weather that is causing the 'breakdown' is a big one the first two tides of this period are often excellent at producing BIG fish, if you can deal with conditions!
- If the change in weather is a fast moving depression that comes and goes very quickly, fish immediately the next tide when the barometric begins to rise - a key time!
- Do not expect a lot of fish after extended periods of strong wind and rain
- When the sea is 'fining down' dont be dissapointed not to get fish on the first tide you try - try the next - they'll be there and hungry too.
- Avoid fishing areas close to runoffs or river inlets, estuaries, where weed is gathered on the beach, or the windward sides of peninsulas or rocky points.
- Check the visibilty of different areas of water by dropping a fly into the sea and estimating maximum distance at which it remains visible - often fish can be concentrated in the optimum areas of 'bad' conditions. Use a brightly colored or very dark and noisy fly or lure! Do some combat fishing by creating impacts with structure with the fly or lure.
- Fish a black or purple or 'BLURPLE' fly as this contrasts sharply as the bass view it against the skys lighter background as they look up. Try black or smaller dark poppers or fish heavy flies/soft lures close to the bottom where visibilty is often slightly better
- Try and find current and watch and wait - often different phases of the tide produce clear conditions just for a short period - fish are often condensed in these areas and travel with the clear water.