So Missouri had a lot of rain this week. After everything had subsided I decided to check out my local ponds for bass and panfish, and to put it lightly, we had some run off . It wasnt pretty. So I tried to fish the structure like I normally do but nothing worked. I managed to get one pan fish but i feel it was more luck than skill. I must have dropped the lure on his head in order for him to see it. Any tips? What so you do when the water is really muddy. I was really at a loss.
I would actually suggest darker colors in muddy water. I have had great luck with black. In pea soup water, green also works well. I think a lot of it is also figuring out where the fish relocate when the water is up. Lake/ponds are different than creeks/rivers. The more you fish, your body of water, and try different things the better catch rates will follow.
I used to get bummed at high water, but I had a great steelhead trip in what I would call chocolate milk. We had to go to a feeder creek that was clearing up quicker. I used the aforementioned black and green buggers with great success!
A few years back the tailwater I fish got some major rain, so much they had to open the floodgates. Water was very dirty for months but fluorescent pink and cerise kept me catching trout when others struggled.
Fluorescent colors with lots of flash (Krystal flash or flashabou) would work to maximize visual appeal.
More important might be vibration so the fish can feel the prey (fly). Spun deer hair, lots of hackle, and some silicone skirt legs help create turbulence that the predator can track down even without a good visual. The bright colors and flash help during the final moments up to the strike.
I usually go with the baitcasters when the waters muddy. My favorite muddy water bass lure is an oversized, all black spinnerbait with huge black Colorado blades & a extra heavy skirt. This lure pushes a lot of water & creates a lot of vibration. Flies should be selected in the same line of thought.
Both lines of thought on color, dark & bright both can work. IMO, dark colors provide a more defined profile, while the bright colors are likely seen easier up close in contrast to the muddy water. Keep in mind that when they can't see things with their eyes, fish use that lateral line to find prey, so bigger flies that push water & cause increased vibrations as Joey has indicated will usually work better in such conditions.
In muddy conditions bass will often move in against the bank too, especially if higher water floods the surrounding areas but may also be found at any edge where there may be clearer water especially if there's a stream that flows into the pond or lake. Such smaller flows usually clear up faster than the bigger pond or lake water. Plus the like the current which may bring food without them having to move far to get it. Bass move in tight against structure too in muddy water, so the fly has to be presented in tight. Often even a few inches out & they may not be inclined to chase it, so you may have to hit them on their nose.
I would try a fly that's much bigger than normal, I prefer black, and if the fly has rattles that would be an added feature that could help them locate the fly. I would go with a good weed guard too if there's any kind of cover or structure.
The visibility of colors in murky to muddy water depends upon several factors. If it's REALLY muddy, with visibility of less than 6 inches, the fish simply don't depend upon sight. They may only see a fly or lure in the last instant before they take it, but they locate things to eat by sound, scent, and vibration. In that case, I'm pretty convinced that color simply doesn't matter. Use bright colors or dark colors, either will work (or not).
In very murky but not truly muddy water, visibility 6 inches to 18 inches, color becomes more important. But you cannot say definitively that black or chartreuse or whatever is the most visible color. It all depends upon where in the water column the lure or fly is, and from what direction the fish are viewing it. If the fish are looking UP at a lure or fly, they are seeing it against a light background (the sky and above water light). Therefore, the darker the color is the more visible it will be. If they are looking at it from the side, such as when both fish and lure are suspended in mid-depth, they are seeing it against the color of the sediment in the water, which will usually be brownish or olive, but even that is dependent upon how close to the surface the fish and the fly are. The closer to the surface, the more light there is to be diffused throughout the water, and the brighter and lighter that brownish or olive will be. In that case, again the dark color will be more visible. But as you go deeper, there is far less light and the background will be much darker, and therefore dark colors begin to blend in, and light colors begin to show up more.
And keep in mind that light simply doesn't penetrate all that far in very murky water. If you're able to see a bright object, looking down into the water at it and therefore seeing it against a darker background, at 18 inches, that means the light has to penetrate the water 18 inches, bounce off the object, and penetrate the water again up to the surface and to your eyes. Theoretically, the light penetrates 36 inches of water, and any water that's any deeper than that will get very little light. In reality the fish can probably see things somewhat deeper than that, but still, I have to think that if the fish is deeper than four or five feet, it is back to locating things by sound, scent, and vibration, and color doesn't matter.
This is all compounded by the fact that fluorescent colors are optically brightened and actually show up better with very little light than normal colors, so in water approaching the depth where very little light penetrates, a fluorescent color like chartreuse WILL be more visible than any other color.
So as a general rule of thumb...truly muddy water, don't worry much about color. Deep water that's very murky to muddy, don't worry about color. Very murky water that's shallower, the shallower the lure or fly is in the water column, the more visible dark colors are, the deeper it is in the water column, the more visible bright colors are.
The problem with just using a different color is the fish still has to see it. I am a big advocate of using flies that push water and make noise. Something that will bring the fish to the fly. Clousers that click, clack along the rocks are good. Big muddlers with big, loosely spun deer hair push a lot of water. Flies with rubber legs will put off vibrations. Now, to seal the deal, tie a short dropper tippet off the bend of the hook of this attractor with a small black leech with some red crystal flash. You can do it with poppers too. In fact poppers are a fantastic choice in dirty water. But once again, use the dropper. The attractor fly will get their attention and then feed em with the leech