- Tim Tucker
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Editor's note: April through June 2006, B.A.S.S. Insider presented by CITGO airs each BASS Saturday at 8 a.m. ET on ESPN2. Click here for details.
It is the scourge of skiers. It is cursed by boaters. It is despised by some fishermen. But intelligent, experienced anglers know it can be a boon for bass.
Native aquatic grasses, particularly hydrilla, milfoil and other fast-growing, stringy forms of vegetation have long dominated lakes throughout the country and especially in the Deep South where the warm weather enhances their expansion.
Big, weedy lakes can be quite intimidating.
But not to the experienced grass-bass anglers like Citgo Bassmaster Elite series pros Keith Phillips and Lee Bailey who have learned how to read the vegetation to eliminate water and locate the hot spots where bass congregate.
Though Bailey and Phillips approach the grass in a slightly different way, they both focus on three main items; quality of grass, breaks and deviations in the grass, and a surefire bait selection.
As summer fast approaches the aquatic vegitation in most reservoirs is already growing thick. So how do you pinpoint the bass in a sea of grass?
Top Citgo Bassmaster Elite series pro Lee Bailey has a basic approach to fishing vegetation that revolves around the contour and features found on the lake bottom.
In shallow weedy situations on Lake Guntersville and elsewhere, Bailey is a big fan of pitching and flipping a small, compact, bulky creature bait teamed with a large pegged bullet weight, which penetrates the thicker portions of shallow grass better than other lures.
Bailey most often targets the holes and edges of grass like hydrilla when using the close-quarters, hand-to-hand combat techniques of flipping and pitching for big-jawed grass bass. Again, he is targeting some irregular feature instead of blindly casting into a sea of weeds.
Another grass hot spot, especially in the springtime, is an inside grassline. It has long been known that bass are edge creatures. That is especially true of aquatic vegetation. On many reservoirs, the traditional winter drawdown often creates these almost magical spots as the impoundment refills in time for the spring spawn. During the low-water stage, abundant shallow habitat dries up only to be inundated a couple of months later. This transforms the weedy edge closest to the shoreline into a magnet for springtime bass.
To be a good grass fisherman is to be highly versatile.
Over the course of a fishing day, you may have to flip thick shoreline mats or back off and cast a Wacky-rigged Senko like Lee Bailey in the sparser grass off of the bank. Or use your electronics to locate deep-water hot spots well offshore. All in the same day.
CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series pro Keith Phillips certainly understands that. Growing up in Alabama, he has mastered all types of vegetation ranging from emergent to submergent to completely invisible waterweeds.
One of Phillips' most deadly grass techniques involves swimming a jig teamed with a Zoom Speed Craw through less dense vegetation. This is his idea of big-game hunting. He's searching for reaction bites from some of the most aggressive bass enjoying the sanctuary of the weedy, rooted cover.
Grass and bass. There is no better combination in fishing. And by following the tips of pros like Lee Bailey and Keith Phillips, grass fishing doesn't seem so intimidating.
The art of grass fishing.