In the late summer months, the vegetation can get thick—very thick. As an alternative to fishing deep ledges or rock piles, I will flip and punch this vegetation. To start with, I pull out the right equipment for the job, which includes a Megabass Orochi XX Flippin’ Stick and a big one- to two-ounce weight, a strong hook, and a Z-Man Fishing Punch Crawz.
With the water at its warmest and the sun beating down, the fish are looking for any sort of cooler water temperature and more oxygen. Thick vegetation offers both, with the shade it produces the water temperature should be slightly cooler and the vegetation itself produces more oxygen in the water. If you can find the thick stuff near moving water, that is even better yet.
I’ll start by rigging up a high-speed reel with 65-pound braided line because getting a bite is only a small part of the battle here. Getting the fish out of the vegetation is the tough part, and that’s why I use super-strong, super-tough Tuf-Line XP. It’s important to have a good hook set and then immediately get the fish to the top of the vegetation and not let them go back into it. For big fish, that’s definitely easier said than done. Once you let the fish fight its way back down to the bottom of the vegetation, the game changes and the fish has the advantage. Even a smaller two- or three-pounder feels like a 15-pounder when it’s buried in 10 pounds of wet grass.
The first thing I look for are areas in a creek or oxbow that have some moving water or deeper water nearby. I pull up on an area and drop the Power-Poles to hold my position, because this isn’t a fast technique. If I can find an area 10 feet long by five feet wide I will make as many as 20 to 30 flips into the area. If I get a bite in the area I will stay and make another 10 to 15 flips in the same area. If it’s completely matted over, I’ll have to punch my way through the vegetation. I’ll choose my weight size based on the thickness of the vegetation, using a heavier weight allows the bait to get through thicker cover.
Key things to pay attention to are water depth and position of the bait when it gets bit. The depth of the water beneath the vegetation is key, once you get a bite or two I will know to look for areas with similar water depth. Then I pay attention to where the bait is when I get bit.
On a typical cast I will punch the bait through the vegetation and let it fall. I do vary the speed of the fall, sometimes I like to blast it on down to the bottom and other times I control the fall a bit to slow the bait down. Once it hits the bottom, I will shake it a few times. Here’s where I think some people might miss some bites. On the retrieve, before I pull it back through the vegetation for the next flip, I will pull the bait up just enough to get it to the bottom of the matted grass on top. Then I will shake it again. I learned back when I was living near the California Delta that crawdads don’t only live on the bottom, they like to get up in the vegetation and move around and feed. For this reason, bass will often feed off the bottom of the vegetation overhead. A few bites should allow you to start to see how the bass in the area are feeding, on the bottom or up off the underside of the canopy created by the matted vegetation.
I can’t stress enough how important the right equipment is with this type of fishing. Use a stout rod, a fast reel and line that is strong and tough or you can be in for a heartbreaker of a day. Once you get the right setup head on out to your lake and look for the thick stuff and have fun.
I hope this helps you catch more bass during this late summer and early fall period. For more tips or to get more information from me, like my page on Facebook at Facebook.com/LukeClausen. Feel free to post some pictures of the bass you pull out of the thick stuff while you are there.
Image courtesy Luke Clausen