By Bob & Ginny Riege
Most anglers know that structure is nothing more than something unusual on the bottom or in the water around which fish gather. Normally, it has to be unusual or atypical structure or noticeable structure to be good fishing area. In a whole shoreline littered with stumps, largemouth bass could be likely found but would not be attracted to one stump as opposed to any others. A barren shoreline with a small area of several stumps would tend to concentrate largemouth and make for an excellent fishing structure.
In the spring one type of structure that is over looked by many anglers is floating structure. Oh sure there is the buoy and maybe a swimming platform that fish are attracted to, but more specifically there are mud lines. Mud lines can be formed when the wind comes up on those warm spring days or they maybe formed as another stream or river flows into an existing one. The confluence of the two rivers meeting will also form a mud line.
All mud lines are not created equal at least in terms of angling potential. An angler should look for secondary structure contained in the mud line such as vegetation, boulders, and submerged brush. This secondary will hold baitfish and eventually the larger fish will follow the mud line until it provides food or an advantageous ambush point.
Mud lines are a great structure to fish in the spring because the angler can fish them quickly. If you fish an area and you don't have a fish within 10 to 15 minutes move on to another location. My father, who loved to troll, would work over a mud line and if nothing was active he would be on to another spot.
Lure selection in the form of crankbaits should appeal to the fish senses. They should be big lures that displace water and give off vibration, or rattle and they should be flashy with bright metallic finishes. A great choice here would be the Husky Jerk. It has all the ingredients for fishing mud lines, color, flash and sound. Plus it is neutrally buoyant and stays in the fishes face longer.
To slow down your lure presentation a little use a jig tipped with a minnow. But don't get stuck in a slow pattern. Utilize extremes. Rip the jig back to the boat on one retrieve, and then work the jig slow, bouncing it along the bottom on the next retrieve. My favorite jig in this situation is a 1/4 ounce gold fireball jig tipped with a minnow. I prefer the fireball because it is round and I can easily attach a stinger hook to the minnow and up my chances of catching a finicky walleye. When in doubt if you have contact with the bottom, increase the size of your jig and minnow. You might get hung up more, but you might also have a wall hanger on your hands.
Equipment becomes essential when fishing mud lines, especially line. I like to use the Berkley Sensation green colored line. The reason for this is the green color of Sensation is also completely invisible in both muddy and clear water making it difficult for the fish to detect. This may seem like it would make line watching hard out of the water but the contrast in the air is clear even on over cast and bright sunny days. The critical aspect is the fish can't see the line in the mud line at all and all of a sudden a bait appears before them.
You see fishing in the spring is sometimes as clear as mud.