As we idled away from the boat dock, the lake was an eerie and fascinating sight. Mother Nature had painted a fog so thick that it was hard to distinguish between water, land and the sky. Your imagination can run rampant in situations like this. The half-fallen and broken tree took on the shape of a prehistoric monster, the shoreline that was so familiar seemed lined with ghostly mysterious shadows, and the crane seeking a morning meal shrieked and took flight quickly disappearing into the soupy unknown.
Low-Light Conditions – As most of you know, bass like to stay on the shady side of stumps, standing timber, brush, etc. According to biologists the reason for this behavior is twofold: to enhance the feeling of security and eye comfort.
Fog cuts out some of the light that bothers bass, enables them to roam more freely from the cover, thus making them more accessible to fishermen. The low-light conditions will also allow them to feed longer in shallow water, and during the warmer months the fog holds insects down on the water. In general the bass are turned on by the fog. It is believed by some pro’s that single bass tend to roam more but schools of fish tend to stay together as they feed. It is also believed that bass will still relate to heavy cover but will move further to take a bait.
Know Your Lake – A number of years ago I was fishing an area that I knew like the back of my hand. I would launch the boat, run a couple of blocks in a 2-o’clock direction, make a turn through a small cut and from there it opened up into a large slough that was sometimes loaded with bass. On this particular morning the fog had moved in and it was pea-soup thick. It was as the old saying goes, “thick enough to cut with a knife”.
Since I knew the area well (or so I thought) I headed the boat away from the launching area and to be sure I didn’t move out of my line of direction I placed my hand firmly on top of the steering wheel and slowly motored toward my planned destination. I motored, and motored and motored but never did arrive at the small cut. I was just about to give up when suddenly through the fog I saw the hazy shadows of something very tall rising up from the shoreline and disappearing into the soup. As I got closer I realized that it was the bridge directly in back of the launching area. Somehow I had made a complete circle back to a spot in back of where I had launched. It was pretty bizarre, and the next day I made a point of having a good compass mounted in the boat.
The point to the story is that I knew this area really well, and yet in the fog I was lost. What if I had kept going out there and the fog didn’t lift? It would have been a cold night waiting for the fog to clear the next day.
GPS and Compass – Obviously you should have a compass mounted in the boat. And even better, also have a good GPS unit that allows you to mark the position of your launching area and a “trail” of GPS coordinates that can take you safely to and from your fishing spot. And believe me, a quick GPS recording of your launching site can be invaluable.
My son and I launched at a small site on Sam Rayburn a few years ago and parked the van next to the restroom facility, a couple of green trash cans and a launching sign. As we were pulling away from the launch a bit of fog started rolling in so I did a quick save of our location. We had a good day fishing and when we came back into the launching area our van and boat trailer were gone. We got out of the boat looked around, went back out in the boat and did everything you can think of but each of us had the sinking feeling that the van had been stolen. It was panic time because in about 30-minutes it would be dark. Even though we knew where we were, I checked out the GPS coordinate I had recorded when we left the launching area. The map showed our current location but showed the location of the launching site a little less than a mile down the lake. Impossible!! We were looking at the bathroom facilities and the two green trash cans we parked by but the GPS said that we were in the wrong location. We motored back out onto the lake and headed for the obviously incorrect coordinate. As we rounded the corner and headed into the cove there was the restroom facility, two green trash cans and the launching sign … and more importantly our van. The other spot was absolutely identical to the spot where we had launched. It was amazing. If I had not done the quick save for the launching site no telling how long we would have been wondering around the area. If the fog had rolled back in it would have been worse.
Fog Can Be Good – Fog usually occurs on warm, calm days, when the water is cooler than the air. Fog diffuses the sunlight and will make the bass more prone to “roam” in the low-light situation.
I love to fish topwaters but in certain foggy situations the fog will prevent your lures from being clearly defined to the fish. For those situations use the darker lure colors and stay with baits that make a commotion such as a spinnerbait with a large “thumping” Colorado blade, a buzzbait, topwaters with internal rattlers and even a rattlin’ crankbait. It’s also a good idea to add a trailer hook to the spinnerbait and buzzbait. Use a slightly less than normal speed for the crankbaits which will allow the bass to more easily “zero-in” on the bait.
Be Safe – Even though I shouldn’t have to mention being safe in foggy conditions .. I will. A number of times I have had a knucklehead go blasting by me in the fog and heaven knows where he is going or who he is going to meet on the way. Always run slowly and cautiously during foggy conditions. It is very dangerous to be doing otherwise when neither you or anyone else out on the water can see past the front of the boat.
Well there you are, I few tips for fishing those foggy mornings. Bass action generated by the fog may exceed any fishing action you have previously experienced. As you motor slowly to your fishing spot just ring that cow bell every once in awhile to be sure other anglers know you are coming through. Have a great time — JB