This is the time of the year when you arrive at the dock only to see water that looks like pea soup. Some anglers turn around and head home, but the savvier ones launch their boats anyway and spend the day catching bass.
I’ve fished algae blooms all over the country. There is nothing to fear. You can catch bass under that green scum if you make a couple of simple changes in your approach.
Before we get into those changes, however, a word of caution is in order. Most algae blooms are harmless but there are some that can be dangerous. If you’re looking at one, it would be wise to check with the local health department or DNR agency. They’ll give you the scoop on the bloom you’re worried about. And, always wash your hands after they’ve been in algae covered water — baby wipes are great for this — and never drink any of the water.
Whenever I run into one of these things I fish it like it was muddy water. The only real difference is color. Muddy water’s brown. Algae water is green. They both reduce visibility.
When a bloom hits most of the bass will move towards the first available heavy cover. As it gets heavier they’ll move farther back, into the cover. Docks and patches of heavy vegetation, especially coontail, are prime. Super big, heavy laydowns with lots of limbs and brush in them are good places to look, too.
As the bloom lessens the bass will move back out towards open water, and they won’t wait very long to do it.
Bait choice is critical. They can’t bite your lure if they can’t find it. I usually start with a Molix Lover. That’s a vibrating jig that’s a little smaller than most of the other ones and has a really unique vibration to it.
I make long casts and bring it back to the boat with a gently lift and fall motion. I call that feathering the bait. The idea is to move the bait just enough to get a strong vibration but slow enough to give the bass time to hunt for it. The long cast helps with the hunt part.
Lots of times I’ll add a curly tail or boot tail grub as a trailer. That’ll increase the bulk, the vibration and the visibility.
Plastics are far from my first choice of lures in an algae bloom. Sometimes, though, you have no other option. They’re the only thing you can get into and through heavy brush and other forms of snag prone cover. When I have to use them I always put a glass rattle in them. A little bit of noise makes all the difference in the world.
Dark colors are popular in low visibility conditions but I don’t like them for algae blooms. My preference is for bright, flashy hues. I especially like orange and chartreuse. The fish seem to be able to see them and target them.
Give these ideas a try the next time you’re faced with algae. Don’t believe the nonsense you sometimes hear about algae blooms, like the fish don’t bite under them. Nothing could be farther from the truth.