Get “Dirty” with Finesse Tactics

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We all love to pull up to our favorite location for a day of fishing and see water that is what most people consider “perfect”. Now, perfect can be different for everyone, but for most that means “fairly clear” water. Other anglers look for slightly stained water and consider conditions to be just right. For me, I have to say that I look for that slightly stained water and get pretty exited about my day on the water. One thing that most all of us do not enjoy is pulling up to your favorite spot to find muddy water. Over the years I have learned to change my attitude when it comes to fishing in muddy water. Living in southeast Ohio there is one thing that you can be sure of, and that is you are going to find muddy water more often than not. Most of the lakes and rivers in my area become muddy with the slightest bit of rain. They also seem to stay that way for long periods of time. In the past I would simply just stay home or travel long distances in search of better water. But Now, with experience, I have learned that not only is muddy water ok, but sometimes it can be great.

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In the past when faced with these conditions, I would change my game plan completely. We all know that muddy water lends to throwing baits that make a lot of vibration and are dark in color. Most people, including myself, think of dark jigs with bulky trailers, crank baits,chatter baits, spinner baits and bigger profile plastics. Yes these baits do in fact work! The problem that I have had with this in the past is the simple fact that those techniques are not my strong points. I am a finesse fisherman! Give me a Shaky Head or a Ned Rig with a 412 Bait Co. Free Minnow or stick bait any day and I am happy and normally successful. The problem was once the visibility went south, I had it in my head that I couldn’t fish my strengths. I then tried to fish the techniques that I was not as comfortable with and in turn would not be very sucessful.

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So, what do I do now? The obvious thing to do is get better and more comfortable with those techniqes. I have worked hard to improve that part of my game and get more confident every day but that is not the message I am focusing on in this article. I have learned that you can finesse fish in the muddy water with great success. This spring was a great example of this. All of the water that was open for our club MSKA tournament was what I consider muddy. I went out and during prefishing had located a nice pattern and had caught some very nice fish in one of the muddiest waters available. I had it all figured out, I was going to fish a blue Chatter Bait and I just knew it was going to be the only way to catch them in these conditions. Tournament day arrived and I headed out with a sure fire way to catch a winning limit. Wrong! I threw that thing till my arm was sore and nothing wanted it. I was getting pretty frustrated and was in full panic mode. I decided that I just needed to try something else if I were to have any chance. So I tied on a 1/8 oz jig head with a 412 Free Minnow in copperhead color which is a pretty dark bait. I started catching fish and ended up with a 4th place finish on a day when a lot of people were not catching anything at all. In fact, I later found out that the winner of the tournament was also throwing a fineness type presentation similar to mine with just a different color.

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I could go on and on about the many times that I have found success in muddy water by using this type of technique.
What I like to do is just adjust the color of what i am throwing and slow the presentation down. Another key to this is making your casts count. In my experience, the fish are tight to any cover and the difference between a cast and a hookup is very small. Also, don’t be afraid to throw some weightless stuff. A few of my favorites are a texas rigged 412 Free Minnow, or a stick bait.

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So, is finesse fishing always the best technique for muddy water? Maybe not, but next time you are faced with these conditions, don’t let it scare you off! If your tried and true muddy water techniques aren’t producing, give it a shot. I know it has paid off for me!

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