Clear Water Fishing Missouriby: theangler
Clear-water in Missouri means drought fishing
Virtually all of the fishing water around St Louis becomes ultra clear during a summer dry spell and they are likely to stay that way until the rains of autumn - if they come. Lakes and streams that are characteristically clear are become more so.
The Mississippi River, typically brownish-green, sometimes turns a bright azure.
Clear water makes catching fish more difficult, but it doesn't make it impossible. Here are some of the techniques used by the experts to cope.
Revise your schedule. Periods of low light reduce the effect of clear water. Not only is fishing more pleasant in the summer during mornings and evenings, fish are easier to fool because they can't see what's going on as well. For most species in most lakes, the best time to fish is at night. On super-clear lakes such as Bull Shoals, Norfork, Table Rock and even Lake of the Ozarks, most of the big fish caught in July and August are caught at night.
Use lighter fishing line. Many expert anglers, when conditions allow, use 6-pound and even 4-pound line for their late-summer fishing because it is less visible to the fish. A favorite trick on Bull Shoals, for example, is to fish a 1/8-ounce or even lighter jig & eel and use 4-pound line.
This isn't an easy way to fish. Because of the high stretch of such light line, strikes are difficult to feel and it is hard to set the hook. And, of course, breakoffs are common. But in many situations, anglers believe, getting and losing fish with light line is better than not getting strikes with heavy line.
Make long casts. This sounds easier than it is. Actually, it requires the angler to change several things, starting with where he holds his boat in relation to where he wants to fish.
Most good anglers realize, though, that the approach of a boat is a major alarm to fish, especially in hard-fished water and especially in clear water. Keeping the boat back as far as possible minimizes this problem.
Long casts, however, put a premium on an angler's casting accuracy. And long casts aggravate the difficulty of setting the hook. The more line a person has out, the more stretch there is in that line. A partial solution is sharp hooks.
Use smaller lures. Not all good fishermen agree on this point, but for many the feeling is that it is better to be subtle when the water is clear and the fish are spooky.
Light line and small lures go together, of course, but in many situations fish just seem more likely to hit a small crank bait than a big one. The same seems true for spinner baits, pork lures and even plain jigs.
Some good anglers also believe that darker colors and less contrast in color combinations also help fool fish in clear water. Black, blue, purple, maroon, dark red, dark green and motor oil are unquestionably popular summer colors. So are, however, silver and clear plastic, which in their own way are semi-visible in the water.
Seek out the densest cover. Submerged cedar trees, flooded grass, logjams, etc. not only conceal fish, they can conceal fishermen. The big bass hiding in the weeds, the big crappie hiding in a cedar, feels secure. But he can't see out any better than his enemies can see in.
This is the main reason that the method known as flippin' accounts for such a high percentage of the big bass caught in the summer. Flippin' with the usual jig & pig lure is the premier way to fish in heavy cover.
There are, though, other ways. Crappie anglers fish in heavy cover with a method they know as ''dippin' .'' It is no more than the lowering of a jig or minnow straight down into holes in whatever the cover might be - cedars, brush piles, etc. Bluegill anglers also use the method, substituting crickets and worms for bait.
Topwater lures and plastic worms, too, can be used to fish heavy cover. Many, many big bass are caught by anglers who are brave enough to throw a stick bait or an unweighted, Texas-rigged plastic worm into an opening in a logjam or moss bed.
Fish in the shadows. Fish love shadows any time but especially in the summer and especially when the water is clear.
Boat docks throw beautiful shadows, shadows that remain all day. Lake of the Ozarks, which in many places seems about half covered with boat docks, probably wouldn't be half as good a place to fish in the summer without those docks. Adding to the value of the docks, of course, is the brush sunk there by many dock owners.
Bridge pillars cast fine shadows, too, and so do standing and fallen trees. A trick employed by many anglers is to position the boat on the sunny side of such cover and cast beyond the tree or pillar to draw the lure near where a fish may be lurking on the shady side. Not only does the pier or tree cast a shadow, it also prevents fish from seeing the boat.
For stream anglers, shadows are often the difference between success and failure. In the summer, when most Ozark streams are clear, about the only time a person can catch fish is early and late in the day when there are shadows beneath overhanging trees and along the banks. At midday, when there are no shadows, about the only way a person can hope to catch fish is by sinking a jig, worm or crank bait into the deep, rocky holes where big fish retreat to escape the heat and light
Added: Tue Jan 06 2009
Last Modified: Fri May 15 2009