When a clear lake or river muddies up, your first reaction should probably be to find the clearest water available. In the waters I fish, that usually means to either find a feeder that is NOT running dirty, or to get behind the heaviest vegetation you can find. Sudden mud is often the result of thunderstorm, and thunderstorms are often very localized. One creek might be dumping water that looks like coffee with cream into the lake, while a few miles away, or on the opposite side of the lake, another creek might be running clean and clear.
Too, if you have wide bands of heavy vegetation, the farther back into the weeds you get, the clearer the water will often be, as the vegetation acts as a filter. Get to the inside weedline, and you’ll often find the water a lot clearer than it looked from outside the weeds.
Whether vegetation or a clean running stream is causing it, if you can find some clear water in a muddy situation, just fish there and skip the rest of this tip!
On the other hand, there are times that’s just not an option. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to fish the mud for fish that are used to living in clearer water. In that situation, most bass anglers reach for a brightly colored spinnerbait or their loudest, rattling crankbait. Seems to make sense, doesn’t it?
Guess what? The baitfish don’t get brighter in color when the water muddies up. And fishing louder to make up for reduced visibility isn’t usually the answer, either. Heck, that’s the equivalent of hollering so a blind man can hear you. Clear water fish are naturally sight feeders, and aren’t conditioned to relying on sound as a primary means of locating prey as dingy water residents might be. When they encounter muddy water, they can’t just assume the instincts and behavior of a bass that’s conditioned to that kind of environment. So they usually drop their activity level a notch or two, tuck into the tightest crease they can find in nearby cover, and ride out the short term muddy water condition. This is especially the case when an increase in turbidity is accompanied by an increase in current as it so often is.
But at least some of them will eat in that situation, if a vulnerable meal comes close enough to be noticed and to be caught without leaving the security of their holding spot. Your job is to make your lure into that vulnerable meal, and get it right into the fish’s face. Given the tight quarters the fish will likely be occupying under these conditions, flipping is simply the most effective way of doing that.