James Niggemeyer discusses how he breaks down and finds bass in large grass beds, revealing his top baits too!
Hey, everyone. James Niggemeyer here. Thank you for tuning back into my YouTube channel. It's the perfect time of year to head out to a power plant lake where the water stays warm. I'm going to say this water temperature is probably close to 70 degrees, and that is one of the perks of having a power plant lake close to you. But that's not why I'm here. I'm here because this lake is full of grass, predominantly hydrilla, but there's some other vegetation types in the lake. And a lot of times people get intimidated by grass, and so I thought this would be a perfect time for me to do a video on fishing lakes with grass, some of my top baits, some of the ways that I approach it, just getting out here on this lake with grass and going through some of the baits, presentations, the things I'm looking for, and how I approach a lake with grass in it.
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Well, it's a beautiful day for December. So, we're gonna go ahead and make our way over to some productive areas. We'll talk about the area that I've chosen. And, of course, I've been here before, so I have some history here on some of the better areas, but what makes those areas better as it pertains to grass fishing. Here we go. Let's get into it.
When it comes to fishing grass lakes, there are a few baits that I turn to, specifically when I'm dealing with a lake that has a lot of grass, a lot of vegetation in the water. And when I mean grass or vegetation, I mean submergent grass, but some of it might be emergent or matted out. So I want to have a few different baits that can tackle different situations. And these are a few of my favorite grass fishing baits. Of course, they are going to differ depending upon the seasonal pattern. But I'm on a power plant lake, so that kind of throws things out because water temperature is going to be warmer, the fish are going to be doing things a little differently, a lot differently than some of the other area lakes that have typical temperatures for this time of year. The fact that we're on a power plant lake definitely raises the water temperature, meaning the water temperature is warmer, and there's fish doing all kinds of different things that you wouldn't find on other area lakes. So these are my favorites right here.
On a grass lake, I always want a lipless crankbait. Now, that color might not be exactly what they want. It's kind of a Chrome Tennessee Shad, but some sort of lipless crankbait is something I want to have on the deck. I also really like a square bill. Now, if you watch my videos with any kind of frequency, you'll see that a square bill is almost always on the deck. So this is no different. But a square bill goes that 2 to 5 foot of water and can go right over top of the grass, the scattered clumps, and different things like that. And the square bill enables it to deflect off cover and run right over the grass.
The other bait that I really like is a bladed jig, and this is a Strike King Thunder Cricket. And so got to have one of those on the deck. It's almost a year-round thing for me, it actually is. This is a great bait when it comes to fishing grass. And, of course, a swimbait. This is a Strike King Rage Swimmer on a Owner Flashy Swimmer. So we've got a little bit of flash that I can add to the bait. And I can fish this over, in, and through because it's Texas rigged and weedless.
Speaking of Texas rigs, I have a punch rig. Of course, a Texas rig might be something that you would have in different lighter weights. But because I know this lake has some matted grass, I'm going to go ahead and start with an ounce and a half. And I've got that on a punch rod, so a Texas rig of some sort, but this one happens to be a heavy one for punching that grass. Sometimes those fish want to be down inside the grass, and so the punch rig definitely gets that done. Other times they want to be up and over it, so a rattle bait can draw fish to it because of the sound, and then sometimes the stealthiness but the vibration of a bladed jig is also good. The square bill, just awesome for deflecting off pieces and clumps of grass. And, of course, the swimbait, so supernatural that it's hard to beat a swimbait anywhere in the country, 365. It doesn't matter what species, a swimbait's got to be a bait to have on the deck. The air temperature when I got to the lake was probably in the 30s, might have been right at 40, but water temperature is 69.4.
One of the best search baits for fishing grass is definitely a Strike King Red Eye Shad. A couple things that I think make it so good is the fact that I can throw it out and wind it back in and it draws fish to the bait simply because of the action and sound. A lot of times when fish are in grass, they can't necessarily get a good look at their prey item because the grass is obstructing their view or their line of sight. So, when you have a bait that makes a rattling sound, a lipless vibrating crankbait like this rattling through the water column, a lot of times that'll alert bass to its presence and then they can see the natural action of it shimmying through the water and the flash. It's just such a great bait at drawing strikes and an incredible bait at making fish react to it just by running it into the grass and then ripping it out with your rod tip. Once I feel it kind of hit some grass or maybe get stuck in some grass, I'll just rip it out of grass and keep it coming. So it's a tremendous reaction type bait. Definitely can get fish to do something they didn't, say, necessarily intend to do. And one of the other things I really like about a lipless crankbait is the fact that I can adjust its depth. Because it sinks, I can adjust its depth that it runs. Just by slowing the real handle down, it'll sink further in the water column. And then I can also take the rod tip from a high position like this and drop it down to a lower position allowing it to sink further into the water column. So the lipless crankbait is definitely a productive search bait, but it's also a great fish-catching bait, specifically around grass. Works in all water temperatures, which is another great thing. You're always seasonally relevant. It's just a tremendous fish-catching bait. It's definitely a great search bait and a tremendous fish producer in and around areas with grass. If the fish are kind of relating to grass edges or overtop of grass clumps, this is a great way to get them to react. Just running it into the grass and then ripping it free, it'll clean the hooks, you'll kill it, and it'll shimmy back down, and that's when they bite it. So it draws a reaction strike from fish that maybe are a little sedentary, a little more in a negative state. You can get them to react to the bait. So it's just a tremendous fish producer, specifically in lakes and waterways with grass in it.
He knocked the fire out of it. Not a very big one, but he thought he was King Kong. He got both hooks. There's one. I had to modify my retrieve to a more of a yo-yo, and I also switched up to a crawfish. Barely got him on the outside there. But the Red Eye Shad on the edge of this grass out here, water's like 3.5, 4 feet. But they didn't want that straight retrieved, so I had to go ahead and kind of try something different. I started kind of lift and drop, a little yo-yo, and that triggered a strike. So that was definitely my first clue as to how they want that thing presented. And I'm trying to follow this grass edge, but it's so irregular. And a lot of times that regular grass edge can be really good as well. I had been fishing that Chrome Tennessee Shad, and I switched it to this kind of a royal red. And I went from a straight retrieve to kind of a lift and drop, almost worming it. And that irregular presentation seemed to be what they wanted, or at least that fish. He liked that because he got it on the drop. I went to go lift it and he was on there. So playing with your retrieve is definitely key to understanding... You know, you need to vary it up. It's definitely a key to understanding what the fish are wanting on a given day.
Grass fishing can be somewhat intimidating because you see large expanses of grass like this. You can't really see underneath the water, but all the way out to those little emergent humps, those matted humps out there, it's just grass just like a big carpet out here. And so trying to figure out where they are and what they're doing can a lot of times be kind of intimidating when you look at the grass and think, "Well, it's like needle in a haystack." And it is. You got to do a lot of combing of the grass, so to speak. You have to be able to move around and literally work through some areas until you get into an area where the fish are located. It's like anything else. Most of the time, they're not just widely spread out. They're kind of in a spot where there'll be an are'll be a lot of areas that don't have anything or maybe onesies, twosies, little fish here and there and then boom, you'll come through an are'll be a concentration utilizing a specific weed edge, or submerged clumps or grass, or the inside edge like what we found just so far here. The bite seems to be a bit off. You know, with the water temperature being 64 degrees, you think the bite would be a little bit better. But for whatever reason, it's like anything, even though the water temperature is just about perfect for these bass. Oh, there's one. Golly. He smoked it. That's a better one. Golly, came off that boat archery. Look at that one. Man. Gosh, that's a good one. Oh, yeah, we are officially on to something. Flashy Swimmer and the Strike King Rage Swimmer catching some big ones. There's an 18-inch minimum on this lake, and that for sure is an 18-inch or so. I want to get some pictures of her. So we probably went about an hour without a bite. And like I said, I was on the outside edge of the grass for most of the day. One of those lipless crankbait fish was where there was an indention in the grass, but I thought, "I'm going to get behind all that stuff on what we call the inside edge," started throwing the Rage Swimmer. Best quality fish I've caught today so far. So that's exciting. We're starting to put something together.
Gosh, another nice. Super clear water there. Oh, yeah. Pretty one. Look at that. Yes. We're definitely on a pattern. Another pretty fish. And that swimbait is just the go-to whenever you get around this really clear water like this. Put her back. Went right back in the grass. That's really the thing. When you get behind that grass edge out there and you come into the shallower water, what you'll have a lot of times on that inside edge is the water will be super clear. I mean, even out there, the water is clear. But in that inside edge, you'll have even more real clear water. And to a degree, this little spinner right here might actually be too much flash in this really clear water. There's a little bit of ripple so that's good. If there was no ripple, it was totally flat, I would probably just go with a straight weedless like an Owner Beast Hook and fish it through here and just kind of slow roll it over these areas. There's some holes and some different things and I believe some of these are spawners. As crazy as that sounds, I believe some of these are spawners, and some of them are just fish up here trying to cash in on some bluegill and crawfish and whatever baitfish might be up here. But we're definitely on a pattern now.
Swimbait's a lot of fun, especially in clear water like this. The swimbait is such a natural-looking presentation as it comes through the water, and in clear water I think is really where it really excels. I've caught them in more stained water too. But in this clear water like this, man, it is hard to beat. And again, I've chosen something where I can cover water and really try to assess where the best populations of fish are. And then I could slow down, like I might come back through here and throw a drop shot or a wacky rig, and may be able to catch a few more in this area. I've seen a couple cruisers too. So there's definitely more fish around here. They may not all eat the swimbait, but this is one of the ways in which I find fish and one of my favorite ways to catch them when I'm trying to find fish in a grassy lake. There's another one. Oh, golly. Yeah, this is it. I saw him come up behind it. And he just ate it, sucked it in, and started swimming off to the right. And he loaded up on the rod. Come on, quit for a second. Got him in that lower jaw. I mean, he wasn't going anywhere. There we go, popped him free. Look how pretty they are in the grass. So nice. So nice. Put her back.
Well, I kind of ran that pattern to its end. And actually, the further I got back in this arm, the water got colder, I mean, to the point where it was 45 degrees shortly after I'd caught those few fish. So I've had to move and begin combing grass again. And with the conditions like they are still with a little bit of ripple, the sun's gotten higher, in my mind, it's going to position those fish into the grass. Some of those ones that were sitting up on top of it are going to go into the grass. So I'm going to pick up my flip and stick. I've got a soft plastic bait here, a Rage Bug, and I've got an ounce and a quarter here, and I'm going to punch all this heavy hydrilla, all these...it's not quite matted, it's underneath the surface here, but gonna try to catch some of these bass that are tucked up underneath this grass. That's one thing about grass is the bass will actually relate to the grass.
There's one. Not a very big one, but he was one. He liked that Rage Bug. Man, they're so pretty. And that's the thing about bass in the grass. They're so healthy. Everyone, even the little ones, they're just pretty. They're healthy fish. They're very efficient feeders in those close-quarter situations inside this grass. I want to get back in that same spot. A lot of times in the grass when you find them in a specific spot, there'll be another one in there. Let's see if there's another one in there.
What I was saying was, that's the thing about all cover types, but even specifically with grass because that's what we're talking about is the fish will position differently based on the conditions. So like this morning, some of those fish were up on top of the grass. And then as the sun got higher, some of those areas with those shallow patches of grass, those fish began to vacate and start to go into the grass. And so instead of being on top of it, they pull off the sides, actually in the holes. And now I feel like with the sun as high as it is, there's definitely some fish inside the grass now, inside these tufts of hydrilla out here. So we're going to try to extract a few of these guys.
Whenever I'm flipping grass, I want to have these edges like this, like you can see here in the water. I want those edges where you can see there's dark water right here and then you move up and the grass is matted up, or canopied, or it's got tufts of it. That's where those fish will move from like right here and just go straight in there with the changing conditions. But I want a nice edge. Those nice clean edges are definitely places where the fish relate to. Anytime you have edges, whether it's an offshore hump, or ledge, or different type of cover types where you have a edge, where there's a shade edge, those edges are super important.
Little guy. Well, it seemed like the bite shut down and couldn't really get anything on the bladed jig or the square bill. So I've turned to the punch rig, just flipping grass with the soft plastic in a big ounce and a quarter, I believe, size weight. There you go. But that's kind of typical for what can happen in a day of fishing, regardless of the types of cover you're fishing. The fish are going to adjust to the position of the sun. The sun gets up high and they don't really want to chase anymore or they don't really get up there where they're as susceptible to those horizontal moving baits like the rattle bait and the bladed jig. It just turns out that they will tuck down into that cover, into the grass. And so I've turned to the flipping rig and put on a soft plastic, and I'm just in there picking apart this grass.
Yes. That's the kind you're looking for right there when you're flipping that deep grass like that. I mean, I got him. That's a pretty one, boy. Not very thick, but he is long and lean. Put him back. All right. Gotta be another one in there.
There we go. We found him. That one didn't even sink all the way to the bottom. These fish are lean over here. I love catching them on that braided line and flip and stick, and the heavy weight. Too much fun.
Well, it's finally starting to warm up. When I was driving to the lake, I thought I saw mid to high 20s. It was like 26 or 28 on the way to the lake. It was pretty cool this morning, especially for East Texas. I think when I got here, it was probably the low 30s. Water temperature was in the mid to high 60s in different places. I did find some water temperature that was in the 40s. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that we had some couple rainy days with some really cool nights and that runoff was probably ice cold as it was coming into the very top end of the lake.
Well, those are a few of my favorite baits and ways to catch them whenever I'm on a lake that has a lot of grass. Most of the baits that I fished were moving type baits, horizontal moving type baits where you're chunking and winding like the square bill, and the bladed jig, and the Red Eye Shad, the lipless crankbait, and the swimbait, too. But that's because I feel like on a lot of these grass lakes, you really have to comb through a lot of it. You have to be able to cover a lot of water to find those specific little spots where the fish are located. And so moving type baits are great.
Until you find that little point in the grass or a section of grass where they're using or maybe even 100 or 200 yards stretch of grass on a flat with a drain and maybe a creek channel coming through it, you really need to move and be flexible about what you think they might be doing and what they might not be doing. Like today, one of the best decisions I made today was to get in behind the grass line up in that really shallow water. And on the inside edge of that grass, that's where they were. Was able to capitalize them on with the swimbait.
Of the baits that I fished today, the three that were the biggest producers were the rattle bait, the swimbait, and then, of course, flipping that grass with the heavy weight.
Well, I hope some of the things that I did today help break down fishing lakes with a lot of grass in them. And they can be pretty intimidating when you get to them, and you just see miles and miles and miles of grass. Just remember, you want to be able to keep an open mind. You want to remember that the structural element is still key where those fish will relate structure-wise, even if there's no grass there, that's a key place that you want to check out, so points and humps and edges. The edges of the grass are big, too. The inside and the outside, those are things you want to keep in mind as well.
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