Before We Get Started...
Here are my 25 ways tournament bass anglers and professional lake guides catch more bass in submerged deep grass better than you.
When I first started to learn how to fish submerged vegetation I made pretty much every mistake that an angler could make.
Like many of you I can’t fish everyday of the week, I have other priorities…family, job, honey-do list ect… but when I did get to go fishing the last thing I wanted was to get completely skunked on the lake. And every time I fished submerged grass I would catch NOTHING, ZERO, ZILCH, GOOSE EGG!
I couldn’t figure out how these other guys were just slaying bass in this submerged vegetation. Boy was I frustrated!
I started talking to the pro’s at various bass tournament meetings and events. I finally got the courage to do some impromptu interviews on those who fish for a living. I then created a list, a battle plan approach to grass fishing, I started to be more successful.
Regardless of your skill set this article is for everyone…
If you’re new to fishing in thick weeds then this article is great because it really walks you through how to make this technique work immediately. Through feedback, veteran of grass fishing told me this article conveniently dusted off some previous techniques that they have forgotten about.
When I first started out as a bass angler I learned quickly that to be a good angler I needed to be versatile.
I’m expected to know how to catch fish in all sorts of conditions, all sorts of cover and need to be able to go from one body of water to another and apply those same principles.
In the majority of the lakes we face in this beautiful country we will find one of the most common types of cover… submerged grass, which can be either shallow, deep or sometimes both.
Grass grows the best in the warmest and hottest months of the year, meaning late May through August. That time is also when we have the most intense amount of sunlight.
I’m here to tell you that if you’re not fishing grass during this time of year than you are actually missing out big fish opportunities.
So it’s time to get a little nerdy…What is a thermocline?
I know you didn’t come here for a complete science lesson but I promise this is worth talking about.
Grass will grow best above the area called a thermocline. To make it easier for you to understand, the thermocline is actually a separation within the water column into two layers, an upper and lower layer….
The area above the thermocline will have the most oxygen whereas the deeper levels of the lake will have less oxygen…
So naturally we’ll find more life where there is more oxygen (the upper layer). And this friends is the layer you want to target when grass fishing.
Why is knowing this important to you? The next time when you’re on your boat find out how to find the thermocline on your fish finder. Once you do that, fish everything about the thermocline for the rest of the day. It will save you a TON of time and increase your chances of landing a monster bass.
What are the types of grass found in most lakes?
For those that are not botanist, or really don’t know the different types of grass, there are many types that we will see on the lake especially in deep water, hydrilla, milfoil and coontail are some of the most common species of grass.
Milfoil and coontail you will see all around the country, however hydrilla is typically found in the southern end of the United States.
How do I determine what grass patches that will hold the best bass?
Well your answer is pretty simple when you think about it. The greenest grass produces the most oxygen and that attracts more small critters that the bass will feed on. And bass will always follow an easy meal.
So if you find a handful of patches some of which are very green versus some of which are brown and dying always, always, always fish the greenest grass patches.
Do you know when the best time to fish deep grass patches on any lake?
It to is pretty easy to when you think about it…
Keep in mind that healthy grass produces a ton of oxygen, and in order for the grass to produce a massive amount of oxygen, it is going to need sunlight.
And when do we have the most sunlight? It’s during the middle of the day where the sun is directly overhead.
This is why it’s best to fish deep grass and weed beds during the middle of the day when the sun is at its brightest.
Do bass like one type of grass in a single area or if there's multiple types of grass present?
Bass will typically hang around areas that have multiple types of vegetation present. Reason being it gives the bass a buffet of opportunities to eat different critters.
Depending on the type of grass, some grass can grow to be very tall, which would be a great little hiding place for shad and other baitfish.
Other species of grass that is short and thick will give shelter to other species of bottom dwelling baitfish and crawdads.
Here’s a cool little story that I can share with you…I was fishing a large grass area and I heard small little pop / sucking / slurping sounds and it turned out to be some bluegill and tilapia that were in the area. And wouldn’t you know it the bass we’re nearby. So the next time you’re out make sure that you listen for those subtle sounds that will help you key in on certain areas of grass patches.
In other words this gives the bass a gigantic feast of opportunities to feed! Yum!
So what if you're at a lake and there are literally miles of grass, where do you fish first?
In essence, there are two main high percentage areas where you need to fish first.
First are the points and irregularities. Just like if you were going to fish rocky points from a rocky bank, the same goes for fishing the same type of points that are naturally created by the grass. They create prime ambush areas even if the grass patch is deep.
As the temperature starts to warm up you start to notice the best hang outs are towards the outside edges or points of the submerged weed beds.
Once I’ve fished the points of the grass I’ll target the inside cuts and holes of the grass patches.
Targeting cuts is like fishing a really small cove. Take your jig, cast it to the back of the cut and slowly swim it back. Make sure you give it a few jerks to get the bass’ attention.
The cool thing here is that with a good pair of polarized sunglasses, you’ll easily see the deep dark holes where a bass could be hiding in…
Take your favorite jig and give it a little flip in the there, allow it to fall straight down into the hole. Once it hits bottom give it a little shake or two. Many times the bass that are hanging out in there will take notice and crush it!
How do I fish grass when it's windy?
Wind can either be your friend or foe depending on if you use it to your advantage.
Windy conditions will actually push the bait into a certain area. That will attract bass who are looking for an easy meal. Give mother nature a high-five because she just made your life a heck of a lot easier, you wont have to go as far to search for those mouthy predators.
Strong winds also stir up the vegetation which puts more oxygen in the water, which causes the bait fish to go into a feeding frenzy which triggers the bass to feed.
Areas that are irregular such as pockets, points, bluff walls, steep banks or isolated clumps of submersed grass all act as great corralling areas.
Look on your map and look around when you’re on the water to find small areas that could possibly corral the small bait fish when it’s really windy.
I can remember when I was on the boat and it was just insanely windy but I had noticed the wind pushing against a large bluff wall that had a small concave pocket. What was different about this pocket was there was a shimmery look to it underwater. Little did I know that the wind was pushing a giant school of shad against the wall.
I backed off and threw a white and silver jig and swam it through the shad school and caught an absolute giant!
So make sure you find those pockets because It can really pay off.
What are some other ambush points around grass?
Some of the most productive areas that you can fish are small irregularities such as a large boulder, a rock pile or submerged timber around a grass patch.
I was fishing a pretty boring flat grass patch and I couldn’t find a single spot that I thought would have any bass.
Then I noticed on my graph that there was a couple of submerged trees in that area so I threw out a jig and reeled it past the tree and sure enough that jig got crushed.
I thought this was just a fluke so I decided to try it again on another piece of nearby timber that was next to that same grass patch, and sure enough another bass hammered that!
I soon came to a realization that these bass were using the timber as ambush points, hiding behind it in the shaded side.
So when you’re fishing grass patches look for irregularities the bass can hide behind so when the small bait fish or bluegill are feeding in the grass, they can jump out and eat some of those little fish!
How do I incorporate my sonar when fishing deep grass piles?
By dialing in the sensitivity setting on my sonar, I was able to find submerged grass that not only had baitfish in or around it but had bass relating to the area as well. After some tweaking I concluded that the arks with more red than yellow were bass.
So make sure you can: 1) Tell the difference by what is a grass patch from what is not. 2) How to find the schools of baitfish. 3) Play with the settings and remember what the larger arks look like, because when you start catching bass in this area, you’ll then know what they look like on your graph next time.
Keeping your spot without telling everyone else…
I remember a frustrating day I was fishing a deep grass patch on a pretty crowded lake. I hadn’t taken the time to learn my sonar to make way-points, but being a little old school I threw out an old marker buoy to visualize my spot. When I started catching some fish I started to get some attention from some of the other local anglers. Soon I started to get some unwanted company on that same grass patch!
That same evening, I broke out my owner’s manual and read up on how to properly create and catalog way-points.
Being able to save your GPS way-points on your graph is awesome because if you have one of the new super high-tech fancy trolling motors that can actually keep you on that spot without having to have your foot constantly on the pedal! Goodby low back pain!
Talking to some fishing guides around my local lakes they also told me that they will save seasonal way-points for grass patches!
Now I thought this was a super cool idea because throughout the year grass patches will grow as the weather gets warmer, or they’ll will shrink as the weather gets colder. So it’s important to know where the green is.
When you’re out on the lake fishing your favorite grass patch, make sure you come back to it throughout the year and mark it on your GPS. Just because an area works great during the summer, chances are, that same area will not work during the winter.
What's the best gear for grass fishing with jigs?
If you’re totally serious about fishing for bass buried deep in the grass there is no doubt that you need some special gear to fish this technique properly.
For rods, I would go with a long 7-foot 11 in heavy action rod with a fast sensitive tip. Basically, you want your rod to be as long you can, strong as a broom handle, but light as a feather.
Longer rods also allow you to pitch and flip out farther.
For a reel, I would choose a high-quality real with an extra fast gear ratio. The higher gear ratio allows you to bring in more line per turn of the handle.
This is important because you do not want that bass to further bury itself in the grass where it could gain the extra leverage to throw that bait that you just caught it on. Does that make sense?
For my line, I like to use 50-to-65 pound test braided line. Every once in awhile I will use a fluorocarbon leader if the bass are shallow or if the water is clear. In those cases I would use a 15 to 20 lb fluorocarbon leader.
However, the majority of time I use braided line only.
Below I linked to a great video created by Tactical Bassin’ where they go over the best knots for braided line. You gotta check this video out.
Video Cred: Tactical Bassin
For example, I can recall I was pitching in a small cut of heavy milfoil and my fishing partner and I were talking. I wasn’t paying attention and a bass ate my lure and took off…
When I figured out that I had a bite I reeled down, leaned back and set the hook. That braided line cut straight through the vegetation like a hot knife through butter and allowed me to bury that hook in that bass’ mouth. Fluorocarbon line doesn’t really cut through grass nearly as efficiently as braided fishing.
I can remember when I first started fishing jigs in deep grass my fishing buddy would ask me why I’m using such heavy gear. He would joke around and say “looks like you’re going to catch Moby with that!”.
Well I told him that even if I do catch a 3-to-4 pound bass a lot of times I’m bringing up another 3-4 pounds of grass and vegetation, so I can’t use a wimpy set up. Image if I was going to catch a 5 or 6 pound bass!
A big take away lesson that I’ve learned from some of the best grass fishing professionals and lake guides is that if you’re going to take jig fishing in deep grass seriously, you have to go all in and get the hardcore heavy duty setup.
What are the best jigs for grass fishing?
The jigs that have given me the most success are jigs that are normally considered larger in stature.
Half ounce to 3/4 ounce jigs are normally my go-to size.
Don’t get this confused with punching floating mats…I use much heavier jigs than that. But, that’s a different article.
In submerged grass that has less than 8 to 10 ft depth I will reach for a half ounce size, and anything deeper than 10 to 12 feet I will go for a three quarter ounce size.
There’s an exception that I use… If there is quite a bit of wind and I am fishing grass I will automatically upsize my jig a quarter ounce no matter what the depth is.
The color is more important than the brand. The color needs to match the surrounding forage such as green pumpkin, watermelon, sprayed grass, black and blue, and all black.
Depending on the time of year I will use different soft plastic trailers. On a regular day I will reach for a Strike King rage craw or a Berkley chigger craw.
If the weather is cold and I’m fishing in deep grass I will either throw on a zoom super chunk or even an Uncle Josh pork chunk trailer.
Don’t forget about pork chunk trailers because unlike the soft plastic, states that get stiff in the cold water and lose it’s action, the natural pork chunk will stay soft and natural looking.
One last thing to remember when you’re fishing bass that are held up in deep thick vegetation you want to use a trailer that has a narrow profile. This allows it to slip through the vegetation much easier than a big bulky profile.
How do I retrieve my jig when fishing in grass?
The best success I’ve had and that I think you should consider doing is a four-step approach.
The first is called the “pop and die”. Pitch it out several feet and with a strong upward pop motion. Then you pop it on the grass as fast as you can and just let it drift down back into the grass.
The second method is called the “pop-pop and die”. Like the first method you pop it out of the grass as hard as you can and instead of letting the jig sink to the bottom. Right as it’s touching the tops of the grass you give it another pop and then let it sink. This makes your bait look like it’s a small crayfish looking for an opening to bury itself in.
The third method is, after you cast out, raise it up enough to where is clearing the top and just shake it a few times and then allow the bait to fall back down.
The last retrieval method one can be best described as a slow swimming method. Give it a short cast and instead of letting your jig bury itself in the grass you slowly retrieve it like your swimming it, but you’re letting it intentionally touch the grass tips.
As your retrieving it every once in awhile give it a sharp jerk upward and then go back to the slow methodical retrieval.
Mix and match the retrieval methods as you see fit. I prefer to start with the more aggressive retrieves first to get the aggressive ‘reactive striking’ bass to commit. Then I’ll slow it down and use the shake or swim methods. Does that make sense? Good.
My mistakes fishing bass in grass...
One of my biggest mistakes that I’ve had when first starting learning to fish for bass that are buried deep in the grass was I was casting out way too far.
When you cast out too far, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re sure to drag an absolute ton of grass and moss on your jig. This would give it an incredibly unnatural presentation, plus if you’re like me you’re sure to say some choice words you Grandma would scold you for sayin’! Hehehe.
Another mistake I have made was after spawn. I would start from the mouth of the cove and move towards the back. This is completely wrong because after spawn the fish don’t go more shallow, they go deeper.
So either on my GPS or using a marker buoy I would mark where I know the bass has spawned. Then I would search for a ledge that has a 8 to 10 ft drop off.
Many times in the lakes I’ve fished, this is the ideal depth at the bass would retreat to after spawning.
How do I set the hook when fishing jigs in grass?
The best way to do this, when you feel that you have a bite you immediately give that hook set a jerk. You will want to pause just for a second and then lean back into it.
The reason being is that if you immediately set the hook as hard as you can sometimes that big weight will pop open that bass’s mouth and your hook will not be given an opportunity to set itself.
So the next time you get bit, reel down make it to taunt and then lean back and set the hook hard!
So there you have it… the 25 Ways Tournament Bass Anglers Catch More Bass in Grass Better Than You.
I know I put in a ton of information in this article, so I hope you’re not mad that I over delivered just a little bit.
All I care about is helping you catch more fish!
Catch Your Legend!
(Chief Fishing Enthusiast)
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