Question: What Baits to use for Shallow Clear Water

Name: Ryan Moore

Subject: Rock Bass

Message: We have a cottage on Higgins Lake in Northern Michigan. (link of Higgins) We do a lot of boat fishing and a lot of dock fishing. (dock fishing is more common so we can go out quickly). There are a ton of red eyed rock bass and some trout and perch, but even in the cooler temps they tend to hide under the dock pretty good. Even in the early morning. The lake is amazingly clear. What set up do you recommend to lure these guys so they are a little more attracted to the lure? Size of the lure is always a question, because the fish are a little smaller 9 inches or so. There are a ton of fish under the pontoons we like to try to get to. The water is about 4 feet deep for a long way out. My son is nine, and he is learning quick, and learning his own techniques, but I want to rig him up the best I can to give him the best advantage and a little more success. Types of lures (brands) and (top water, little cranks?) Thank you guys!

Also, when is the Sweetwater clothing coming out? This family will wear it proud!

(Sent via Sweetwater Blog)



Thanks for the question and I hope this answer will launch you and your son into a bright future of catching fish on Higgins Lake!

Higgins Lake seems looks to be a very interesting body of water. Clear water can often be frustrating but it does offer amazing opportunities to study the natural behaviors of the residential fish. I grew up on an extremely clear lake in Washington State and it was on that lake that I truly got hooked on fishing. There is nothing better than being able to see a fish, present a lure to it, and then have the opportunity to watch the fish eat the bait.

Whenever I’m approaching a clear water lake I like to use light tackle. A 6’6” medium light action rod would be great with a small to medium size spinning reel. The fishing line you choose is probably the most important piece of the puzzle. For extreme clear water situations 6lb to 10lb test fluorocarbon line is going to give you the best opportunity to fool a finicky fish. Vicious Pro Elite Flourocarbon would be a great option that you can easily order online. Flourocarbon sinks making it a great option for subsurface baits, and it is virtually invisible under water.

You can check out our video, Choosing Your Fishing Line, for more information on selecting the proper fishing line for the specific application!

The final step to success is selecting the proper bait to get the job done! My absolute number one bait choice for small to medium size fish would be the Zman Finesse TRD. This is a 2.75 inch fish catching machine. It can catch you rock bass from 6 inches long all the way up to big bass if you present it in front of one! I would rig the TRD on a Zman Finesse ShroomZ jig head in the 1/10 size. To rig the bait just simply slide the TRD up on the jig head attempting to make it as straight as possible.

Fully Rigged Finesse Trd on a Shroomz jig head

Fully Rigged Finesse Trd on a Shroomz jig head

The TRD is the perfect choice to cast around docks. With a little casting practice you will actually be able to skip this small light weight bait all the way up under the docks and pontoons, which is almost guaranteed to get you a bite! To work the bait let it sink down to the bottom, and then give it little pops and twitches letting it slowly bounce and crawl on the bottom with occasional pauses. As far as color selection goes I like to use natural colors such as Green Pumpkin or Watermelon in clear water situations.

Hard baits such as small crankbaits and spinners may also work, with topwaters being a decent option in the warmer months of the year. The only problem I could see with the fast moving baits in that specific lake is the fact that rock bass generally don’t like to chase lures. They are much more likely to bite if you bounce a bait on the bottom where they are hiding in the rocks! Trout however do like chasing small spinners which could be a fun opportunity, and from my research on Higgins Lake it appears that it holds a large number of Northern Pike as well, which are incredible predators.

I hope this information helps, I see many great fish catches on the Zman Finesse TRD rigged on a Zman Finesse ShroomZ head in your near future. Stay in touch and let me know how this works once the water warms up a little. Also read our article, My New Favorite Finesse Bait, written by Miles Burghoff.

On a side note keep your eye out for Sweetwater Logo T-Shirts, as well as our Custom Sweetwater Buffs that will be coming out in the near future!

I’ll see you on the water!

Joey Nania