May 10, 2015

Heavy Cover Bassin’ Tactics

By: Glenn Walker

Sometimes big bass are cruising on a flat or are schooled up nicely on a weed edge or point; those are the times that normal fishing tactics or even finesse fishing methods come into play.  Other times, these big bass will bury themselves in cover that is most dense on that given body of water. This is when you need to use the right gear, look for the right cover, and prepare to do battle with some big bass.

Finding bass buried in thick cover can happen any time of the year, given the correct circumstance and season.  But primarily, I’ll be looking for bass in this heavy cover during the summer months as they are looking to seek shelter from the heat and put themselves in prime ambush positions for an easy meal.

Heavy vegetation, both on rivers and lakes, is a great form of heavy cover in which to look for big bass.  Whether it is a lily pad field with slop on top of it on the Mississippi River or a dense patch of milfoil on a lake, I enjoy looking for big bass in these areas.  Some bodies of water have an abundance of this cover, so dissecting it and determining what other key features the bass are looking for is key.  Sometimes it is the depth or other forms of cover associated with it, such as a rock pile.

Prowling the waters that have heavy cover, sometimes means being in shallow water. Other times you are offshore fishing a thick milfoil patch.  Either way, you want to be able to navigate around that cover with ease and be in stealth like manner.  My 112 lb thrust Minn Kota Fortrex Trolling Motor allows me to have the power to drive through vegetation, but yet is quiet so I won’t spook any bass.  Once I find the cover I want to be targeting, I’ll drop my Minn Kota Talons so I don’t have to be worried about staying on my trolling motor to stay in position.  I can also focus on making multiple casts to the fish holding cover.

Using the correct gear is vital anytime you go head-to-head with big largemouth that have buried themselves in the thickest and nastiest cover out there. Choose an incorrect gear and your big catch will just end up being a big fish story.  There isn’t just one key item you need to have when fishing like this, all the pieces of the puzzle need to come together to create the best setup to hook and land big bass out of heavy cover.

Using a heavy action flipping stick will help you drive that hook through the fish’s mouth and turn them right away so they don’t further bury themselves in the cover.  Having a stout rod is important, but you still need to have a sensitive and light weight rod, so you can flip all day and feel those bites.  I rely on the Wright & McGill Victory Pro Carbon rod which is 7’4”, paired up with a Wright & McGill Victory Pro Carbon baitcast reel.  I’ll use the high speed (7.9:1) gear ratio reel, so I can quickly bring my bait up out of the cover if I don’t get bit on that initial fall.

There is no messing around with these bass and no skimping on the fishing line you spool your reel with.  Using a braided line is the only option in my opinion, for several reasons.  First, there is no stretch, so when you set the hook you are getting a solid hook set and two, as you set the hook, that braided line will actually cut through the vegetation and keep that bass from tangling up in the thick cover.  I’ll spool my reel up with 65 lb test Seaguar Smackdown braid.  As the braided line begins to lose its green color, I’ll take a black permanent marker and darken up the first several yards of line.

When I’m flipping a Texas-rig around heavy cover, I rely on a very strong, sharp and dependable Lazer TroKar TK130 Flippin hook.  This hook is super sharp, so you’ll stick a bass with ease and the TroKar barb near the hook eye, will keep your plastic in place as it gets brought through that cover.   Keeping your bait as low profile as possible will help it ease through the cover and not get hung up, so using a tungsten weight allows me to use the large weight needed to get through the cover, but keep its size small.  I’ll use an Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Tungsten weight that ranges between ½ and 1 ½ oz depending on how thick the cover is I’m trying to get through.

When it comes to bait selection, keeping it low profile again is key.  So using craws or creature baits with the fewest number of appendages will keep it from getting hung up on the way through the cover and let it get down to the bottom quickly.  When I rig up a Texas-rig for fishing heavy cover, it is either a Zoom Super Speed Craw or Zoom Super Hog.  For colors, I like to keep it simple and either use black/blue, green pumpkin and some form of a watermelon with a flake in it.

If I’m not flipping a Texas-rig, I’ll be flipping a jig in the heavy cover.  Which one I choose will depend on the cover I’m flipping, the body of water, and what preference the bass have shown me that they want.  For jigs, I’ll use between a ½ oz and 1 ½ oz jig.  They key when selecting jigs, is having a line tie that will not catch vegetation as it is brought through it.  You also want to make sure the jig has a sharp and strong hook in it, so it won’t bend on a hook set.  Using a trailer that keeps the bait compact and low profile is again important in having a natural looking presentation.

Now is the time to gear up, hook the boat on up and head to favorite lake or river and go looking for the thickest and most nasty cover available as it is time to get down and dirty for big bass!

Sidebar –Tackle Storage Tips

  • Keep your hooks in small bags and then put those bags in a waterproof Plano Stowaway case, this way you know exactly what size/style each hook is and they are protected from the elements.
  • Use a thin 3701 Plano Stowaway to store your plastics, this way you can keep a wide array of styles and colors. Then when you figure out the hot bait/color, you can throw a few extra bags in the boat!

Glenn has been fishing tournaments for over ten years, spreading his passion and knowledge of the sport via articles and videos.  He keeps busy fishing events across the Midwest and on the Mississippi River.  Glenn's sponsors include:  Ducky Products, Humminbird, Jeff Belzer Chevy, Mercury Marine, Minn Kota, Plano, Rayjus, Seaguar, Simms, Snag Proof, The Rod Glove, TroKar, Wright & McGill and Zoom Baits.  For more information check out glennwalkerfishing.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/glennwalkerfishing.