Spinnerbait When You Can
Late last spring, I was crawling mudbugs along the shoreline of Atchafalaya Bay with my friend Dr. Chip Metz, of Morgan City. He and another friend had recently been putting some good hits on the reds in that manner, and we were following suit.
After the sun had risen a bit, my companion noted that the water had cleared since his last trip there - not much, but a little, and after "testing" it, I discovered that it did indeed have about 6 inches of subsurface visibility. That's still a bit grungy, but plenty clear enough to speculate with a spinnerbait, so I did and caught a red on each of my first six casts with it.
If you can't find bait shrimp and decide to forgo the crawfish option, and if the water you intend to fish has roughly the same visibility I found that day, then in my opinion a spinnerbait is the best thing going.
Build spinnerbaits with the same quarter-ounce jig head you'd use for the aforementioned hair jig, a gold No. 4 safety-pin spinner and a purple soft-plastic grub. OK, black then - but one of those two.
The retrieve should be made entirely of slow pumps created by raising the rod to feel the spinner throb and then dropping it while quickly reeling in the slack line. This intermittent, or yo-yoing, technique will attract the fish in turbid water much better than a steady retrieve.
Like most folks, I prefer fishing for reds in clear water, but at times across much of the Gulf coast, that won't happen - the grunge is simply a part of the annual cycle. But the fish are still there, so don't let it defeat you. Knowing how to cope with it can lead to some surprisingly good action.