Of all the seasons, summer and early fall are my favorites.
I know this might sound crazy because of the boat traffic, the heat and the insects, but if you’re lucky enough to live near lakes that have deep vegetation, the fishing can be amazing.
For most of the spring, the majority of bass have been spread out in shallow water spawning and guarding fry. Typically, after the bass spawning cycle comes the shad spawn, bluegill spawn and mayfly hatches — all of which keep bass in most bodies of water scattered as they fatten themselves back up after the spawn.
But as soon as they seek shelter from constant fishing pressure or the heat and bright sunlight, the fishing is about to get good.
In most areas around the country that I have fished, it seems like deep vegetation gets really good about the time the bass finish up with their spring trip to shallow water and move out into their summer haunts. They love the deeper vegetation.
That vegetation — which can include milfoil, hydrilla, coontail and multiple other strains of grass — offers bass everything they need. Every species of prey that a bass feeds on seeks shelter in the vegetation, creating an all-you-can-eat bass buffet.
Depending on the time of year, there can be crawfish, bluegill, yellow perch, white perch, crappie, shad, minnows — and just about anything else you can think of — for them to feed on in the grass. Couple that with the cover and the ability to ambush prey and it’s bass heaven.
For an angler like myself, fishing deep vegetation is like bow hunting for whitetail. It’s high-risk, high-reward, and for those anglers that learn the subtleties of dissecting deep grass, it can be very rewarding.
The massive schools that are found offshore on lakes without vegetation by using sonar can be found in deep vegetation by learning how to recogonize and dissect key areas that bass use within the vegetaion. There are two tools I use to locate key areas much faster than I did years ago — Lakemaster mapping and Humminbird Mega 360.
Fishing deep vegetaion is no different than any other type of offshore fishing in that the key areas are high spots, points, ditches, depressions, ledges. It’s just harder to locate them when there’s submerged vegetation growing everywhere. By using my Lakemaster mapping card, I can quickly locate key summertime areas that bass prefer and then use my Humminbird Mega 360 to quickly locate subtleties like points, ditches or hard spots within the grass.
Once I settle on a piece of structure with grass present, I like to key on walls or edges within the grass. Bass use the outside edges of a deep grass line like a highway. They travel up and down the edge to feed and take shelter.
There are walls or edges that are formed inside large grassy areas that are magic as well. These areas are typically found where there are hard bottoms that prevent weed growth. Grass grows around the outside those spots making holes or walls within the grass. Bass generally position in the edge of these areas and ambush prey as it travels around or through the hole.
Deep vegetation grows in a variety of ways. Sometimes it grows all the way to the surface, or it may be topped out several feet below the surface. Sometimes it may be thick and dense, or it may be thin and stringy.
These are the things I consider as I make my rod, line and lure selection. I typically carry three models of Kistler Rods when I’m going to “drop grass,” and they will range in length from 7-6 to 7-10. I prefer a five-power blank for most applications but will use a four-power in thinner grass.
I have used Kistler Rods for many years and have worked with them on the development of these type of rods to get the actions right for this application.
For most applications in deeper grass, I like to use braided line in sizes from 30- to 65-pound test. But in thinner grass and clear water, I will use fluorocarbon in sizes ranging from 16- to 25-pound test.
My lure selection is simple, but it allows me to have multiple offerings for sometimes finicky summertime bass. My No. 1 go-to for deep grass dropping is a jig, and Dirty Jigs has a wide variety to choose from. I like a jig for several reasons, but the most important is the versatility. By selecting the right color skirts and trailer, I can imitate just about everything in the forage base.
My second choice would have to be a Reaction Innovations Beaver. Whether it’s the Sweet Beaver, Kinky Beaver, Spicy Beaver or the Smallie Beaver, they are deadly on deep grass fish. I will also use any model of the Beaver as a jig trailer or on a Texas rig.
My third choice for dropping grass would be a worm, either a straight-tail or curly-tail. They both are deadly on deep grass fish.
Whether it’s a jig or a Texas-rigged offering, I use a fairly heavy weight selection. For me, I generally start with a 1/2-ounce jig or tungsten punch weight and go up to 1 1/2-ounce for both selections.
All the parts of deep grass dropping I’ve covered to this point are important, but presentation is absolutely the key to success.
Most of the grass that I have success in with this technique generally grows in water 5 feet to 20 feet deep. It varies in thickness and most of the time grows vertically from the bottom.
It would seem like a fairly easy process to take a heavy lure and get it to fall through the grass to the bottom, but how it falls is the key to success. Most anglers who are new to dropping grass want to pitch their lure out and leave out just enough line so they can feel the bait as it’s falling. While you can catch bass doing that, the best presentation is to make short pitches and as the lure is going out, raise the rod and allow line to free spool off the reel, thus giving it slack so it can fall freely and vertically thru the grass.
I have spent many a summer day fighting the heat, the bugs and the boat traffic to enjoy some of my most amazing time on the water. If there are bodies of water near you that offer the chance to go deep grass dropping give it a try.
You might find it’s your new favorite way to fish!