Water Color and Clarity

By Lance Valentine

There are certain factors that affect fishing decisions every day and at the top of that list is water color and clarity. These two factors will determine fish location, fish activity, presentation, best depth to put lures at, lure color and more. Having an easy way to determine water color and clarity is important for making these decisions.

I’ve known anglers who have used complicated measuring devices and other tools for determining water color and clarity, but I like to keep it simple. Having an easy way to measure and record water color and clarity helps keep record keeping simple and easy to understand. Here is the system we use at Teachin Fishin:

Water Color:

1) BLUE: usually TOO clear to support any life, especially smaller insects that build the food chain. Also, usually a little colder water

2) BROWN: usually TOO dirty for good fishing. It may hold a lot of fish, but fish, especially walleye, need to see a lure before they will hit it and brown water makes the tough most days.

3) GREEN: PERFECT! Green water is almost always the best. It has the right combination of nutrients, fish and clarity. Finding GREEN water is my first goal every day on the water.

4) Lance’s Pro Tip: Find the GREEN! Stay out of the blue and the brown!

Water Clarity:

1) CLEAR: able to see you prop clearly in the water

2) STAINED: can see the cavitation plate of the main engine but the prop is hard to see or invisible

3) DIRTY: can’t see the cavitation plate

4) Lance’s Pro Tip: Stained water is by far my first choice

I can wrap water color and clarity in one statement: “Stained Green water is the BEST almost every day”.

In my travels around the country chasing walleye, I have NEVER found a situation, on river, lake or reservoir, where GREEN water that was STAINED to a little DIRTY wasn’t the best choice. Find green water with a little bit of stain to it and you are in the right place to start catching fish!

If you fish the Great Lakes, you can check the satellite overhead picture to find the “right” water every day. Head over to https://teachinfishin.com/trips.html and click on the “Satellite Image” link.

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