Equals Good Fishin’
By Dewayne French
With all the hills and holler’s we have in the Ozarks we are blessed a lot of ponds, streams, rivers, and lakes to fish in and on. On April 30th the Ozarks region experienced a major flood event and it devastated a lot of houses, businesses, and even altered some of or streams. The lakes are all full of water and some were also in danger of having too much of a good thing and had to open flood gates. My place of business got flooded out and we are still in the cleanup stage as a lot of others that I know and talk to. With all of bad flood experiences that occurred, one positive can be taking away, is that we truly live in a great place, neighbors helping neighbors, friends helping friends, church’s helping all, and strangers helping strangers. We do live in a great area of this big ole world.
With all the water we had and in a short amount of time some of our fishing “Holes” took a beating. Some got more fish added to them from the flood waters and some got big rocks and trees deposited in them. Let’s use this month’s write up to focus on fishing during a flood or other high water event. I got a few tips for you all that are itching to go fishing. Depending on what species of fish you are after you may have to alter these to fit.
1. Head To The Bank
This is actually very applicable to bass fishing a lake or even a river in high water. Rising water means more flooded cover, and also increased current, both combine to push baitfish and bass straight to the bank. When you’re fishing in high water, you really can’t get too shallow. You want to focus all your efforts on the shallowest cover available in the area you choose to fish weather it is river or lakes or even a pond. Fish swim jigs or swimbaits through the flooded bushes to catch the big one.
2. Find A Eddy or back flowing area
In river systems, high water means a very fast ripping current – and most fish just aren’t physically built to fight current all day long. For that reason, they congregate in areas that allow them respite from the current. Focusing on current breaks, and the eddies they create, as this is one of the quickest ways to find fishing action when the water’s high. Eddies allow bass, catfish, crappie and other fish to hang in an area with ease, just out of the current, while staying close enough to nab any baitfish or crawdad that might wash their way.
3. Look for Clear Water
Muddy water not only obscures visibility for fish, but it can also make the bite tougher by decreasing their feeding activity. This effect is most dramatic the first few days of high water, as the bass and trout will eventually adjust to the murkier conditions and catfish love the new bugs and food that the rain brought in. To compensate while fishing flooded lakes, start your search for bass by looking for the cleanest water possible, because it will almost always harbor the most active bass. For catfish search out the eddies and pool areas with fresh smelly bait. For trout look for that clean water that is conducive for them to survive in.
4. Think Bold and smelly
When the visibility is low, bass have to rely almost entirely on their lateral lines to feed – which means you have to amp up your presentations to get their attention. The same baits may be effective, but you’ve got to tweak them a little bit. Opt for spinnerbaits with thumping Colorado blades, vibrating jigs, bulky plastics, and loud rattling crankbaits in high water. It also pays off to use colors that will show up well in the murk – like dark blacks and blues for plastics, or bright chartreuses and oranges for winding baits. For catfish the smelliest bait you can find will bring them in to your hook.
Also when fishing a river find the slack water areas where friction actually plays a part in where fish will be laying in the current. The current is always slower on the bottom and along the banks so if you’re a trout fishermen you may have to use some “split shot” on your larger and brighter fly patterns to get them down to the fish. So fish the edges, generally within a foot of the bank and within inches of the bottom because that’s here fish hold. Increasing river flows and rising water increases the amount of food available for trout. Many aquatic insects get flushed off the bottom of the stream, while others emerge from the freshly submerged stream banks.
Any way you look at it go fishing and enjoy our beautiful Ozarks Outdoors. Be safe and take extra precautions as a lot of debris has filled into some of our good fishing holes. Take extra care in boating on the area lakes because of all the floating debris and trash that is there. Please help pick up and clean up if you can. Catch me on the water, if you can?