Tips for Plowing Through Thick Cover for Summer Bass
ON LAKES WITH AN ABUNDANCE OF GRASS (hydrilla), it is not uncommon for thick mats of the green stuff to mats to form on the surface during late summer and early fall.
Lake levels are typically at their lowest now, which naturally makes it easier for the grass to inch towards the surface at the end of a long growing season.
Bass will sometimes bury up beneath the canopies, often times in muck so thick that the only way to get at them is to punch straight through it using a specially designed grass jig, Texas rig or punching skirt rig matched with a heavy duty flipping hook and some sort of plastic like a beaver or craw.
Heavy jigs and/or weights weighing an ounce or more rule punching arenas. It’s tight quarters fishing where the bait presented so it falls vertical in the water column relatively close to the boat. The heavier weight allows for easier penetration through the surface mat, helps the bait get into the strike zone quicker and ultimately adds up to optimum efficiency.
Bass typically bite out of reaction when the bait comes racing by on a vertical fall. It is not uncommon to snatch multiple fish—big ones—from an area no bigger than a dinner table when you stumble across a really sweet spot. Seasoned flippers often refer to this as getting into a “scrape.”
If you’re planning a trip to a good Texas grass lake like Kurth, Sam Rayburn, Nacogdoches, Pinkston or Amistad this fall or looking to try the technique for the first time, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
• Go Big on Gear: The chances of closing the deal on a big grass bass are slim if you don’t use the proper gear to help get the upper hand quickly. You need a stout, heavy power rod; good quality reel; and strong, braided line. This will help you turn a big fish fast and wrestle it out of the thick cover, ideally before it wraps you up. One of the big advantages of using a good quality braided line such as Yo-Zuri Super Braid, over fluorocarbon or monofilament is the braid will actually slice through the vegetation like a knife. The grass will ball up around fluorocarbon and mono.
• Tungsten All the Way: Tungsten slip sinkers are heavily preferred over lead for several reasons. For starters, tungsten is heavier than lead. That means a one-ounce weight made from tungsten is significantly smaller in size than a lead weight of equal size.
The smaller weight penetrates through heavy cover easier than a big one. Plus, tungsten is much harder and louder than lead. It makes a “thunk” when it hits hard bottom, rock or a limb. That will sometimes trigger those reaction strikes.
Not all tungsten weights are created equal. Some are equipped with inserts to prevent line wear; others aren’t. If you use a weight without an insert, make sure the edges around the top and bottom holes are smooth and rounded, or it could cut the line.
• Peg It: It’s always best to peg the weight against the head of the plastic.
• The Best Grass: The best grass for punching and flipping is the stuff that’s walled off in water at least 10 to 12 feet deep with a distinctive outside edge to mark the location where shallower water meets with deep. These types of places are frequently associated with creek channels, points, humps and ridges.
Sweet spots or “magic stretches” within a grass mat are sometimes found around small guts, indentions, points or other “oddities” that might indicate a change in water depth.
• Stay Tuned In: Most strikes will occur as the bait is falling. Stay tuned in to what the bait is doing as it falls. Be ready to react quickly if you feel a slight tick or notice that the line has gone slack before it reaches bottom. When in doubt, set the hook!
• Peg It: Always use a rubber bobber stop to hold weight snug against against the head of the plastic. This prevents separation on the fall and promotes better penetration. Some anglers prefer to use a stop beneath weights larger than 3/4 ounce to help protect the knot.
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—story by MATT WILLIAMS