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St. Croix Walleye Fishing - How Deep?
July, 2015 “Why aren’t the fish biting? They were here yesterday.”
Turk trophy walleye

Article by
Charlie “Turk” Gierke

The author operates
Croixsippi Guide Service
He can be reached at
Have you ever found yourself asking this question? The answer depends on a number of contributing factors, including the amount of light present in the depths you are fishing.
Most experienced anglers know that bright, sunny skies drive fish to deeper water. Fish are caught in shallower depths as light penetration decreases. Fish often move to relatively shallow areas when water clarity decreases. Consideration of these two factors can help you understand the tendencies of the fish you are after, resulting in choosing the proper depths to present your offering.
Darker or dirtier the water allows less light to penetrate into the water. Like a shade on a lamp or and salt spray on your car's headlights, waters with low clarity diffuse the light and reduce its penetration. 
There are two factors determining water clarity on lakes and rivers.
Baseline water clarity
These characteristics are fairly stable. Each lake or river has differing water characteristics of suspended and dissolved particles and may have tannins as well.  These suspended and dissolved particles and any potential tannins derive a waters baseline water clarity that from my estimation is usually static or similar from day to day.  Waters high in suspended and dissolved particles or tannins and lignins have low water clarity.

Temporal water clarity

Temporal conditions can change quickly. Water clarity in rivers and streams varies based on the conditions present in their tributaries. When the snow pack melts and April showers come the creeks, streams, and small rivers contribute suspended load and dissolved load of eroded sediment into the now darkened water.  The result is water that reduces light penetration.

Three factors listed below are temporal, which they relate to time situationally as these factors change from minute-to-minute or hour-to-hour. Usually current flow will not change from hour to hour, unless you are on the Mississippi River fishing below a lock and dam and the Corps of Engineers open or close the dams.

Light intensity - The actual amount of sky cover and rain affect the amount of light. The other main factors are a setting or rising sun, a full or new moon. Heavy clouds, rain, or a setting sun decrease light penetration. When cloudy skies reduce light penetration, predators often go on the prowl, especially in shallow water.   sky conditions
Wind - Strong winds, the more wind, the higher the waves, and the higher the waves, the less light penetration into the water.   sky conditions
Current - Fast water flow decreases the amount of light penetration into water.   sky conditions

The next time you struggle to put fish in the box, consider the realities of light conditions and fish locations. Don't jump to the conclusion that the fish aren't biting. They may be feeding actively, only deeper (or more shallow) than the depth you are fishing.

Keep Catchin!


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