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Tips to Catch Bass in High Water

With record rains, it’s a common problem this year

If you fill it, they will come. That’s a bankable principle bass anglers follow when big rains raise lake levels. Rivers rise, spillways gush, water invades the shallows, and fish run to the bank.

It’s mostly an appetite thing; the dominant motivator, second only to spawning, that guides all bass behavior. But while the murkiness of swiftly rising water gives bass a layer of cover that facilitates ambush feeding, Texas bass pro Alton Jones points out a couple of key principles that’ll help you catch more fish in these conditions.

“Bass use the turbulent water as camouflage for feeding, but when their ability to see decreases because of that turbidity, the bass have to hang closer to shallow objects like stumps or rocks so they can effectively ambush their prey,” says Jones. “They’re going to be as close as they can be to feel secure around that piece of cover.”

For anglers, this means smaller strike zones. Fish won’t move far to get a bait in murky water, so success often demands precise casts — often multiple shots — to specific targets.

Helpful here are larger profile baits that move more water and make it easier for fish to sense their approach. Think: big spinnerbaits with double Colorado blades, larger body squarebill crankbaits like the Rat-L-Trap Echo or Strike King’s KVD 8.0, vibrating swim jigs paired with a tuned swimbait and hefty jigs with rattle chambers and bulky trailers.

Don’t go crazy with the colors; darker natural patterns that create stark contrast and easily defined outlines tend to produce best. With plastics, coloring tails and claw tips with eye-catching chartreuse dye helps.

Good thing about turbid water is that the fish’s reduced visibility allows you to fish whatever line you prefer. Whereas braid or heavy fluorocarbon might be too much for clearer conditions, rising water affords you the benefit of gearing up to yank those fish out of whatever shallow cover they invade.

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