Tips for fishing clear mountain lakes in fall

Steve Hendrix from Greenville, S.C., put a post up after last week’s column saying that there’s very little grass in the lakes he fishes. He wanted some tips on fishing super clear, cold water mountain lakes that have very little cover in them and that fluctuate 20 to 30 feet each year.

Here goes, Steve:

Start by using light line. Regardless of whether or not a fish knows its line, they can sense that something’s wrong when they can see fishing line coming off a lure. And don’t be afraid that you’re going to break off or lose big bass with 6 and 8-pound-test line. That’s what your drag is for. Set it properly and you’ll land anything that grabs your lure.

Test your drag by pulling line from the tip of the rod down towards your feet. Make sure you have a good bend in the rod. Do not test your drag by pulling line straight off the reel. That’ll give you a false sense of security.

There are two ways to handle the fluctuating water. You can fish really deep. They’ll be less affected by it than the ones living shallow. The other approach is follow the old rule — fish off the bank when the water is falling and fish up against the bank when it’s rising.

As far as lure choice is concerned I’d recommend four, in no particular order.

Try a Luck “E” Strike jerkbait. There are three sizes and depth ranges to choose from and a ton of different colors. Since the water you’re fishing is super clear, I’d say you should start with a shad color. Pick something that’s as close to the natural forage as you can get.

Keep your bait moving unless the water is really cold. You’re looking for a reaction bite with this lure.

Another good choice would be a walking stick of some sort. There are several good ones on the market so pick the one that walks best for you and the one you have the most confidence in when you’re on the water.

Just like with your jerkbait you should keep the bait moving across the surface at a fairly good clip. Don’t let them get a good look at it. Almost any color will do so long as it resembles a shad.

There’s one thing you want to keep in mind when you’re fishing a walking stick. The water is clear. The bass will come from deep water to smash it, sometimes as deep as 25 or 30 feet.

My third recommendation is to fish a Senko-type bait or a trick worm. Sometimes they’ll hit it best if it’s wacky rigged through the egg sack. At other times, they seem to want it Texas rigged weightless through the nose. I like watermelon.

My final bait choice would be a drop shot rig. Small worms rigged wacky style are as good as anything to start with. But, almost any small plastic will work on a given day. Don’t be afraid to change things up if you aren’t getting bit. Use any color you want just make sure it has a little purple in it.

Give these a try, Steve. Then send me a full report. I want to know how you’re doing.

Chris Lane’s column appears weekly on You can also find him on and or visit his website,