It’s no secret that aquatic weeds are full of big bass. But successfully fishing thick weeds and hauling bass to the boat is easier said than done. We tapped four bass fishing experts to get the details on which weed species they target throughout the year and their best tactics for catching largemouths in the thick stuff.
SPRING: TULES & PENNYWORT
On the tidal waters of the California Delta, tournament pro Ken Mah knows the transition from winter to spring will find largemouths staging under mats of pennywort and dead tules. Weed mats banked against broken tule berms are best, and spots outside of shallow spawning coves with sparse tule cover are golden. Mah pays particular attention to points, thicker weed patches, and isolated weed patches while dialing in the active depth zone.
In overcast conditions, Mah probes weed edges and open pockets with a Spro hollow body frog, Stanley Ribbit buzz toad, or Osprey Talon swimbait. On brighter days, Mah goes right to his heavy rig—a Missile Baits D Bomb on a 3/0 punch hook.
SUMMER: HYDRILLA & PEPPERGRASS
The hot months find many bass passing the time in shady and well-oxygenated grass beds. On grass-heavy Toledo Bend, Texas guide Stephen Johnston often starts his day by looking for the topwater frog bite within stands of leafy peppergrass, where laydowns, stumps, and any other structure amplifies the opportunity. Running a weedless swimbait through the grass or swimming a 7-inch ribbontail worm (watermelon red, junebug, or green pumpkin) with a 1/16-ounce weight over the top also draws strikes.
Fish that don’t want to leave the deeper hydrilla beds for shallow feeding will roam the vegetation’s edges. Here, Johnston probes the grass perimeter with a 7-inch worm or a crankbait.
FALL: HYDRILLA BEDS
Autumn finds many bass chasing shad in creeks, but Bassmaster Elite Series pro Greg Hackney looks to main-lake hydrilla beds near channels for optimal, big-bass habitat. Here, largemouths find the cover they need to gorge on baitfish that munch the algae clinging to grass strands. Bass will typically patrol edges and use points, dips, and other contour features as feeding stations.
Hackney also looks for drains, which channel the migrating shad, and holes within a hydrilla bed, which indicate rocks or stumps below.
Hackney says that though spinnerbaits and chatterbaits is effective here, he looks for reaction bites by flipping a 1-ounce Strike King Hack Attack with a Rage Craw.
WINTER: OPEN WATER WEED MATS
When bass on Southern lakes stage for the forthcoming spawn, the random tangles of matted vegetation just outside the common spawning areas will harbor loads of pre-spawners. Rooted hydrilla fields, often mixed with pennywort, gather aquatic gypsies like hyacinth, water lettuce, and duckweed. The ensuing salad provides irresistible habitat for bass in all but the hottest months, when deep offshore waters beckon.
In healthy weed mats, pro angler JT Kenney punches through the vegetation with a black/blue Gambler Why Not (beaver-style bait), Texas-rigged on a 4/0 Cobra flipping hook with a 1 ½-ounce Reins tungsten weight. For optimal stealth, he prefers to use a pitching presentation.
More Bass Fishing Tips
How to Fish for Bass Like a Pro: Spinnerbait Tips from Kevin VanDam
How to Fish for Bass Like a Pro: Determine Fishing Conditions
How to Fish for Bass Like a Pro: Power Fish a Crankbait
How to Fish for Bass Like a Pro: Find Bass in Weeds
How to Fish for Bass Like a Pro: Choose the Right Hooks