Techniques for beating the murky water at SARL and Corona…(w/ pics and video!)
That’s obviously a time lapsed video. The real length of that footage is about 6 hours. While it will take days for that water to completely clear up, within only a few hours you can already see where you need to be fishing…UP TOP!!! If you are fishing on the bottom, you are fishing in the mud and you are severely limiting your chances of catching fish.
Mentally transform yourself into a big fat tailwalker for just a moment…you’ve spent your entire “pre-stocked” life, from small “fry” to adulthood, in plastic lined containers with crystal clear water and an abundance of food. As the pools you’ve lived in are mostly isolated from outside food sources, you’ve been looking up your entire life for that next meal. So when the water column is separated out as seen in the video above, are you going to swim down, through the murkiest, barely breathable water to forage for food?? NO WAY! You are going to find the clearest water you can and continue to look up for that heavenly fish “manna” to fall from from the sky.
So it’s obvious that you need to be fishing higher in the water column. The fish will find that happy medium where they are out of danger from being spotted by external predators (pelicans, cormorants, people, etc.) yet where they can continue to do what they need to do to survive. It turns out that “bait and wait” fishing will almost always be more productive in murky water. Thus, the best and most obvious available option is to locate where in the water column the fish are hanging and fish a bait at the appropriate depth by RIGGING IT WITH A BOBBER.
Bobber fishing is something most of us did as kids and is also a tool that most anglers have put away since they caught their last bluegill. While incredibly underutilized, bobber fishing can be one of the most productive and versatile methods of catching fish. Bobber fishing can also be complicated believe it or not and small details can severely strengthen or weaken your odds at getting a hold of that next biggun’. So I’ll do my best to break things down here…
Bobbers can be placed within two main categories: 1) sliding and 2) conventional, each shown below.
Bobbers can be picked up just about anywhere and typically cost somewhere around a dollar or two each. They can even be made pretty easily if you have the time/desire. Each type of bobber has its advantages and disadvantages as well as an appropriate usage. However, there are a few general guidelines that should be followed regardless of bobber type.
1) Use the right size bobber – Bobbers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You want to use the appropriate size bobber for what you are fishing. Too small a bobber and it will be drug down into the water by the weight of your tackle and bait, defeating the entire purpose of the bobber. Too large a bobber and the fish will sense the resistance when it strikes your bait and drop it. The right size bobber will have the highest degree of sensitivity and least amount of resistance in the water resulting in more observable strikes and more positive hook sets. The right size bobber is the one that stays afloat right at the color line on the bobber, not too high, not too low.
2) The brightest colors are on the top of the bobber – typically bobbers will be painted in at least two colors: white and some other bright color, commonly red, blaze orange, neon yellow, etc. The white underside makes them virtually invisible when looked at in the water from below (ever wonder why a lot of fish have white bellies? There ya go…). The bright tops allow the angler to see the bobber quickly and easily from a distance. It’s also important to have the bobber the right way up as most bobbers are built to work best in their proper orientation.
3) Fish every depth until you find them – A lot of anglers have a tendency to fall into “routines” and use the same set up they used the time before whether or not it is producing. I am not excluded from this generalization! One of the great things about bobbers is that these little tools allow you to put the bait at a very precise depth and keep it there. It is also incredibly easy to change the depth that you are fishing, most commonly without even having to retie your rig. An easy way to measure your leader length and thus your depth is to “know your wingspan”. In other words, know the distance from the fingertips of your right hand to the fingertips of your left hand when your arms are fully outstretched. My “wingspan” is about 5 feet 6 inches and I’m a pretty average sized guy. To fish about 10 feet, that is 2 “wingspans”. So keep changing your depth until you’re getting bit!
So far, so easy, right? Are you ready to go slay ‘em in the muck on the bobber yet? Hold on, we’re getting there!
Conventional bobbers are what everyone is probably most familiar with. The classic half red, half white spheres probably remind you of fishing with your dad or even your own kids for small panfish. However, conventional bobbers have an appropriate time and place that truly can result in big fish!
Conventional bobbers can be divided into three main components as illustrated at the end of this section. A) The float, B) the plunger, and C) the clip.
To put a conventional bobber on your line, simply depress the plunger with your thumb. This will raise the hook on the top of the bobber. Place the bobber onto your line with the appropriate length of leader trailing from it. Now flip the bobber over and cover the hook you just brought your line through with your thumb. Now, depress the plunger by pushing along its rim so that the hook in the center of the plunger is exposed. Place the line under this hook and let the plunger loose. You’re all set. It’s truly that easy.
Below your bobber you may want to run a small bit of weight especially if you are using bait that floats such as dough bait. When I use a conventional bobber setup, I will usually run a 1.5 inch bobber with a small #5, #7, or #9 splitshot at whatever appropriate length below it. The hook you use will depend on whatever bait you are using. I use a size 14-16 treble for dough baits and size 10 single barbed hooks for fishing worms.
The biggest and most obvious advantage to a conventional bobber rig is in its simplicity. It takes 2 seconds to install and modify your fishing depth with these things. They can also be easily casted. We’ll see why this is a distinct advantage in a second when we discuss slip bobbers. Lastly, they are a cheap and readily available alternative in bobber selection. Places that carry even very limited fishing goods will almost always have conventional bobbers in stock.
In my personal opinion, the disadvantages of conventional bobbers FAR outweigh their advantages and I VERY rarely use them. The biggest disadvantage of conventional bobbers is that they are very rough on the line and create a point that is prone to breakage on larger fish. After the endless hours we put in searching for that monster, there is no greater pain than feeling the line give because of a weak spot in the line. Conventional bobbers are also limited in how deep you can fish a bait below them. If the fish are 15 feet down, there is no way you can get to them using a conventional bobber as it would require 15 feet of line whipping through the air during your cast! And then what happens when you catch a fish? If you have a long leader behind your bobber, you will have a difficult time getting that fish to net.
So when is an appropriate time to use a conventional bobber? If the fish are very shallow (<7-10 feet) and/or you need to cast a bit of distance to get to them, a conventional bobber may be the way to go. Also, if you know the fish are up high and a conventional bobber is all you can get to, GO FOR IT! Don’t stick your bait in the mud all day because you were afraid to lose a big fish. You gotta hook the big fish before you can lose it and if you’re fishing in the mud all day, I can nearly guarantee that you’ll be going home with the good ol’ skunk stripe.
Slip bobbers are a bit more complicated than conventional bobbers but they are also more versatile. A slip bobber allows your fishing line to pass through it rather than be directly attached to a single point on your line meaning that you can fish virtually any depth with ease! However, to do so requires more components than simply a bobber.
To fish a slip bobber, you will need: A) a bead and a stop knot, B) a slip bobber, C) a bit of weight, and D) your hook/bait. Each of these letters corresponds with the diagram at the end of this section.
Stop knots and beads are both placed above your bobber and designate the depth at which your bait will be fished. If you want to fish 20 feet deep, simply place your line stop 20 feet above the end of your line. Stop knots are commonly included with slip bobbers and are easy to apply. The line stop will be a small nylon line wrapped around a plastic tube. You begin applying your stop knot by first running your fishing line through the plastic tube. You then slide the line stop off of the tube and begin gently tightening it around your line by pulling on the tag ends. Tighten the line stop until it is snug but not too tight. If you do not over tighten the line stop, you will be able to move it up and down your line to adjust your depth. Finish the application by trimming the tag ends and running the bead between the line stop and the slip bobber. You want the size of your bead to be slightly larger than the diameter of your top guide so that it does not end up falling down to your reel while fighting a fish. Line stops are commonly bright colors so that you can recognize when they are in contact with your slip bobber. You can also tell that the line stop has met the slip bobber because your bobber will suddenly stand straight up. If your bobber does not stand straight up either you are bit (which is great!) or you are on the bottom/some obstruction (not so great).
Slip bobbers come in an assortment of shapes, styles and sizes. Again, you want to choose the appropriate size. In addition, you also want to choose something that will glide easily through the water. The most fluid dynamic bobbers will be long and sleek. I typically use a slip bobber that is about 4 inches long and about ¾ of an inch in diameter.
In many cases, you will need to run some weight below your slip bobber to get your bait down. You do NOT have to use weight for baits that sink. Baits such as nightcrawlers that have not been inflated will sink slowly through the water column. Sometimes this is a real benefit. If you find that your ‘crawler is getting hit consistently on the fall, shorten up your leader as the fish are probably a bit higher up in the water column than your line stop is set. If I use a sinker, I will again typically use a #5, #7, or #9 splitshot about 1-2 feet up from my bait. This will not only assist in bringing your bait down but will also keep your bobber from sliding off if you end up breaking your line. Just below my weight I will often tie a small barrel swivel to the end of my line so that if my line does break, I can simply change out a small leader rather than having to re-rig a large portion of my line. Hook and bait selection are the same as listed in the conventional bobber section.
A few things to consider when using a slip bobber…I prefer to use a rod with wire guides. Wire guides will often have a slightly larger diameter than ceramic guides allowing the line stop to pass more freely through them. Also, I will only rarely cast a slip bobber. The addition of the line stop means that your line will almost always get hung up during a cast resulting in the loss of your bait and fouling of your line. The best way to deploy a slip bobber is to let out a rod’s length of line and set the bait and bobber in the water. Feed it line until you have achieved your desired distance away from your boat, float tube, or the shore.
The advantages of using a slip bobber are numerous and I’m sure that I will forget to list a few here. Probably the biggest advantage of using a slip bobber is that they allow you to fish your bait at virtually any depth. The line stop easily winds through your guides and onto the reel meaning that you can fish as deep or as shallow as you desire. Also, slip bobbers can commonly be used as conventional bobbers as well. Best of both worlds! Slip bobbers that can be used in either fashion often will have a spring at their base to keep the bobber on the line. The streamlined shape of slip bobbers allows them to glide through the water more easily than the spherical shape of your average conventional bobber. And lastly, slip bobbers are very easy to see at a distance being that they are usually quite tall.
The biggest disadvantage to a slip bobber rig is in its complexity. Rigging all of the various components for a slip bobber takes a bit of time; however, once it is done correctly, you’re done and you can fish with it all day. You can do the majority of your rigging at home the night before you go fishing if you really want to save time. Every once in a while your slip bobber will need to be changed. The line passing through the slip bobber will eventually groove the plastic of the bobber. If the bobber is grooved, it is no longer any good as the line can no longer pass freely through it. In my opinion, all of these issues are incredibly minor and are easily dealt with. Thus, when the water gets murky, you’ll find me out there running a slip bobber, changing depths and baits until I find ‘em!
Scents are a great tool for use in the murky water. Like many predators, trout rely primarily on their eyes for identifying prey. When you limit their ability to see by mucking up the water, they will turn to other sources of information, one of those being their noses. Trout do not have a very keen sense of smell so utilizing a scent is not going to bring every fish in the lake running to your bait. However, a proper scent will turn a fish that may have not seen the bait in the first place. Scents will also cause a fish to hold on to your bait a bit longer than if no scent had been applied. I personally like the Nitro/Eagle Claw/Crave scents and NO, I am not just saying that because I am in the SARL/Corona Lake forum! I have had a ton of success with these scents. I like that the same scents are available in a variety of formats from oils to greases. Most commonly I will use the Nitro grease in garlic scent on my plastics and for live/dough baits, I use the gravy as a dip. I have used some of the Berkeley products in the past and have had decent success but my biggest fish have come on the Nitro/Crave/Eagle Claw stuff and like all fisherman, I have my superstitions. Just my humble opinion and thus far, my opinion has worked for me!
And on to baits!
“What ya using?” is the most common question I get while I’m out on the water and someone sees me catching fish. After I tell them, the most common response is “What?? How?? That’s the same bait I’m using!” If you’ve gotten to this point, you’ve probably figured out (or maybe you already knew) that everything leading up to your hook is of equal or greater importance than what is actually on your hook! However, baits are definitely important and there surely are some baits that will produce more than others on rainy/murky days.
WORMS! ‘Nuff said. Worms are by far the most productive baits on murky days. The reason for this is obvious. Along with all of that sediment that the rain water brings into the lake come all the critters that lived in that sediment. If you’ve ever been outside during the rain (and I surely hope you have been!) you’ve seen all of the worms come out of the ground. An abundance of worms in the water column is like a buffet for these fish. So include your bait in that buffet! “Match the hatch” so to speak and include your worm in the mix!!
Dough baits will work and one trick to making them work more effectively is to make your bait big. I will nearly double the size of my dough baits during murky days to make them more visible. Adding a plastic worm in a “power mouse” type setup also seems to help a bit. But again, I refer you to the paragraph above. Get yourself some nightcrawlers. Break out the dough baits only when you feel like trying something different.
To sum up…
While the weather we have been having has not been typical, I would venture to say that it is far from being awful! With changes in the status quo come new opportunities. And those opportunities for southern California anglers include overstocked lakes and small crowds to contend with. So break out the bobbers! Fish ‘em up high. Do not sit your bait in the mud all day because I can nearly guarantee that if you do, all you will catch is a nice day of fishing rather than a great day of catching! If you’ve never fished a slip bobber, you should fix that! Lather on a scent and stop by the bait shop to grab a carton of jumbo nightcrawlers. At SARL, you DO NOT WANT TO CAST FAR FROM THE SHORELINE! Within casting distance of the shoreline you can easily go from 0 feet deep to 50 feet deep. No need to fish that deep water. The shoreline dips off quickly and as shore anglers you have the advantage of being able to fish over a broad range of bottom contour. Keep your baits in close as fish will often be cruising in tight to the shoreline. Corona Lake has several inlets strewn around the lake and I’ve found ALL of them to produce fish when the water goes dark. Corona is not nearly as deep as SARL yet the fish will still be holding up high. The water column experiment that began this thread holds true even in shallower lakes and it holds true for Corona.
Utilizing these methods will not mean “wide open” fishing every time you go out. But doing things correctly with the water conditions as they are will greatly increase your odds at scoring! They work for me and they can definitely work for you. The fish are there and are definitely biting. All you have to do is get out there and find what they want! I would kill to be able to get out there tomorrow but it turns out that work requires you to show up in order for them to pay you…go figure!!
Let me know if and when you get out there and slay ‘em. Throw the pics up here so that I can at least feel like I went fishing while I’m stuck at work!! THANKS FOR READING!!!
Last edited on FNN by sapdawg11; Today at 03:32 PM.
1/5/11…Corona Lake…Practice what you preach!!!
Just a quick report and some pics as I am JUST getting home from a work day that started at 5 a.m.. But thinking about the fishing I had Wednesday got me through today and thus, I felt like sharing!
What a lake, what a day, WHAT A LIFE! I put in a loooooooooooong day of work on Tuesday so that I could get out and hit Corona on Wednesday. The long hours were definitely worth it as I was able to catch a BOATLOAD of fish on the tube. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the weather that gorgeous out there. The surface of the lake was like a mirror nearly all day long (just look at the pics!). EVERYTHING I caught from the tube was up top on the SLIP BOBBER and a NIGHTCRAWLER. I did not catch a single fish with a bait below 8 feet deep. Not one. Yup, I do practice and tend to believe what I preach!
Wednesday was such a great day that I put in another loooooong one at work today so that I could get out there and wet a line again tomorrow. If you’re out there, be sure to say hi!!! I may be napping on the tube with this stupid schedule I’ve put myself on so feel free to nudge me if I look passed out…Good grief I LOVE THIS GAME!
A few pics…AND VIDEO COMING SOON…that’s as soon as I’m not fishing that is!
Can you see it???? It’s looking right at you…
GET OUT THERE!!! THEY ARE THERE!!!!!!