I recently fished a 300-acre lake I’d been on once before more than 10 years ago. In other words, I knew virtually nothing about it.
My fishing partner for the day was Greg Huff. He oversees the NAFC’s Facebook page (www.Facebook/fishingclub), so when he suggested we solicit input from NAFC's Facebook fans on how to approach this “new” water, I thought it was a brilliant idea.
To help get the ball rolling, we provided the following information:
-- Size of lake: 300 acres
-- Water clarity: 3 to 5 feet
-- Maximum depth: 80 feet
-- Bottom composition: sand/gravel/muck
-- Vegetation present: bulrushes, cattails, coontail and milfoil
-- Target species: largemouth bass
-- Weather conditions: 70 degrees, post cold front
-- Time of year: spawn/post spawn
I use water clarity as one of my primary factors when deciding where to start fishing -- and even when. In general, I fish shallower in waters with limited clarity (a foot or two of visibility); and fish deeper when faced with clear to ultra-clear waters. Water clarity determines depth of weedlines and in lakes with limited clarity, weedlines may max out at 7 or 8 feet, while they may go to 20 feet or deeper in clear lakes. That’s important, because species like bass usually relate closely to vegetation.
Water clarity in the lake on the day we fished was about 4-5 feet. Where did we find the biggest concentrations of bass? In 7-10 feet of water, concentrated the most near the deep weed edge.
Frankly, I had expected to find more fish up shallow, holding tight to cover in a couple feet of water or less. But when an hour of fishing produced only two small bass, we left the shallows and began probing deeper.
Some of our Facebook fans had suggested doing that very thing -- starting shallow and then moving deeper if bites were hard to come by.
I caught most of my fish on Texas-rigged Powerworms in both 7- and 10-inch sizes. Greg tried a spinnerbait early and creature baits around docls, but ultimately found success also with Texas-rigged Powerworms and, later, 4- and 5-inch Berkley Heavyweight worms rigged wacky style. Indeed, several Facebookers had suggested Texas rigs and wacky-wormed stickbaits.
We landed dozens of bass to 5 pounds, a day for the ages!
If you are looking to become a better angler, take the new-lake challenge. Fish as many new bodies of water as you can. Rely on your knowledge of the lake type and your targeted species, and build a game plan for the conditions. If fishing’s tough (it usually is at first), begin making big changes in location and presentation until you get things figured out. On familiar bodies of water, it’s easy to fall back on memories and favorite lures and locations, and when you get in that rut, innovation suffers