Secrets for fishing aquatic vegetation from a Bassmaster Pro

Published 1:34 pm Thursday, September 16, 2021

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For anglers not used to picking apart coontail, eelgrass, milfoil and hydrilla, approaching massive acres of aquatic vegetation can be intimidating. Bassmaster Elite Series pro and Team Toyota angler Brandon Lester of Fayetteville, Tenn., has made a detailed study of how to pluck bass from grass en route to 21 Top 10 finishes in his short career. Lester shared his playbook for fishing “the salad.”

Look For Variety

To an untrained eye, expansive acres of matted vegetation might all look the same. Look closer at a place like iconic Lake Guntersville and you will often find coontail, eelgrass, milfoil and hydrilla mixed together.

“Anytime you see three or four species of vegetation growing together, I can almost assure you that’s going to be a great place to get bites,” said Lester. “In fact, you need to look for places where one kind of grass marries up against the other to form a sort of a transition.”

Create A Disturbance

One trick Lester learned from the “old-timers” was to run his boat into the middle of grass mats to stir the ecological pot beneath. Obviously, this should be done with caution because you cannot be totally sure what hazards lay beneath the huge carpets of vegetation.

After stirring the pot, stop and listen before ever making a cast. Lester and others will tell you that if the bluegill, bugs and baitfish are active it will sound like Rice Krispies cereal crackling in a bowl of milk.

“If you’ll be patient and listen for two or three minutes, you’ll be able to hear if things are popping and crackling, and if they are, your chances of getting bit are good,” said Lester. “But if you don’t hear the ‘Rice Krispies’ you should move on.”

Punch Hydrilla And Throw A Frog In Milfoil

“I want to be careful about not speaking too general here, but in order to make grass fishing a little easier to grasp, typically, hydrilla grows a little deeper near the main river or creek channel, versus milfoil that grows a bit shallower toward the back of the creek,” said Lester.

“For the most part, hydrilla is best suited for punching a little beaver-style creature bait on a 1.5-ounce weighted Texas rig. Whereas milfoil may only have two or three feet of water under its mats, so they can find a frog a lot easier.”

Lester uses 50-pound Vicious No-Fade braid when frogging and 60-pound braid when punching a Texas rig.

Drop Some BBs In Your Frog’s Belly

Asked to pick just one frog amid a fishing tackle universe overpopulated by amphibian look-alikes, Lester chose a Spro Bronzeye 65 in natural red color, but he adds a little magic.

“I’ll drop two or three BBs into my hollow-bodied frogs to add a little noise, and if the grass mats are superthick like hydrilla often gets, I’ll actually add a single 1/2-ounce worm weight inside my frogs to make them sit deeper in the water as they bulldoze their way through the thick stuff,” explained Lester.

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