Smallmouth bass prefer clear water, but they do live in some waters that are dark and murky. There are definitely some things that you will need to know when targeting smallies in murky water.
Best Tips for Catching Smallmouth Bass in Murky Water
Fish Shallower Compared to Clear Water
These fish are going to be found in shallower water most of the time compared to clear water lakes. For example, if it’s the spring time, you may find smallmouth bass in 3 to 12 feet of water on a clear lake when they move in to spawn, but they may be found in good numbers in 3 to 6 feet of water in murkier water.
Once the water temperatures warm up in the summer time, they’re still going to be found in deeper water, but it may not be as deep as it would be in clear water. Instead of fishing 20 to 30 feet down, you may end up finding the schools of bigger smallmouth bass in 12 to 20 feet of water. As a rule, fish shallower in murky water and then make the necessary adjustments according to how the bite is on that specific day.
There are always times that fishing fast will work in clear or dark water. However, in murky water, slowing down is a great way to give the bass a chance to find and eat your bait.
Use Noisy Lures
Smallmouth bass love noisy lures, so use lures that have a rattle or a lot of vibration. This will help the bass find your baits. If you’re fishing with soft plastics, use the jighead or drop shot weight to tick the bottom. That noise will usually help draw more strikes, especially in murky water.
Go Heavier with Your Tackle
You can upsize your line a bit which will help you get some of those bigger fish in much easier than with the light tackle that most anglers use for smallmouth bass in clear water. Go ahead and upsize to 10 or 12 pound line and a medium or even medium heavy action rod will do the trick depending on the lure size of course.
Brighten Up Your Lure Colors
You can catch plenty of smallmouth bass with darker lures in murky water, so don’t feel like you have to go super flashy like you would when fishing for northern pike. However, adding a little color can help more smallmouth bass find your lures. Whether it be red, orange, green, blue or some of your other favorites colors, a little extra color that can help brighten up your baits can help a ton in murky water. Also, if you are using soft plastics on some type of jighead, try using a brighter color jighead such as green or orange. A brown crayfish bait with some orange sparkles would stand out even more with an orange jighead. It could be the difference in catching a couple more fish each outing.
Use Topwater Lures
Topwater lures are great in murky water because the noise of the baits will help the bass find your bait. From late spring through early fall, a good topwater bait can make all the difference.