Algae Bloom Bass

Don’t Ignore Algae Bloom Bass

(By: Jerry Carlson)



It happens every year to a smattering of lakes in the Midwest. The clear, pristine water of early summer starts to deteriorate to shades of green. As the run-off hits the lakes and the phosphorus turns plant growth into high gear, algae blooms decrease water clarity to near zero and fishing takes on a different philosophy.


There was a time when I was in total disgust at the green water that greeted me at the landing of these lakes. Many times I turned my rig around and headed for something that offered a bit more in terms of aesthetics.


However, over the years I have become a little more tolerant of the algae bloom water that appears in August. I still find the whole concept of scummy water repulsive and disgusting, but I have also learned that this slop can produce some incredible bass fishing.


Bass are a weed oriented creature in most of the lakes I fish. Come August and the water clarity decreases significantly, the weeds die out and eliminates the cover that the bass have been utilizing for most of the summer.


Once their traditional cover has deteriorated, bass still seem to find some type of structure to relate to. Instead of weeds, this structure takes on different forms. One of these forms is docks.


I will readily admit that I am not a big fan of fishing docks. However, during this poor water clarity season, docks are a natural for bass.


It is important to remember that bass don’t see this structure as docks. They simply view them as a place to hide and a place to ambush other baitfish. I have also learned that the more lifts and paraphernalia around a dock, the better the fish like it.


There are periods during the year when the bass seem to tuck way up underneath docks. During this period it is often necessary to skip lures far under the dock or pontoon to coax out hiding bass.


This is not the case during the algae bloom period. Because of the poor water clarity, bass will hang closer to the edges of the docks and readily chase anything that comes close to their location.


I have found that other typical shore line structure is also a good bet on algae bloom lakes. Trees in the water are exceptional spots. These tangles can attract multiple fish so work them carefully.


Bulrushes and cattails are two more ideal locations during this green water period. Since water clarity is not an issue, the fish are not shy about visiting shallow water. Bulrushes and cattails provide the type of cover that bass are looking for.


There are several lures that work well during this green water era. It is hard to beat a seven inch PowerBait worm fished on a weedless Texas rig or a Veg-E-Jig. The weedless factor is important because of the sticks, docks, and brush you will be fishing around.


One of my favorite green water combos is a 3/8 ounce pig ‘n jig. These skirted jigs attract big fish and are easy to cast with heavier equipment.


Rattling crankbaits and buzzbaits are another good choice. With the poor water clarity, sound becomes extremely important. Sound gives the fish something to hone in on when their sight fails.


When fishing algae bloom water, I find heavier equipment is quite important. Because of the need to get the fish away from the cover they are utilizing, stout rods and strong line is critical. This scenario is perfect for super lines like FireLine. No stretch and optimum feel are just what the doctor ordered for green water bassin’.


I used to think that the algae blooms of late summer were a bad omen for anglers. Although they still cause concern about water quality issues, I have learned that algae blooms can create some incredible fishing opportunities. The water may not be aesthetically pleasing, but the catching can be phenomenal.