“Turbid” is a word fisheries biologists use to describe most Louisiana’s waters.

In its purest form, turbidity means cloudy or opaque, and here it means muddy. Around here, we have various degrees of muddy water — a ranking that runs from “chocolate milk” muddy on the heavy side to a lighter “sandy stain” muddy.

Visiting anglers working freshwater and saltier, coastal areas often wonder just how it is we catch so many fish from all this murky liquid, and they often spend lots of their fishing day looking for clearer water, which they seldom find.

Yeah there are times when our waters do clear, but not right now, not with these persistently heavy rains, and not with our major rivers carrying the drainage from so many other states suffering through what appears to be a very wet last six months across our country’s heartland.

Wait until October. Then, maybe, the rains will cease and waters in the Mississippi, Red, Atchafalaya and Pearl rivers will fall to what we’d usually call “summer low.” It’s then when the silt will fall out and the water will become “green clear,” although “clear” for us is maybe 6-8 inches of visibility. (And prompts out-of-state anglers to ask, “You call that clear?”)

Until then, pay attention to what veterans go to lure-wise during these turbid times. They know that larger-bladed spinnerbaits when being retrieved create the vibration needed to let bass know there is a potential morsel nearby. That's especially true in the Atchafalaya and Verret basins. 

Muddy water is why we use so much chartreuse, white and blue in our spinnerbait skirts, have caught so many bass and other species on black-and-blue soft plastics and why black-and-blue jigs (usually a black head, black/blue skirt and sapphire-blue trailer) are go-to artificial lures.

And these turbid conditions, after so many years of trial and error, lead us to using so much chartreuse in our soft-plastic baits we use to catch speckled trout and redfish in coastal waters.

Even when you find grassbeds that suck the muck from the waters, these colors work, like heavy-leaded, black-blue jigs or any of the dozens of creature baits used to punch through matted grass and bunched-up hyacinths to elicit a strike from a largemouth bass lurking in these shadowy covers.

What’s more, sac-a-lait are biting in the Atchafalaya and appear to like blue-white and black-blue sparkle jigs around off-the-bank stumps and other structure.

The college boys

The Louisiana-Monroe team of Tyler Craig and Spencer Lambert were the top in-state team among the more than 150 teams from across the county competing in last week’s Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship on Lake Bemidji in Minnesota.

Craig and Lambert finished 12th with a total of 23 pounds, 15 ounces for their two-day effort and didn’t qualify for the third-day final. Bryan College’s Jacob Foutz and Jake Lee won with a three-day, 49-15 catch.

Tyler Rivet and Cameron Naquin of Nicholls State finished 15th at 22-4. Other Louisiana teams in the top 50 were JP Kimbrough and Jared Rascoe, LSU-Shreveport (32nd place, 13-12), UL-Lafayette’s Lawrence Kuznik and Dakota Moore (38th, 12-3), Northwestern State’s Aaron Belgard and Logan Laprarie (45th, 9-7) and Louisiana-Lafayette’s Dawson Cranford and Charles Norris (47, 9-4).

Belgard and Laprairie had the tournament’s big bass, a 6-6 they caught during Thursday’s first round.

The top four teams were split into four pairings for a bracket-like fish-off to determine the overall individual winner.

Snapper update

Heading into last weekend, Louisiana’s private recreational fishermen still have 375,717 pounds to go before reaching the state-imposed recreational red snapper limit of 1.04 million pounds.

Through July 30, the latest update, LA Creel, the state’s highly acclaimed data-collecting system, showed a catch total of 764,283 pounds, an increase of 28,124 pounds from the previous week’s estimate.

There are only three weekends remaining in the expanded 39-day season — Aug. 18-20, Aug. 25-27 and Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1-4 — which means the state likely will finish this season under the 1.04 million pounds. The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ advisory also carried the note reading, “Any dates after this weekend will be canceled immediately if the limit is reached before Sept. 4.”

Fishermen also have to know there is no “state” season, meaning a ban on taking red snapper in state and federal waters Mondays through Thursdays.

Weekend conditions

  • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Forecasts: nws.noaa.gov. Find the “Coastal/Great Lakes Forecasts by Zones – Gulf – New Orleans, La.” and a map with 13 different nearshore, offshore and Lake Pontchartrain wind and waves predictions for the next five days.
  • Weather Underground: wunderground.com. Current conditions, a 10-day forecast, and hour-by-hour predicted temperatures, winds, precipitation and barometric pressure.
  • National Weather Service’s River Forecast Center: water.weather.gov for river stages.