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Opinions Needed...please

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The city I live in dammed up a river some years ago(50+) to produce hydroelectric power for it's residents. Behind this dam lies about a 3mi. stretch that is accessible by boat. The water is stained to muddy all year long and subject to approx. 3' of water fluctuation a day on average. Depending on rainfall amounts and the dam generation schedule, the turbines will pull water for approx. 2hrs. thus dropping the river level to the maximum they will allow. After that, the turbines are shut off for about 10hrs. to allow the river level to rise back to the top of the spillway. The process is then repeated.

I have fished this area for about 15yrs. and typically the best fishing is during high water and also about the first 2hrs. they begin to generate current. The river has a good population of LM and SM, and a ton of spots. Other species include sunfish, crappie, catfish and carp. The river channel is deep and navigable with abundant shoreline cover in the form of wood. The 2 main structural features are channel bends and mudflats.

The toughest fishing occurs when the river is very low. Even after the level begins to rise the fish don't usually become aggressive until the river is within 1' of full pond. Fishing will usually remain good until the river drops again to the same level. This finally leads me to my question.

Do you think that these fish suspend during this time, making them difficult to catch? Or could it be that the fish are just inactive until they feel conditions are optimum for aggressive feeding? I honestly don't know if these bass burrow up tight in the cover, suspend over deeper water or hunker down tight to the bottom when they are inactive. Could be all three I suppose but after all the time I have invested in this area I would enjoy some fresh opinions. What do you folks think?

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Falling water levels on what is effectively a "river" always shuts off the bite. Rising water, especially with current, stirs the bottom, activates the plankton which stimulates the baitfish and alerts the predatores that it's dinner time.

So, that's when you're gonna catch 'em!

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Thanks RW. I just wonder how the fish position themselves when they are inactive in this particular system. Should I stay around the thickest cover available, maybe fish bottom hugging lures or throw some jerkbaits for suspending bass? Any ideas?

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I'll start out by saying that I am by no means a river fishing expert, heck...I am not an expert period. But, during low water situations it would make sense to me that bass would hold VERY VERY tight to any available submerged cover or structure that IS NOT directly in the current.

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I would suspect that the fish are on the bottom during low water situations,especially in the summer months.Anytime the river is low like you describe,I always fish for a reaction strike.

Another way to think about it is the area that the fish are in and how deep that particular area is......if the water is only 8ft when its down and the fish are on the bottom,they could effectively feed on pretty much anything whether it be topwater,jerkbaits or bottom baits since they can most likely see that far and dont have that far to go to hit any of them.If the presentation is good and it appeals to the fish,they should bite.A reaction strike is definitely what I shoot for during the low water times that the fish seem sluggish.

Just try a bunch of different baits,different colors,presentations and cover the water column from top to bottom thoroughly.......and remember,sometimes the fish just won't bite no matter what you do.

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