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Mike Frisch: Fishing big bass on big flats

Tactics on how to pull big bass out of thick weed flats during the dog days of summer.

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Mike Frisch dropped a big jig to catch this summer bass. (Contributed photo)

The dog days of summer are a time when some outdoors enthusiasts concentrate more on water sports or golf and less on fishing. Not me. In fact, one of my favorite fishing patterns is happening right now.

The pattern I’m fishing is one that Duane Peterson, one of my fishing mentors, keyed me in to many years ago. It involves targeting largemouth bass on big weed flats on hot, calm, sunny days. Duane taught me that these conditions actually suck big largemouth into heavy weed clumps often found on flats for the cover and shade they provide.

Big flats and lots of weeds can intimidating. To simplify my search, I target three areas.

First, the deep or outside weedline holds lots of fish of all species during summer. However, I’m usually penetrating inside that weedline, not actually fishing the edge, as the bigger bass seem to tuck tighter into the actual weeds, especially during mid-day on bright days.

Also, the inside or shallow weedline, particularly if there is a distinct inside edge, maybe where the weeds quickly give way to sand, can be an overlooked hotspot. Again, I look for fish tucked inside that edge here too.

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Lastly, any heavy weed clumps right on top of a flat can be dynamite. When holding in those on-top clumps, the fish can be hard to pinpoint, particularly on very large flats. A good way to shorten the search is to run the flat with my main outboard and use my sonar’s Side Imaging to look off to the boat’s sides for good weed clumps.

Once a target area is identified, I start fishing by quickly moving along making short pitches with my bait to good weeds seen on my depthfinder or seen visually looking in the water. In addition to weed clumps, I look for holes in the weeds or dark spots to drop in. Dark spots are often thick coontail weeds that draw bass.

Good polarized sunglasses are a necessity for seeing these spots as well as other targets. The RLVNT glasses I started wearing this summer have been really helpful as they feature great polarization and contrast for increased visibility.

Patience is often required too, whether targeting fish tucked inside the shallow or deep weed edges or fishing on top. I might go a half-hour or 45 minutes fishing down a flat without a bite, and then, suddenly, boom, I hit four fish in four drops and they’re all big!

Luckily, once some bites are had, patterns usually emerge. For example, if I get on an inside weedline and find that the fish are tucked a few yards inside that edge in say 7 feet of water, odds are good I can target that depth and find more fish.

As for baits for dropping in weeds, a “big jig” (a flippin’ style jig), tipped with a high action trailer is my choice. My favorite jig is the Hack Attack, which is available in .05 and .075-ounce sizes (the two I use most), comes in great colors, and has a stout, sharp hook. It’s specifically designed for fishing heavy cover like dense weeds.

Bama Craw and Blue Craw color pattern jigs are my favorites. And, I always tip with a Rage Craw of a similar color. The kicking action of this craw on the fall can’t be beat.

I fish jigs on 20 pound fluorocarbon line and use a heavy flippin’ stick and quality baitcast reel. Power and strength are required in my rod, reel, and line for quickly horsing big bass from heavy weeds. Lew’s makes a variety of flippin’/pitchin’ rods that work great for this method as well as several quality baitcast reels that do a good job too.

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As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!

Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Follow Fishing the Midwest on Facebook for more “fishy” information!

Related Topics: NORTHLAND OUTDOORSFISHING
Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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