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heavy hydrilla tactics


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Using weights up to an ounce and half to punch through the mats is a standard florida fishing practice.

Nope, doesn't seem to spook em, or if it does they come back pretty quick to investigate.

other tactics inclue a fat ika rigged skirt up.  Cast to the edge of the mat, the bait will swim under it.

There are others, but these are my favorites.

 

 

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  • Super User

Another one worth repeating ;)

During the early 70s on Toledo Bend the Hydrilla started really getting thick and numerous anglers (me included) were basically fishing the matted grass with weightless Texas Rigs & Johnson Weed less spoons, there wasn't many other baits that would work in this thick stuff. At the time I belonged to the Hemphill Bass Club out of the Harbor Light Marina and one of our members started wining back to back tournaments, not just ours but every ones. He was killing us with 15 fish stringers averaging 3 1/2 to 4 lbs. a fish. No one could figure out how he was doing it, we had all seen him on the main lake flats fishing the grass flats like us or so we thought. Finally at a club meeting he revealed what he was doing. Being a diver he had went out to the grass flats & dove under to see what was there, what he found was tunnels, caverns, & caves under the surface matted grass. In of these areas he could see crawfish clinging to the grass stems, they were also filled with schools of bass, mostly large bass. The next question was what bait could get to the bass, the answer was provided by Lonnie Stanley with a ¾ oz. Jig! Who is this angler that jigged his was too many a tournament win as well to the top of B.A.S.S.  Texas Bass Fishing Legend Tommy Martin!

Tommy's approach to this technique is different from what you've seen, read, or heard. With most techniques you are actually fishing the densest areas of the matted Hydrilla. The focus of Tommy's technique is the outer 15 to 25 yards of the mat; in this area the grass is a little sparser, his simply pitches or flips the jigs to a near vertical presentation. His main objective is to keep the jig in contact with the bottom at all times, something most anglers fishing grass fail to do. When the jig stops falling many anglers believe they have reached bottom, but from an underwater view with scuba gear the jig has only settled on the thick base stems of the Hydrilla. After making a pitch Tommy will strip about 3 or 4 arms lengths of line letting the jig fall near straight down. Then he will shake the jig to make sure it has not stop on the grass stems. With the jig now resting on the bottom, pause several seconds, the shake the jig once or twice with pauses between each. If no strike is detected simply reel up & pitch again moving locations about 20 ft from the previous. Once you get bite quickly kick or toss a buoy marker over board, fish in grass flats tend to school up so when you catch one there is usually more. Circle the buoy in increasing diameters & depths working the jig slowly (I once caught nine 6 lb + bass in an area the size of your living room). You may work 70 yards or 700 yards to locate the fish but when you do hang on!

Thirty years later Tommy is still living in Hemphill Texas, still guiding on Toledo Bend, & still fishing the B.A.S.S. tour. The deep grass technique is still catching huge stringers of quality bass with most Toledo tournament wins averaging 5 lbs. So if you've got the patience to work a jig for sometimes hours with out a bump or if you aint afraid of hanging several hawgs back to back give deep grass jigging a try.

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When targeting hydrilla (my honest to god archrival in the fishing world) I like to first hit the grasslines.  I agree FULLY with what Catt says.  Short casts (IE Pitching) is a must when fishing like this.  Long casts make it much harder to feel and interpret what the bait is doing...anyway.  I like working the edges by pitching or making a short cast ahead of me parallel to the weedline.  I don't strip off any line...in fact, I let it fall on as tight of a line as I can.  My jig will usually be about 1/2-3/4 with some sort of action trailer (grub, hula grub).  I let the bait pendulum back to me, working the reel only enough to keep it in my guesstimated strike zone.  Works pretty good when fish are on the edges.

For fishing IN the mat, practice what Catt says.  It's frusterating at first, but can be really, really rewarding.

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Flippin the Hydrilla with a 4 " or 5 " Black/Red Flake tube or a Zoom Speed Vibe in Junebug paired with a Gammy G-Lock hook and a 1/2oz to 3/4oz pegged bullet wt has always been a tactic that works great for me. There is a lake near me that just gets full of this stuff and most guys quit fishing it when it does but, my buddy and I go into it with this tactic and catch some good fish.

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Great post Catt!

One thing I might amend on that post is the sentence about moving 20 feet between pitches.  My experience pitching big jigs on Guntersville has taught me something about big fish in the summer.  Often you'll find a "school" of bass (3-4 good fish) in an area about the size of a boat or smaller.  Because of that, I'll try to pitch to every little stalk of hydrilla I see along the edge of the mat.  If you're only pitching the bait every 20 feet, you might go right over a "school" of good fish without them ever seeing your bait.  

I also try to zig-zag in and out from the really scattered grass to the dense edge of the mat looking for that density of grass the bass are holding in on that particular day.  If you're only fishing the very edge of the scattered grass, you might be missing the pattern that day of fish holding in the heavier hydrilla mat, or vice-versa.  

The other thing I try to do is to pitch the bait right on top of the hydrilla stalk, as opposed to pitching it into the openings between stalks.  The fish are generally holding in the stalk.  Having that bait shoot down right on top forces them to make a reaction, either react by eating it or get out of the way.  Often enough they'll decide to react with a bite.  At that point you have to be able to tell the difference between a jig not falling to the bottom because it's hung in a stalk of hydrilla versus a jig being caught half way down by a fish.  That will take a little practice.

Just thought I'd share my 2 cents...cheers!

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  • Super User

Once you get bite quickly kick or toss a buoy marker over board, fish in grass flats tend to school up so when you catch one there is usually more. Circle the buoy in increasing diameters & depths working the jig slowly (I once caught nine 6 lb + bass in an area the size of your living room).

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Living in central Florida, I'm no stranger to fishing through dense hydrilla.

I found the previous posts to be very interesting and very informative.

Remarkably, I do some of the things mentioned in nearly every post,

yet, I don't fish exactly the same as any one post.

> Replace the jig with a 1/4 to 1 oz bullet sinker (as needed), then Texas-rig a plastic crayfish (e.g. zoom big critter craw)

(This offers a weed-piercing, spire-pointed lead-head, while eliminating the drag produced by the fiberguard and skirt)

> Peg the sinker, so it doesn't ride down the line and wrap-up in the weeds.

> Keep the casts short

(Long casts only increase the line that needs to be submerged and reduce your feel of the lure)

> Target the densest weed-beds in the area. Work along the dense edge, outward to about

the midway point of density, whatever distance that might involve.

> Allow the lure to fall as it may while feeling for a pickup. If no strike is felt, lift the lure

about a foot or two, allowing it to fall on a 'different path' through the weeds (this is important).

> Repeat the 1 to 2-foot lifts (slow yo-yo), like slicing bread, until the lure reaches the bottom.

> Once on bottom, twitch the lure a couple of times, wait a moment, then rip it back for the next cast.

Roger

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Catt I think he means that sometimes the school will be in an area less than twenty feet. So maybe your first cast lands just this side of them and your next cast lands right past them.

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What must be understood here is that Hydrilla though matted on the surface it forms caves, tunnels, caverns; some of these are 2 to 5 foot tall. Once you lures penetrates the matted upper portions and falls into these openings it becomes easy for the bass to locate your lure. This is why it's of the utmost importance you maintain contact with the bottom.

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I forgot to add that I'm fishing in 10-15 foot of water which is a completely different scenario.   ;)

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What do you do differeing in 10-15ft of water??  In Stillhouse (my usual stomping grounds) we're often forced to fish hydrilla beds in 10-20ft.  The only thing that has ever worked for me was working the grasslines, but I'm definitely curious to what other options lie out there.  You got me curious, Catt.

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I'm not working the sparser outer edges located away from the mat or even the grass line itself. The focus of this technique is the outer 15 to 25 yards of the mat itself; in this area the grass is a little sparser, simply pitch or flip the jig in a near vertical presentation. The main objective is to keep the jig in contact with the bottom at all times, something most anglers fishing grass fail to do. When the jig stops falling many anglers believe they have reached bottom, but from an underwater view the jig has only settled on the thick base stems of the Hydrilla. Once the jig has penetrated all the way to the bottom it is easily seen by the bass located in the caves, tunnels, & caverns. Besides trying to locate bass you are trying to locate the caves, tunnels, & caverns because the bass will usually not swim through the matted Hydrilla. Yes bass will be found in the sparse outer edges and even along the grass line but their house/home is under the matted Hydrilla.

As for lures any weed less lure will produce but I prefer Oldham's Lures Trailer Hitch Jig, 3/4 oz Black/Blue, Gene Larew Salty Hawg Craws in 6 with 1 ½ cut off the tail. The reason being is a jig offers a larger profile and the craw worm is screwed onto the jig insuring it stays in place.

I've documented evidence showing this technique has won more tournaments and caught more Hawgs on Toledo Bend than any other technique.

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Sweet.  I'll have to try it on stillhouse.  most guys there use the weedlines as their fishing areas, and it's hard to claim a spot without getting a jig thrown at you.  I'll have to give it a go.  Thanks man

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Sir that's an outstanding web site thanks for including it under your avatar.    

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Thanks for the article Catt.  I just moved to Toledo Bend in Feb., so I am new to fishing this lake, and need all the help I can get.  Tommy Martin is a close neighbor of mine, although I have not met him yet.

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So Toledobasser that would put you in the Palo Gaucho area?

If one were to take every tip offered above, apply it to their lake, they would master the world of Hydrilla fishing.  

Oh by the way welcome aboard ;)

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I use the Zoom Horny Toad rather then punch a hole I make'm come to the top. As far as spooking Bass are curious fish and the splash will only get their attention if it where shallow with little cover a loud splash may spook them if it landed on top of or near them. I have caught fish with the Toad and have returned later in the day and caught fish in the same spot.

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Thanks for the welcome Catt, I am not only new to Toledo Bend, but new to this forum.  The reply to your post was my first here.  I am on the lake front in Carice Creek in Pendleton Harbor Sub.  Two houses from Mr. Martin.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I learned this tactic from a great fishing buddy of mine in Central Florida. I was on fish in Lake Walk in Water in July and called my buddy to fish. The lake was filled with hydrilla at the time (the hurricanes since then have left only small growth on the bottom).

I was catching my fish with flukes and worms during my prefishing. We started to fish the tournament in a spot with both topped out hydrilla and scattered stuff in 7-8 ft of water. The lake was dead calm and during the 1st hour of the tournament, I had 3 keepers in the livewell with the fluke. My buddy had zilch. I continued to fish the Fluke, but my buddy joked and said " You maybe catching more fish than me, but we aren't going to win with those small fish!" Of course I responded, "At least I have some!" We're very competitive and love to raz each other when we fish together.

My buddy got disgusted tossing the fluke, and started to throw a silver Zara spook, walkin the dog style. I never had any luck with that lure, but if I don't get a fish on a new lure to me in 5 minutes, it usually gets put away for the rest of the day! He told me that he caught some big fish on this lure in dead calm conditions in the middle of the day near hydrilla on Lake Toho!

Well, you guessed it, he caught one about 4 pounds in about 30 minutes by tossing it right next to topped out stuff and immediately walkin the dog! He continued the onslaught throughout the day, and we culled all my fish with his (except one)! We ended up winning the tournament! The day remained pretty calm and I think that's the key!

So, flippin, pitchin and other methods do work, but don't forget the spook in the heat of the summer in dead calm water!

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Guest avid

Living in central Florida, I'm no stranger to fishing through dense hydrilla.

I found the previous posts to be very interesting and very informative.

Remarkably, I do some of the things mentioned in nearly every post,

yet, I don't fish exactly the same as any one post.

> Replace the jig with a 1/4 to 1 oz bullet sinker (as needed), then Texas-rig a plastic crayfish (e.g. zoom big critter craw)

    (This offers a weed-piercing, spire-pointed lead-head, while eliminating the drag produced by the fiberguard and skirt)

> Peg the sinker, so it doesn't ride down the line and wrap-up in the weeds.

> Keep the casts short

   (Long casts only increase the line that needs to be submerged and reduce your feel of the lure)

> Target the densest weed-beds in the area. Work along the dense edge, outward to about

   the midway point of density, whatever distance that might involve.  

> Allow the lure to fall as it may while feeling for a pickup. If no strike is felt, lift the lure

   about a foot or two, allowing it to fall on a 'different path' through the weeds (this is important).

> Repeat the 1 to 2-foot lifts (slow yo-yo), like slicing bread, until the lure reaches the bottom.

> Once on bottom, twitch the lure a couple of times, wait a moment, then rip it back for the next cast.

Roger

Those of you who are curious about "classic" florida techniques, this post is as good as I've ever seen.

Mr. Rolo get a hearty  

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I've had a little luck fishing hydrilla in 5 to 8 feet of water with about a foot of water on top of the hydrilla;I would cast a paddletail worm with an 1/8 oz bullet weight;count it down till it settled on top of the hydrilla and rip it back towards the boat similar to fishing a crankbait.The bites were a lot similar to fishing a spinnerbait in that the fish would just swamp it all of a sudden.I'm definitely gonna try the jig deal though Catt.

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One of my favorite hydrilla tactics is a 1- 1 1/2 oz carolina rig with a 12-14 inch leader and a zoom wooly bug or brush hog in crawdad colors. I find the densest patch of hydrillla I can and drop it in. This will work in any depth because you have positioned your boat right above or just off of the grass. I work it very slowly twiching it until I am sure it is on the bottom. This is a deadly tactic in the dead of summer. Ain't Texan, it works on Stillhouse very well. You just have to give it time to ensure the bait is all the way down. This amy not be a surefire tournament tactic but it has produced som nice ones for me.

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in fla. we have a different scenerio.shallow topped out hydrilla and millfoil beds and mats mostly hyacyinths in 6' of water or less.jigs can be and are used but not as much as pegged plastics w/ 1 and up to 1 1/2 oz. weights.and yes,noise of any kind spook bass. maybe not the smaller schoolies but any bass of any size can be spooked easily.they do not move to investigate or chase a bait. you have to present it quitely and right in front of his face.flippin mats is a art,and stealth is the key to catchin sizeable bass w/ this technique.i have been flippin for many yrs. and am only fairly efficient at it. when you see how the pros like Glenn Brown,or preston clarke,terry scroggins ,the lane bros. or j.t kenney can slide a 1 1/2 oz. weight thru thick vegatation w/o any noise is unbelievable.nearly impossible for the avg. angler.they can lay that weight on top of a mat and shake it and it dissapears.

boat noise will spook more bass than most think.there again the great flippers make virtually no noise.

large weight and small baits are the way to success in fla. b.b. crickets and beaver type baits w/ little or no appendages so as to get thru the thick stuff is preferred.vertical presentation is a must.not only is a straight fall necessary but when you lift the bait it must come strait up also and when you get a bite the hookset needs to be vertical as welll as the hole you jerk the bass up thru.any horizontal actions and your chances of getting bit ,hooking and landing any sizeable bass go way down.

there are times mostly in deeper water that letting a bait go to the bottom or sit on the bottom is prefferred but the usual practice is to let it go to the bottom and bring it up to the bottom of mat and bang it against the underside of mat.the good flippers will dissect every foot of a likely mat before moving on.big bass hunker down and dont or wont move to take a bait but if you put it front of his nose he'll inhale it.many anglers dont have the patience or determination to flip all day w/ only a few bites.flippers who havent perfected the technique can only hope for a few bites cause they scare most potential bites w/ noise and improper presentation.

there is a lake i fish that just about the whole lake in covered in hydrilla ,half topped out mats the other half submerged .i just work my way out into the middle of some of the more sparse areas and fish it like i would any other lake.hardly ever flip it.

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