Catching bass in clear water provides one of the biggest challenges to bass fishermen. In some clear lakes, you can see bass 20 feet down. If you can see them, you know they can see you. You are going to have to make some adjustments if you want to consistently catch largemouth bass in clear water.
Use Light Line
Using lighter line is key to getting more bites in clear water, especially in the middle of the day when the sun is out. Use 6 to 8 pound test line and you’ll get a lot more bites. For many anglers, this is something they do if they’re not fishing around heavy cover. If you’re fishing around heavy cover, lighter line is going to be a problem.
Use Fluorocarbon Line
Fluorocarbon line is close to invisible under water, so rigging your spools with fluorocarbon line or at the very least, a fluorocarbon leader will help you catch a lot more largemouth bass in clear water. If you’re fishing around heavy cover and you can’t get away with using lighter line, fluorocarbon line is going to be the difference maker.
Use Natural Colors
Natural-colored baits appear more realistic in clear water. Stay with natural colors that closely resemble what the bass are actually eating and you will get more bites.
On Sunny Days, Fish Deeper or Closer to Cover
On sunny days, bass will go very deep or hang around cover that provides shade. Fish in and around the thick cover and you’ll have more success on sunny days.
Fish Low Light Conditions
If you can’t catch them around cover throughout the day, you may want to fish early in the morning, in the evening or at night. Low light conditions will help improve the bite tremendously on clear water, so try to maximize your time on the water by fishing during the peak times. Typically, bass will be found shallower during the low light conditions and deeper when the sun is up. In clear water, they will usually go even deeper than in lakes that have slightly stained water.
Make Longer Casts When Fishing Shallower
When fishing 10 feet or shallower, you’re going to need to make longer casts to consistently get bites. The bass will see you easily and will usually scatter from the boat, so making long casts and giving them a chance to see your bait before they see your boat is key to catch more fish.
Sight Fish the Shallows in the Spring
In the spring, when largemouth bass move shallower, you can have some awesome fishing by sight fishing for them. Get a good pair of polarized sunglasses, wait for the sun to come up and keep the sun at your back. This will help you find the fish and keep them from seeing you first.
At times, faster-moving lures will work well in clear water because the faster movement gives them less time to figure out that your lure is not real. They either eat what passes by them or they go hungry.
Live Bait Can Help
Don’t rule out live bait either when fishing gets really tough. A live nightcrawler, leech or minnow may be needed to fool them into biting.