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Janderson45

Shallow Heavy Cover Techniques

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So without boring you with too many details, there's a waterbody located near me in New England that I've fished before on numerous occasions, I've had varied success over the years but don't typically do quite as well here as I feel like I should...

 

It's an old pond that had a relatively small river for an inlet/outlet , about 50 or 60 years ago they dammed the river and flooded the adjacent cedar tree farm.  They didn't clear many of the trees before flooding, so it created an impressive amount of standing timber to be fished.  Over the years the trees rotted and many of them fell into the water, there's only a few still left standing in certain locations of the pond, but underwater is an absolute maze of fallen trees and stumps.   The majority of this flooded timber field is 3-4 feet in depth, with certain holes that are about 6 or 7 feet deep, and the old stream bed cuts right through the middle of the flooded timber, averaging 7 or so feet along the old creek bed location with a few areas that hit approximately 10 feet in depth.  The water is highly fertile, with poor visibility of about 2 feet.  Milfoil runs wild (especially this time of year) and forms some pretty thick nasty mats in certain areas.  There are also a few spots with some good lily pad growth.   Bottom composition is predominately a soft silty/muddy mix. 

 

Once the weeds come up in the late spring fishing pretty much anything with an open hook here is a no-go.. I could probably throw a spinnerbait parallel along the flooded river bed but once I wander away from that the milfoil and timber gets too dense.  I usually hit this place with a mix of frogs, texas rigs, swim jigs and weedless paddletail swimbaits.   Recently I've gotten a lot more into heavy cover pitching/flipping/punching with texas rigs or jigs, and as of now I plan to really dedicate myself to a day of pitching to targets with heavy texas rigs and jigs.  I've planned to do this before but was very impatient and quickly went back to covering water swimming lighter texas rigs and swimbaits which had worked well for me in the past.

 

So in summary my questions are: 

-How would you fish this type of scenario?  -Shallow stained/muddy water loaded with timber and grass

-How would you determine target areas in a seemingly endless field (300 acres) of incredibly bassy territory? 

-How long would you dedicate to working an area with minimal results if all of the surrounding habitat is very similar?

-How heavy of a tungsten weight or jig would you ideally be pitching in 3-4 feet of water? -  I realize this is dependent on it's ability to effectively penetrate the cover, but would you try to keep it on the lighter side (1/2, 3/4oz) and sacrifice a bit of efficiency because of the shallow depths? 

 

Looking at overcast conditions and potential for a bit of rain for the planned fishing date, which I realize isn't quite ideal for pitching heavy cover, but I don't know if this place leaves me a lot of other options either. 

 

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Go when you can but I'd be looking for stable weather followed by an approaching front.  Fish right before the front.

Something else to keep in mind is that sunlight often helps 'set up' the fish in cover which can often make them a little easier to locate. 

As for weight - being able to successfully penetrate the cover is what dictates it. 

If you're not getting to the fish - you need more. 

That said, don't be afraid of going 'heavy' in skinny water. 

That super fast sort of 'surprise' fall, right in a big ol'fat girls face can often be the ticket to camera & scale use.   

A bass has a strike reflex that is 'blink of an eye' fast - so 'too quick' of a fall speed in shallower water may not be a big concern, especially in warmer water temps. 

Finally, sounds like that place was tailor made for a punch rig, braided line & an attitude that has you showing no fear by getting your bait in places others wouldn't think of going. 

Good Luck and be careful - you might get your arm broke.

:smiley:

A-Jay

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1 hour ago, Janderson45 said:

I plan to really dedicate myself to a day of pitching to targets with heavy texas rigs and jigs. 

 Sounds like a plan . Also sounds like one heck of a buzzbait lake .

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Thanks for the reply A-Jay. 

 

Weather pattern looks fairly similar to what you were suggesting, we've had a stable high pressure with south winds for 4 or 5 days, tomorrow night weak front approaching the area but hanging just a bit south of us until late Saturday when it can fully move into the region... I'll be fishing all day Saturday in mostly overcast conditions and light south wind with chance of pop up showers and tstorms...  Friday looks like the better day with still mostly sunny skies butt I'll be stuck in my cubicle in the city. 

 

A punch rig will certainly be tied on.  St Croix EC74HF, curado 7.1:1 spooled with 60lb FX2, 3/4 or 1oz tungsten weight, SK 4/0 straight shank heavy cover flippin hook and a 4" D-Bomb in superbug.   Up in the air as to whether or not i'll add a punch skirt. 

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Also think I may try out a "power shot" drop shot sort of technique.  I've never tried it before but this seems like it could be a good place to give it a go...  Thinking 40lb braid mainline to 3/0 EWG to 3/8 or 1/2 sinker.   Maybe a rage bug or a straight tail worm?   I could see the sinker getting tangled with the leader line in some of the brush being a potential issue, but that's just part of the game I suppose. 

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1 hour ago, Janderson45 said:

Also think I may try out a "power shot" drop shot sort of technique.  I've never tried it before but this seems like it could be a good place to give it a go...  Thinking 40lb braid mainline to 3/0 EWG to 3/8 or 1/2 sinker.   Maybe a rage bug or a straight tail worm?   I could see the sinker getting tangled with the leader line in some of the brush being a potential issue, but that's just part of the game I suppose. 

 

Might work - perhaps Tex-Pose the bait.

 I'd use lead though - cause when you get into the right ones in the jungle, some of those weights might go bye-bye. 

:smiley:

A-Jay

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Also, look for isolated areas to fish and I don't mean just a clump of grass sitting all by itself. A smaller area of different grasses within a large  mat would be my starting point. Flip every foot in and around it. 

 

Good Luck

 

Mike

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2 hours ago, Mike L said:

Also, look for isolated areas to fish and I don't mean just a clump of grass sitting all by itself. A smaller area of different grasses within a large  mat would be my starting point. Flip every foot in and around it. 

 

Good Luck

 

Mike

 

Yes ive certainly seen this advice before... will have to be on the lookout for different weed types for sure.  

 

In your experience would places where pads meet milfoil also be a good initial target area?  

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Sure!!

Anytime you have different anything within anything different you've found the prime areas to start and finish in heavy cover shallow water. 

 

Also, if you don't get bit don't give up on it  That's a common mistake that folks make if they're learning.

Give it a while and come back and hit them again throughout the day. 

 

 

 

Mike

 

 

 

 

 

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To narrow down the spots, I'd look for two things.....Forage and Structure.  Those areas where the bottom drops quickly to the 7ft. level and the banks of the old river sound like the places to start. Don't rule out flats close to those deeper areas if you can determine the presence of forage there.  Pick your poison for presentations, but you're pretty much limited to the top of the junk, or getting down into the timber underneath.  Either way, stealth is going to play a big part in your success.  Shallow water is not the place to disregard how much of a factor it is, regardless of the clarity of the water.

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Sounds like the perfect place to fish a spinnerbait to me. From the sounds of it, 3/8 oz should be fine as the water is not too deep. Also, try one one with at least 1 Colorado blade, if not 2 should be a good bet. That'll really cause strong vibrations in the water which will attract the fish. Also the buzzbait should also be a great option as well. See how much area you can cover -- even if the cover looks the same.

 

But don't let that stop you from trying others as well. A chatterbait, pitching jig or texas rigged senkos should all catch you some fish as well. You shouldn't need a massive amount of weight either given the shallow water, try to keep it around the minimum you feel you can cast without sacrificing distance -- for me that's around 3/8oz for the most part.

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This place sounds like heaven.  If I was going there I'd have a 1/2 oz, 3/4 oz, and 1 oz jig tied on.  Probably a texas rigged flipping bait and definitely a frog. I don't even bother with moving baits around that much cover.

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2 hours ago, RichF said:

This place sounds like heaven.  If I was going there I'd have a 1/2 oz, 3/4 oz, and 1 oz jig tied on.  Probably a texas rigged flipping bait and definitely a frog. I don't even bother with moving baits around that much cover.

 

Pretty much my plan for the day...  When the grass is down a bit you can be effective with spinnerbaits and soft swimbaits but this time of year it's pretty much impossible to throw anything with an open hook, even buzzbaits struggle to get through the milfoil mats in my experience.  

 

Just gonna go to work and grind it out pitchin and flippin to every target I can find.   Plan is to frog early and hopefully grab a few, if we don't hook any hopefully some will at least expose themselves, then we'll go to work and really slow down in those areas.  

 

Overcast skies and cooler day time temps may have them roaming a bit more than they otherwise would be.. but I figure that just means we may be able to be a little less precise with our pitches and still get bit?

 

Oddly enough, the state actually stocks this place with tiger muskie too... not that I'm complaining, but certainly not an easy fishery to target musky on due to the immense amount of cover present... almost have to get lucky and flip your bait right in front of them and pray they don't break you off...  I've yet to catch one but I've been broken off by one on numerous occasions.  Set the hook and WHAM-  gone.. haha!

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