Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

     We have had a lot of rain here in Oklahoma over the last two weeks. Some lakes are two, three and in places four feet above normal levels for this time of year. I'm sure we all know how this effects spawning Sunfishes.

 

     In my part of Oklahoma we have soils with high levels of iron oxide. Do any wade fishing right now and your "tidy whities" will be as red as the infield dirt at Yankee Stadium. Think crushed brick red. Since these soil particles are clays (very small, very light in weight) suspended particles muddy the water around here for weeks.

 

     What I would like to do is start a disscusion on how to deal with high water and turbid conditions. What do you do different, or the same, when fishing in high and/or muddy water? Do you look for clear water or change tactics to deal with conditions? Does going deeper help? What about topwater? Do you think Bluegills, Red-ears and the like stay on or near their nests even with the reduction in sunlight or increased silting-in?

 

I know "muddy" and "high water" are subjective terms and mean different things for folks accross the country but give it a go. Unless you fish in Death Valley you have had to deal with elevated lake levels and off color water.

 

So... let's hear it. How do I catch fish with the crappy conditions I have?

 

    

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Keith, I like your discussion idea here and look forward to some helpful answers. I don't have any. I just do what you are doing in your profile picture, dream about it.
Keith, I head for Pawhuska lake. The conditions over the weekend water was high and murky, I only had visibility down to 7' to 8'!!!! It just the price we have to pay for monsoon season!!!!!
Yeah, but did you catch any Greg?
I hear ya Greg. Wish I could get some time and head up that way. Unfortunatly I am stuck in the "Red Bed" zone for a little while.

I have had a little success fishing the flooded vegitation but all of the fish have been small. The water is really muddy, were talking less than inches of visibility. My best success has been with flies that are solid, dark colors. Lisa has used her micro-light spinning gear a little and caught a few on black spinners with over-sized blades. Silver and gold seemed to be equal.

We get spawning activity from June through August (sometimes into September). I'm not all that worried about recruitment into the population, we always get more little Sunfish than we need to keep the population healthy and feed the other populations but extra feet of coldish muddy water on top of the nests puts a serious crimp on their sex life. Not to mention I loose out on some great fishing.
Anyone else have some suggestions?
I like to go "slow-n-low", so to speak.

I fish slower so that the fish can have more time to find and react to the offering. If I don't have live bait, then I think about presented a flashy streamer on a fly rod, but fish it painfully slow. Bluegill are sight predators, so they really need time to evaluate the bait, then respond to it. I think that fish are just as hungry in muddy waters (maybe even more so), and can definitely be prompted to bite.
Keith, I feel your pain, after years living in Oklahoma and experiencing periods of high water and poor water visibality the only way that I found to guarentee a sucessful fishing adventure under these conditions is "ROAD TRIP" , head south to Texoma or east to Grand Lake,Tenkiller, or Gibson Lake. BrokenBow has some good areas or take a trip to North Arkansas or Southwest Missouri , Find better water untill the water in Oklahoma clears up and returns to normal levels. good luck
Bruce and LotF,R- Amazing how two completely different answers can both be so spot-on!

Fishing low-and-slow as you recomended Bruce, has accounted for what few good fish I have caught over the last week or so. All of the rain dropped water temps by 6-8 degrees. We had a 98 degree (with little or no wind) day today so I imagine the surface temp is back in the mid- to high 80s. I'm sure the fish are still on nests, it's just a little harder to find them with no visability.

Ah... A road trip. To run the open road, wind in my hair, loose monofilament snapping like a bullwhip as it streams from the bed of the truck. I really don't have far to go, either east or west, to find clearer water. Oklahoma is blessed with a lot of water. Maybe we are actually blessed with a lot of dams and the water is a result. Either way, we have hundreds of small city lakes, most of them barring any type of gas motor, that anglers have access to. The large resevoirs are great but for relativly untapped Sunfish resources it's hard to beat the twelve lakes, between 75 and 125 acres in size that are less than an hours drive. A few bass fisherman hit these spots, but other than kids with worms and bobbers, the Bluegills, Red-ear, Green sunfish and Long-ears go unharassed.

What particular lures do some of you use in muddy water?

Keith, I think you will rcognize this spot, bouy is on the west side. Was using eggsucking-leach on sinking line as you can see I was quite a ways out from the bouy. I like big black flies this was in the evening. I agree with both Bruce and LotF,R. Road trip for sure, but if you can't trip go low and slow.
After sunset along rocky dams poppers are a good ticket!!!!!!!!!!!!
Greg-
That is a great photo! A dang nice fish too. You bet I recognize that spot, I have had my sonar over that area and there is a cool hump on the bottom right there. I'm sure you've seen it when the plants get tall. They come almost to the surface around there somewhere.

Lisa and I have trolled that spot with our flyrod as well and picked up some pretty big Crappie.

We have gone nearly 6 days with no rain and the daytime temps are getting near 99 every day. Summer patterns should get back to normal pretty quick.
Well... I guess I have found the best-all-time-greatest solution to high and/or muddy water! TIME!

No rain for two weeks now and hotter than a swimsuite model eating pancakes. Lakes are pretty much back to normal and water clarity is as good as it ever gets around here. Finding fish is pretty easy this time of year in Oklahoma. If there's shade, they will be there. Now, getting them to bite is another story.

Of course the "Golden Hours" still apply. Here they are the half-hour before and after sunrise and the hour before full dark.

Right now the big bite is on for emerging damselflies. These wriggley little nymphs make a mad dash for the surface in crowds. They try to haul out on emergent plants to escape being eaten. Some make it, some don't and some are imitations with a hook hidden inside!

I find that a quick "line twist" retrieve works best. Fish just slam a damselfly nymph fly. I think it is because the fish know they might only get one chance at the speedy little buggers.

I appreciate everyone's input on how to deal with high and muddy water. Maybe now I need to start a post about dealing with really hot weather?

Thought it might be about time to bring this post back.

 

Anyone already in the rainy season? We haven't had any measureable rainfall since November or so but when we break a drought, we generally do so with a flood.

 

So.. who is dealing with high and/or muddy water already this year? How are you doing so?

 

Keith

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