Over the past couple months from late July-October I have had a lot of good days fishing. Almost all of the lakes that I’ve had success on have had one thing in common…Alligatorweed. I also call it creek grass because you frequently see it while wading or floating the creeks and streams nearby. This can be a great piece of structure for quality sized bass if you know how to utilize it. This type of weed can be quite invasive; it can grow out just a foot off the bank or it can grow way off the bank and form very thick mats that can be difficult to fish without the right bait or equipment. When dealing with alligatorweed there are a few key things to look for and how to convert those keys into bites.
Don’t be afraid to punch!
Punching through the grass and weeds has always been an effective way at pulling big fish out of these thick beds. The hardest part is getting to those fish and keeping your bait in the strike zone. One of the best baits to use when punching alligatorweed is a jig. You can go all out and go with a “punching” jig which has a triangle head, so it falls through the weeds easier or you can go with a regular flipping jig in the 1/2 oz-3/4 oz range. Jigs are extremely effective because they have the bulk and the mass to get through the weeds and deep into the weed bed where these big bass roam. Don’t be fooled, the bed may look incredibly thick to us but those bass can easily maneuver through it and ambush. I like using braided line when fishing weeds; it cuts through the grass with ease and when you hook a fish deep in a bed of alligatorweed it can be extremely tough to pull them out. These weed stems can be as big around as your thumb so you can imagine how tough it is to horse a 4+ pound bass out of that stuff. I usually use at least 50 lb braid and often times I use 65 lb braid. A longer and heavy rod is a must to accommodate the braided line you will use. I use a 7’6″ Medium Heavy action with a reel that is able to pick up line quickly. I’ve noticed over the years that when bass are tucked into weeds that sometimes they want a bait dropped right on their head almost. Often times they won’t chase after something but if you drop a jig in one of the holes in the weeds then they will hit it almost immediately. You put all those things together and you have a fighting chance at getting one of these big bass to bite and also landing one.
*50-65 lb Braid
*7+ft Medium Heavy Rod
Make short flips!
I realize that in some of the extremely clear bodies of water that making short flips may not be the way to go due to the bass being more easily spooked. In most of the water I’m talking about the visibility is 5 ft or less. There is absolutely no reason to make a long cast when fishing this type of cover. The bass are tucked in tight to the grass and aren’t going to come very far out to ambush something. Bass when in this state are not as easily spooked because of the stained water and the thick cover they are in. You are doing yourself no favors of getting the optimal presentation, or landing the fish by making long flips/casts. When I’m flipping weeds I will get right up on the weeds with my boat and flip as many holes as I can, because as I’ve said you have to put it right in front of their face. If you are able to make short flips with the equipment that I mentioned above your rate of converting these bites into fish in the boat will go up exponentially.
Hit high percentage areas!
So you come up on a big weed bed there are two things you might feel: 1) You will feel excited because of all the targets to flip. 2) You will be overwhelmed because you have no clue where to start flipping. This is normal. Relax. When I’m fishing weed beds I am looking for high percentage areas. A high percentage area could be where the weeds intersect with a laydown or tree. It could be where there is a small stream or ditch with fresh rain water coming in with a nice patch of weeds around it. It could be a channel that swings in against the weeds so that the bass have shallow water next to deep water. Another could be where there is a big hole in the weed bed and it’s a great ambush point for bass to pop out and grab bait as it comes by. There are tons of things to look for but the main thing is you have to hit those high percentage areas with an effective presentation. You may fish a whole weed bed and then find one little clump where you catch a couple big fish. Ask yourself “why were they in that spot?” A thing that I have done lately is keep a notebook of these things I have observed that way in the future I have that background knowledge already in front of me to look back on.
All in all, weeds can be a great piece of structure to help you catch more and bigger fish. Alligatorweed is just one of the many types of grass and weeds that are effective. I hope that you can take some of these tips and tricks and put them to use on the water and enjoy the art of fishing the “jungle” that I call the weed beds.