|Largemouth Bass are one of the most sought after game fish by fisherman. When I started fishing, I would fish for bluegills and crappies in the shallow weeds. Every so often I would latch into a largemouth and boy could they fight. Soon I started to target Largemouth on my fishing outings as they are a bit more of a challenge but the rewards are much greater with a better fight. Most anglers go shallow in five feet of water and less to fish bass. This can and is a productive pattern to fish. This raises and interesting question though. Are all the bass in the lake in the shallow water?Weed line can be a very productive are to fish for many species from walleye to bass to musky. A weed line consists of an area or bed of weeds. I will use the general term weeds which could consist of many different kinds of vegetation from Cabbage to Coontail. As you move farther from the shore and the water begins to get deeper the weeds will begin to disappear. Depending on the water clarity a weed line could be as shallow as 6 or 7 feet or as deep as 15-20 foot on a clear lake. By using electronics, as you move deeper, you can easily see when the weeds disappear. Move shallow until the weeds begin to reappear on your electronics. Notice the depth at which this transition took place and it will be a pretty good bet that at that depth almost every where on that lake will be where the weed line is located.
Now that you have established the weed line depth it is important to keep your boat positioned outside of the weed line for the simple fact is the weed line is where you want to be fishing. Many bass can be caught in the shallow pads and weeds most of the summer, but I have noticed that I may not catch quite as many out on the weed lines but they typically are some of the biggest bass that that lake will have to offer. They are often not bothered out there either because most people are fishing the shallow fish.
|Photos courtesy of Jeff Koser with Advantage Angler
There are few main things that need to be explained while fishing this technique, Rods, Line, Jigs/plastics, and the action for the jig. First off are the Rods. I like to use a 6’6″ to 7’6″ medium Heavy to Heavy rods. The reason you want to use such a heavy rod is that the jigs you will be using will have weed guards and a big hook on them and you need to be able to drive that whole setup into the fish’s mouth and then be able to get it up and out of the deep weeds. The longer rods you can generate a bigger hook set and up your catch ratio. I prefer to use bait casting equipment but spinning equipment will work as well.
Line you will have several options. Many like to use the new superbraid lines. There are many manufactures of this line and all work well; this can be a personal preference. I like to use monofilament in the 14-17lb test range. The reason for this one day I may be fishing on a stained lake and the next day I may be on a clear lake. On the clear lakes I think that the bass can get a bit line shy with the superbraid lines. With monofilament I am good to go no matter which water I like to fish. The one tip I have for you here is to not skimp on this. Get a good line; remember this is the only link between you and a fish. As a fishing guide I do get clients that like to bring some of there own equipment. I have seen many cases of fish being lost due to line failure. I change my line often. I would at a minimum recommend at least changing the line once a year.
OK now let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this topic, the jigs and the plastics. I carry a wide variety of jig sizes and colors to match my fishing conditions. Typically I am using 3/8 oz. to a 1/2 oz. jig for this technique. Some things to consider when selecting a good jig for the weeds make sure that it has a good weed guard and I prefer a jig that has more of a cone shaped head. This permits it to swim and work through the weeds better. Also some will come with rattles and some will not. This is something that you will have to play with on a daily basis. I have had days when I could not get a bite. I switch to a jig with rattles and will start to catch fish. This can go the other way as well when they will not want the rattles and prefer a more subtle approach. The plastic trailer that I typically use is a craw tail. Again there are many on the market and you can choose your favorite. I do like to use the 4 inch craws and then I will pinch a ½ inch or so off of it before I thread it onto the jig. The reason for this is you do not want those claws to far from the hook. What happened if the bait is to long is the fish will rip the claws off of the trailer and not always get the hook. If I could offer one tip here is that I have not found a lake where black and blue jigs and trailers will not catch fish. I always have that color combo in my boat.
|Photos courtesy of Jeff Koser with Advantage Angler
The last piece to the puzzle is how to fish this setup. As I mentioned earlier, you want to position you boat so you are just outside of the weed line. You can then make a cast to the weeds. Let the jig sink to the bottom. Keep an eye on your line because if you see it jump or move to a side set the hook. I have had many fish pick it up on the initial drop. Once your bait has made contact with the bottom you will use a hop-hop-hop and let it again make contact with the bottom. Let it sit for a few seconds and repeat always being watchful of the line and setting the hook as needed. This hopping technique imitates how a crayfish swims or tries to escape when threatened. You must be willing to change your presentation; the fish will tell you how they like it. Sometimes you may have to hop it more aggressively or you may have to let it sit longer in on place and hop it more subtly. Even though these jigs are “weed less” they will still get hung in the weeds. When this happens make a quick aggressive snap like and pop the jig off of the weeds, many times it will snap free, the fish sees the jig in the weeds and when the jig explodes off of them they think it is trying to escape. This is an awesome trigger for the fish. This is when I get my most aggressive strikes.
This technique is one that with a little practice can be mastered by anyone. In the heat of the summer those bigger bass love to get out on the weed line and setup to ambush prey as they move in and out of the weed line. With the right equipment using this tactic could result in you catching some of the biggest bass of the season. Good luck and remember to set the hook and set it hard!
Scott Biscobing – Hodag Guide Service – www.hodagguideservice.com