Weedbed Bass

By Dave Lorier - July 9, 2015
Weedbeds offer shade, ambush points, and a smorgasboard of craws and panfish, making them one of the most reliable places to find bass. The most difficult task in fishing vast weedbeds for bass is to actually find the fish. Flipping is arguably the most effective way to catch bass in dense vegetation but this relatively slow technique makes it hard to cover water and locate a school. Weedbeds in most Midwestern lakes have not yet reached the surface and it is still possible to entice bass into revealing themselves by using a search bait, and then slowing down to methodically flip in the vacinity of where you initially hooked up.
The type of search bait employed really depends on the height and thickness of the weedbed. When weeds are relatively sparse, a rattle trap or chatterbait ripped through the vegetation are the best options for triggering strikes. As the weeds become thicker and nearer to the surface I tie on either a Bass Stalker Swim Jig or Kalin's Sizmic Shad Swimbait due to the ease that these lures snake through the weeds. As weeds continue to grow, limiting lure options even further, a topwater such as a Pop-R or Spook can elicit bites, especially in low light conditions. Using a search bait will continue to work even after the beds have reached the surface - the difference is that you can really only search the edges where weeds drop off into deeper water. In this situation crankbaits or swimbaits matched with a heavy Swim Bait Jig are needed to probe the depths. On jagged weed lines, "accidentally" hanging up on a protruding clump and ripping the bait free from the vegetation often trigger bass into biting. The water clarity and baitfish in the lake determine lure color selection. Most waterbodies that I fish are relatively clear with strong populations of bluegills and therefore I use baits that mimic this natural forage base.

The key to this two part technique is to mark a waypoint where you catch a fish (or even get a strike) on whatever search bait you are using. Maybe make a few more casts, but then pick up your flipping stick and dissect the area where you initially caught your fish. Bass in and on the edge of weeds are often schooled up and numerous largemouth can be pulled from a relatively small area in a very short period of time. Flip by making short precision casts, letting the bait free-spool to the bottom. The majority of bites come on this initial drop but sometimes shaking the bait and bouncing it a few times can draw in nearby bass. Anytime a bite is detected hookset immediately as finicky fish may feel the heavy weight it takes to get through the weeds. Keeping your rod tip low makes it easier to make a fast and strong hookset that quickly get bass headed out of heavy cover. Once the fish is in the boat, flip back as quickly as possible to keep the school ignited!

Over the years I have been continually experimenting with different flipping baits. The Grass Stalker Jig is a great option when matched with a craw style trailer. The classic jig and pig combo with an Uncle Josh Pork Craw always catches fish but sometimes trailers with more action get more bites. Kalin's Scrubs with their two paddle style "pinchers" flap wildly on the drop. I also really like to flip Texas rigged plastics like a craws, beavers, or 3.5 inch Kalin's Tubes (my favorite is dirty bluegill, a "double dipped" tube with a green pumpkin shell and blue core). Weed thickness and what the fish are eating determines what bait is tied on my rod. Speed of the drop is also important to consider and I have had success flipping baits ranging from ½ to 2 ounces (weed thickness also plays heavily in weight selection). When fishing with a partner we always start with one person flipping Texas rigged plastics while the other pitches various jig combos until we dial in what the fish want on that particular day.

Flipping is by far my favorite way to catch largemouth but, as I said, finding the fish can be difficult. Using a search bait has greatly sped up the process of locating schools enabling me to catch more fish in the style I prefer. Give this one-two punch strategy a shot this summer and flip more bass in the boat!

Author Dave Lorier
Dave Lorier
Dave Lorier lives in Oconomowoc and has been hunting and fishing in Wisconsin since his childhood. Dave earned his degree in wildlife ecology from UW Madison and then went on to work for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in Fisheries Research and Management. Presently Lorier is a high school science instructor and also teaches youth outdoor education courses. Dave enjoys all types of fishing and hunting, especially competitive bass fishing, bow hunting, and ice fishing for bluegills.