Friday, January 16, 2009

Bass Fishing in Clear,Shallow Water

What kind of bassin condition gives you the most trouble? Is it cold, muddy water? Deep water? Weedy areas? Most bass anglers I've talked to says clear, shallow water. When bass are in clear shallow water, they are as visible as a neon sign. Yet seeing the bass and catching it is two different matters. You are just as visible to the bass as it is to you, and approaching to within casting distance requires you to be steahlthy, and you have to try and get it to bite at the same time. Shallow bass are as spooky as a deer in a room full of deer hunters, and they will develop lockjaw the moment they detect your presence. Catching bass under these conditions demands a lot of patience as well as an accurate presentation. The majority of the bass I catch here in Illinois is in stained water and thick cover. Finding them and catching them in less than two feet of clear water sounds impossible, but bass can adapt to super clear water. It would seem logical that a bass would inhabit the darkest, deepest areas, but the 12 years I spent in California I found that the clearer the water the more they gravitated to shallower areas, especially in rivers and natural lakes. The reason for this is weed growth is usually thickest in the shallows, and that's where the majority of the bass tend to live. Plus the forage in most clear water is often composed of crawfish, bluegill and shiners; this type of bass forage typically inhibit the shallow, weedy areas and stay away from deep water.
Because clear water lakes contain little plankton, this limits the plankton eating baitfish such as shad. There isn't any real reason for bass to be anywhere but shallow water.
Bass are most likely to be in shallow, clear water in spring when they are spawning. LargeMouth bass will move into the shallows in clear water coves, flats as the water approaches the upper 60 degree range, looking for the best place to build their nest.
I look for bass beds in the northwest corner of the lake, which is mostly protected from the cold north winds and can be around 7-8 degrees warmer than any other place on the lake. Clear water warms more slowly than murky, stained water. I've seen spawning bass
As early as February in stained, murky water and as late as June in a clear body of water. Anytime the lake suddenly rises, always check newly flooded shallows because bass will move into these areas to gorge themselves on insects and other forage trapped there. Any stumps, or weedy areas will hold bass when they're in shallow water. I've seen bass in 7-8 inches of shallow clear water with weed beds.

So go get them bass in shallow, clear water just be as quite as possible and you should have a good day on the water.


  1. Up here in Minnesocold many lakes would be classified as having clear water. I learned how to fish on a lake that had 15-20 feet of visibility. When I was young and fishing for sunfish I would play "keep away" with the sunnies and catch only the one's I wanted to reel in.

    I really enjoy the visual aspect of fishing in clear water. Pike hitting spinnerbaits and bass taking out a bubblegum Super Fluke are my favorites.

  2. Living in South Florida we don't really know the definition of clear water. I fished lake Meade in Nevada and you could spot a dime in 100 feet of water, that's clear water. You have to re-think your approach when fishing crystal clear water. Like your site I'm linking it to my site at
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  3. Great site, very informative, I enjoy reading your posts.