John's Journal...


Bill Dance on Flood-Water Bass

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Editor’s Note: Some people think that the only time to have a good day of bass fishing is when the lake is down and clear. Well, this is just not true for the bass fishing pros with whom I’ve talked. This week they’ll tell us why they love to fish in flood waters from Florida all the way to Texas. Here are some new tricks to find the big bass.

Another angler who fishes muddy water when the lakes are on the rise is national TV personality Bill Dance of Collierville, Tennessee. "When you choose to fish muddy water, you consistently will catch more bass when the sun is high in the sky, and the day is very bright than you will on overcast days," Dance explains. "Muddy water occurs during the fall, the winter or the early spring when the water temperature is cold. The muddy water causes the bass to move up shallow. I believe that when the sun is high and bright and producing a lot of heat, the water warms up quicker, the fish feel more comfortable, and they feed more actively."

Click to enlargeAnytime Dance locates clear, warm water under flood-water conditions, he has found he can catch fish. "One of the best areas to fish when a lake is rising is in the mouth of a spring-fed creek," Dance mentions. "Because a spring usually will have a more consistently warm temperature in the fall and early spring and be clearer than the water in a flooded reservoir, often the baitfish and the bass will be congregated there. In these regions, the lake will clear up the quickest and will be the warmest. Generally bass in this section of the water will be the most active. A shallow-running crankbait and/or a spinner bait may be your best lures to try in these places." Another area under flood-water conditions that is a confidence zone for Dance to fish is shallow flats off the current near deep water. "Once the weather stabilizes and no more runoff water comes into the lake, the shallow flats away from the current will warm up first," Dance explains. "But because bass know about falling water, if they're not holding on the bushes, stumps and logs on the flats, they'll be concentrated on the edge of the deepest water closest to the flats. The floods usually come in the spring when the weather is warming up and the bass are thinking about spawning. Even under flood water conditions, the fish will be looking for the warmest, most-shallow water they can find with some type of cover."

Click to enlargeDance also will be searching for bass next to the shore once the water stabilizes after a flood. The shoreline will clear and warm up first. Since anglers know bass are looking for clear, warm water, they should realize fish must be up against the shore. One of the reasons anglers hesitate to fish flood waters is because when a lake or river drastically increases its size, the fish tend to spread out, which anglers believe makes the bass harder to find and catch. However, generally when a lake or a river floods, most of the bass will be relatively easy to pinpoint. Usually they will be holding close to the shoreline in shallow water. Even though there is more shoreline to fish, you can cover this region quickly and spend most of your time in the most productive bass waters. Another factor that many anglers fail to realize when they look at a flooded lake or a river is that there are variations in water color and clarity throughout the lake.

"In most lakes, you will notice three different color changes of water," Dance says. "If rain water is still coming into the lake, the upper reaches of the lake will be the most muddy. The middle area of the lake will be less muddy than the upper part of the lake, and the clearest water should be at the lower end of the lake. When the rain water stops, the water clears first in the upper end of creeks and remains muddiest the longest in the main body of the lake. As a fisherman looks at a flooded lake and sees how muddy that lake is, he must understand that the whole lake may not Click to enlargebe as muddy as the section he sees. Wherever you find clearing, warming water is where you often will locate the most actively-feeding bass."

Basically two techniques will help you pinpoint the best water to fish when a lake floods. The quickest and most expensive way is to charter an airplane and fly over the lake. From your aerial observations, you can see where water color change occurs, which areas have the clearest water and in what regions the water is the most stained. You also can spot the edges of the water. Then you will know how much timber you will have to go through to get to the newly flooded land where the bass like to feed.


Check back each day this week for more about THE PROS' TACTICS TO TAKING FLOOD WATER BASS

Day 1: Shaw Grigsby
Day 2: Gary Klein on Flood-Water Bass
Day 3: Paul Elias on Flood-Water Bass
Day 4: Bill Dance on Flood-Water Bass
Day 5: More Bill Dance on Flood-Water Bass



Entry 308, Day 4