Recently made a trip to Lake St. Clair to cash in on the huge numbers of large smallmouths in pre-spawn mode. Spent some time in the boat the day prior rigging rods with what has worked in the past and assuming what would be my primary rod choice based upon what bait was tied on.
Got to our first waypoint location and found the water to be very stained from the high winds the day prior. Had less than a foot visibility and my primary plastic bait I had tied on was nearly invisible. Fished this location for only about 20 minutes and noticed a mud line out further into the lake. Drove past the mud line and definitely found clear water but did not find fish. We believe the fish were in the mud eating up what was churned up the entire prior day but we did not think they could see our offerings. Tried several darker colors for contrast but finally gave up on our primary spot and went to waypoint number two.
Upon traveling to our second waypoint, we crossed over some extremely muddy water and was worried it would continue all the way to our next stop. Upon getting within a quarter mile of the waypoint, the water cleared and we also spotted a large raft of boats already near our waypoint. We slid in on the left side of the pack and started fishing with our preferred methods again. We saw a couple small fish caught in the pack but only caught a large silver "white" bass in our location. It was then that I really studied the pack of boats. It appeared they were mostly aggressively fishing jerk baits and that would make sense based upon the water clarity, but we assumed they did not see what we drove through so we treated the entire location as a "tough bite" location even though it appeared to be in perfect condition.
Tied on a light brown goldish tube and added about 2' of fluorocarbon leader as well. The action was never fast but we did put some nice fish in the boat to photo and release. The best method turned out to be a very slow drag of the tube on the bottom almost like an old school Carolina rig. When we felt something on the bottom like rock or last years weed bases, we slowed down even more and kept the bait in those areas for a long time. As the tube "popped" off of this structure it would trigger the strikes from these fish that were mostly lethargic. The fish also seemed to be following the bait without eating as well, since we had several finally eat the bait very near the boat.
We learned to adjust on this trip and to also pay attention to the conditions and our surroundings. Without the adjustments we made, we would have not have been as successful as we were on a tough bite type of day.
Get out on the water and give some new methods a try, especially when tough conditions present themselves.