After a long rain or a snow melt when waters are muddy is a great times to fish for walleyes. But according to professional angler and guide, Ernie Miller, many anglers don’t fish when waters are muddy and if they do, they don’t always fish correctly. Follow along as Miller provides a few tips on catching fish in dirty water.
Find Structure and Create Commotion
Walleyes naturally gravitate towards structure on the bottoms of rivers. According to Miller, when the water currents are extremely fast due to the heightened water level, the walleyes hover six inches off the bottom—extremely close to the structure so they can stay out of the current. Miller usually targets rivers with a lot of structure on the bottom.
“In muddy water conditions, I usually use a large, bright stick bait like a Storm Thunderstick which creates a fair amount of commotion as it travels through the water,” Miller said. “In muddy water, the fish can’t see very well so I hone in on their other senses. Since they sense vibration very well, a stick bait with a rattle in it is another option.”
Use Large Plastic Baits
Another muddy water tactic Miller frequently uses is large soft plastics.
“There are lots of large soft plastic lures on the market today that work great in muddy water conditions,” Miller said. “Many companies, including Bass Assassin and Yum make soft plastic swim baits that are almost 3-dimensional and resemble bait fish. Many of them have extremely large paddle tails that create a lot of movement in the water. With the paddle tails and bright colors, if you set it right in front of a fish, they are going to grab it. The bigger the bait, the better because the big bait makes it easier for the fish to see and they make more noise. These baits work great for vertical jigging.”
Jigging Just Right
When vertically jigging large, soft plastics, Miller said the key to success lies in not jerking the rod too much when you jig. “After the lure hits the bottom, I lift up slightly and bring the lure up six inches or so,” Miller said. “If you jig aggressively, the lure will rise a foot or more and the fish won’t be able to see it in poor water conditions. The lure will actually be out of the walleyes’ strike zone. In addition, in heavy currents walleyes aren’t very interested in leaving their hiding place.”
After-Market Add Ons
Miller says customizing soft plastics is a great way to get the attention of a walleye.
“Many anglers use soft plastics, but don’t add things to the lure to make them more effective,” Miller said. “They use small plastics that are better suited for crystal-clear water conditions. To increase the effectiveness of my soft plastic, I often add a glass rattle to increase vibration and noise. If I am having trouble getting fish to bite, I add half a minnow to the jig head. Now I have the large soft plastic, a noisy rattle, and the smell of a real bait fish. Doing this allows me to appeal to all of the walleyes’ senses, not just their vision which isn’t very good in murky water.”
Soft plastic swim baits are more affordable than large stick baits. Anglers just getting into the sport who don’t have dozens of lures at their disposal can pick up dozens of soft plastics in a variety of colors and sizes for a fraction of the cost of large stick baits. If anglers don’t want to buy minnows, spraying WD-40 or one of the fish attractants currently on the market onto the soft plastic lure can also attract fish. Fish are often attracted to the smell of WD-40 and other attractants which can equal fishing success, especially when they can’t see.
Night Time Fishing
Anglers shouldn’t forget about fishing through the night during muddy water conditions. Since spring walleye fishing can be good during the morning and late afternoon, Miller says many anglers go home at dark.
“During the day when fishing is good, anglers can catch several walleye,” Miller said. “At night, the walleyes become even more aggressive and I find that there aren’t as many people on the water so I often have the river to myself. Some of the biggest walleyes I have caught were landed long after the sun went down and most anglers went home for the day.”
So there you have it. If you want to fish when your local river looks like chocolate milk, don’t forget to shake, rattle and roll your favorite baits to create motion, vibration and trigger those finicky fish to bite.
To learn more about the author visit tracybreen.com.
Contact: Ernie Miller; www.michiganfishguide.com