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Understanding Water Clarity

By Mark Romanack

Catching walleye in dirty water is tough, but there are options that put
 the odds of success in favor of the angler. This Detroit River hen hit a
minnow treated with Bad Azz Color Blast.
Water clarity makes a huge difference in walleye fishing success. Ironically, the best fishing conditions do not occur in gin clear water, but rather in stained waters.

If I can look over the back of the boat and barely make out the stainless steel prop, that’s what I consider stained water. Experience has taught me that stained water is the “just right” water clarity for walleye fishing.

At the other extreme anglers are often faced with clear water conditions and also very dirty water. When the water is gin clear fish have the luxury of scrutinizing lures and baits a little too closely.

Wind and run off can often turn a favorite body of water into a sea of chocolate milk. In these conditions visibility is reduced to the point fish struggle to see anything. Not surprisingly in dirty water fishing success often plummets.

It’s slightly stained waters that allow fish the ability to see a significant distance, yet the water is cloudy enough to prevent them from getting too good a look. In these conditions walleye fishing tends to be outstanding regardless of the presentation, time of day or water depth.

It would be great if every day on the water we could count on finding and fishing stained waters. Unfortunately, in the real world of freshwater fishing, less than desirable conditions are more common than we care to admit and anglers must learn to deal with these challenges on the fly.

Clear water is challenging because fish can literally see every detail of your presentation. When forced to fish in clear water it’s best to concentrate efforts early and late in the day when light penetration is at a minimum. The most productive lures are also going to be ones featuring natural colors and lure sizes that closely match the size of available forage. In clear water more subtle action lures generally out-produced high action baits.

Pro Cure’s Bad Azz Color Blast is a great product for treating live bait
 when faced with off color water. The minnow on the top has been
 treated and the minnow on the bottom is natural. It only takes a few
 drops to treat each bait, but the results are amazing to say the least.
When forced to fish dirty water the general opinion is to “bulk up” or use larger lures and baits. The idea is that larger baits are easier for fish to spot in dingy water conditions.

There are however other options that pay off big when fishing in dirty water. Recently while fishing the Detroit River we were faced with muddy water along the Ontario shore. This was the perfect opportunity to experiment with a new product produced by Pro-Cure called Bad Azz Color Blast. This is a liquid bait dye that comes in six UV enhanced colors. When applied to minnows or other live bait it stains the bait a bright shade of magenta, orange, line, red, blue or purple.

I used a few drops of lime and which immediately turned my minnow a bright shade of chartreuse/lime. It took about five minutes to realize this stuff makes baits much more visible in dirty water. Pretty quick everyone in the boat was asking if they could treat their minnow!

Besides dying the bait a bright color it also UV enhances the bait making it even more visible to fish. In short, this stuff is magic for fishing in off color water.

Adding a four inch Fish Flash directly to the back of divers like these
 Tadpoles by Off Shore Tackle is a great way to increase flash when
 targeting walleye in stained to dirty water conditions. Because Fish
 Flash spins on it’s own axis it has zero drag in the water and
 allows the diver to perform as normal.
Another trick for targeting walleye in dirty water plays to flash. Last summer Jake was fishing Saginaw Bay with a buddy. The water was muddy and the boys were struggling to catch fish on the Tadpole Diver and nightcrawler rigs that normally produce well.

Jake added a 4 inch Yakima Bait Fish Flash to his Tadpole Diver and immediately started to catch fish. What was looking like a bust day suddenly turned into a two man limit of walleye.

Fish Flash not only produces pulses of light that attract fish, these triangle shaped attractors have near zero drag in the water and they are also UV treated to increase their fish attracting powers.

The moral of the story is yes it’s typically harder to catch fish in gin clear and dirty water conditions. By adapting anglers can scratch out fish even in the worst of conditions.