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BaxterC

Heavy grass and shallow lake tactics

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So I live on about a 4k acre lake. It's generally clear, with some days having a more stained/cloudy look limiting the vis to 2-3ft. As it sits now it is mostly 3-7ft deep, with few 9-10 ft pockets. As the summer rolls around it usually drops a foot or two. 
I'd estimate that 40% of the lake either has eel grass, hydrilla, or some other sort of surface vegetation. Most of this comes up to surface, especially the eel grass. Other areas with no surface visible grass has some sort of thick bottom vegetation, which can be 1-3ft high, and really thick. You think you're looking at bottom, but I've pushed a stick through it for multiple feet. The bottom is actually very shelly/rocky. 

Anything with open hooks like crank baits and jerk baits are almost impossible to use 90% of the time due to vegetation. "Weedless" setups still manage to catch fair share of grass too. 

 

So I've been slowly trying to figure out some baits to use, and have had little luck. My go to bait is a ribbit frog. It can be used in all areas, and due to depth of lake, it often works in shallow areas with no surface vegetation. My other bait was a paddle tail swimbait with no weight. Just jerk it, let free fall, repeat. Those two baits have been the most productive by far. But, they don't always work, and can be frustrating when getting skunked, especially bc it's a very healthy lake, and I know there are bass around me. 

 

I've tried spinner baits, chatter baits, swimbait on swimbait hook, flipping hydrilla mat, and jigs (to include swim jigs). I've caught very few on all those. When I have another with me I'll have them toss the ribbit and their bite number is almost always higher. Now I know there must be some better tactics than just the ribbit, maybe one of those baits I've mentioned, or something I'm not familiar with.  

The banks are generally grassy, and can be 1-3ft deep. It's a very natural spring fed lake, so the bank kind of just fades into think brush, marsh, or woods. Lots and lots of panfish. Lots of food for them here. Rarely do I catch a skinny bass, no matter the length. 

 

So I'm looking for advice for following situations so I can throw something other than the ribbit day in day out. 

1. Thick eelgrass coming to surface. I've read about various baits, but everyone talks about swimming it above the grass, but this eelgrass it at the surface, so no area above the grass to swim it. 

 

2. Hydrilla mat flats, either at or just under the surface. I figure flipping is about the only way to hit the thick surface mat, but what about the sub surface, and areas between the mats?

 

3. Areas without much surface vegetation, but visible vegetation sitting 1-3ft off the bottom. This leaves about 4ft of clear water, but I usually shy away from fishing just random open spots since I can't think of a where the fish would be in it, or how to target them. 

Thanks in advance for any ideas or tips. My whole life has been mostly visiting a lake for a day and targeting banks in a Jon boat. So I'm a little lost when having all the time to really pick apart a lake properly.  

 

 

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7ft deep and 4k acres? I can't believe it only drops a foot or two. The local lake to me is about 20 - 30 feet and 5k acres and it will drop 6-10 ft. I don't know your location so maybe you don't experience droughts. I guess I would throw either a topwater, SSR crankbait, burn a spinnerbait or throw a T rig.

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It's spring fed, so that helps, plus rain runoff from the river. It's in Florida, so we usually have heavy rains in the summer. A few years ago it was a pretty bad drought and the shallowest it has been in decades. Compared to now it was about 3.5-4ft shallower.

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If it's really that heavily weeded top water and punching are your best bets. I wouldn't expect numbers from that situation. I would expect weight and PBs.

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This time of year I would start off with weightless flukes or senkos.  If it's warm enough I would try to work a topwater between the grass mats on the surface.  A small 1/8 oz. jig is another option.  Around here those small jigs pull through the vegetation pretty good without picking up too much. 

For the areas where the growth doesn't come up all the way to the surface I would try a shallow running crankbait, or burning a lipless crankbait.  For the lipless crank I would keep the rod tip pretty high and start reeling as soon as the bait hits the water.

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Try a chatterbait again. Recommend straight braid 50lb or more anda 7'3  7'6  heavy fast action to rip it out of the salad. You can burn it over the tops and let it fall in pockets. Same with a lipless. Make sure it comes into contact with vegetation and rip it super hard to clear the hooks. Texas rig underspins work too. If you can't keep your treble hooks clean up your rod power. Really lit em up last summer  learning to rip baits out of massive hydrilla flats last year.

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We have a few lagoons with some really thick surface vegetation on them and I've done well dragging a Booyah Pad Crasher over the top. The bass still come crashing through the thick stuff. However, along with your 3 pound bass you're also reeling in another 2 or 3 pounds of vegetation so make sure you've got some stout braid and at least a medium heavy rod going for you.

 

Invariably there are also open pockets in the vegetation where you can toss a Senko or pause the frog, but once the fish runs you still end up reeling in a ton of vegetation.

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Other than on top or punching through, I'd swim a speed worm or cut r with a pegged weight though the eel grass letting it fall with a few shakes as you bring it back. 

 

 

Mike

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My Lake Athens here in Texas has lots of eel grass, everything else, too. It is 45' or so deep at its max, 1799 acres at conservation (full pool) level.

 

When I moved here, I had to figure out very quickly how to fish differently. In most spots, flipping out a drop shot was like watching a comet disappear into the night sky . . . it'd just drop down and get buried in vegetation. This would be different than fishing a hard bottom.

 

What works for me up in my cove, fishing shallow, with a "hairy" bottom, some vegetation on top, too? Here goes.

 

I use a 3/0 60 degree bend jig hook and I attach a medium-sized Owner CPS (screw on centering pin) to it, then attach a 4" Keitech Shad Impact and Texas Rig it keeping the hook tip positioned in the plastic's dorsal slit or slightly skin hook it. I cast this on 10 lbs. braid to an 8 lbs. fluoro leader.

 

For the knot, and this is important, I tie a Uni knot where as I cinch it down tight and back up toward the hook eye, I run the tag end back through that little opening just before the knot is pulled tight up against the hook. What this does is after you cut the tag end off, it directs that little tag end remnant away from the direction you are reeling the lure back in. It is just one more step to making this weedless.

 

So, try to find openings in the "salad" as best you can, cast beyond these, let it sit, retrieve it very slowly, twitching helps, give bass down in the weeds a chance to see it, react to it. Some, depending on the season, will come up and grab it right off the surface, others will grab it anytime the bait can drop down.

 

Very weedless if you keep it slow, only accelerate a bit if you hit pockets of open water but, even then, I keep it slow so it can drop down in those holes.

 

Some I caught yesterday afternoon fishing in 5 feet of water, weeds everywhere below. Works year-round here in North Texas.

 

Brad

 

 

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2 hours ago, 928JLH said:

Try a chatterbait again. Recommend straight braid 50lb or more anda 7'3  7'6  heavy fast action to rip it out of the salad. 


Yea, I'll probably do that. I did get two bites with it, but missed both. Not sure if I tried to set the hook too hard, or wrong rod type. I just randomly tossed it on a 6'8" medium-heavy "worm & jig" rod. 

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Tungsten and flipping hooks on a beaver or craw will be your best bet imo. Get a heavy rod and punch and flip the heavy stuff. Maybe look at a jig too but I will normally just add the skirt to the punch setup. Most of the ponds I fish do the same thing during the summer. And put on braid. 50 or 60 pound tied straight. Most of the bites are going to be bigger fish. 

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I have to deal with similar conditions in most of my local lakes. It's a challenge. I took a shot and picked up the Reaction Tackle Swinging Tungsten jig heads. They really changed the game when using Skinny Dippers and other paddle tails that I use. Once I feel the bait bog down in the veggies a quick rip will usually clear them off. Without these heads it's just about impossible to fish these baits where they're most effective, in my spots. The line tie in the front and the shape of the head do the trick. I bought these on Amazon.

 

 

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10 hours ago, Mike L said:

Other than on top or punching through, I'd swim a speed worm or cut r with a pegged weight though the eel grass letting it fall with a few shakes as you bring it back. 

 

 

Mike

THIS.......

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8 hours ago, BaxterC said:


Yea, I'll probably do that. I did get two bites with it, but missed both. Not sure if I tried to set the hook too hard, or wrong rod type. I just randomly tossed it on a 6'8" medium-heavy "worm & jig" rod. 

YourLakeForkGuide on YouTube has an excellent video on chatterbait in heavy hydrilla. Tactical Bassin made a video on lipless in grass that really helped me out. 

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