Heavy Rigging for Grass Flat Bass Part 1: The Big Jig and Pig
Lots of bass anglers curse the “doldrums” of mid- to late summer. Unlike the shallow bass of spring and the hungry bass of early summer, August bass often take up residence in hard-to-reach cover and structure during these so-called “dog days.”
Bass of late summer aren’t hard to find, but they can be hard to reach – unless you’re armed with tools to pry them from their lairs!
The bass of the deep grass
On many natural lakes and impoundments with healthy vegetation, summer bass take shelter on the grass flats, weed edges and tapering breaklines where much of the deepest vegetation grows.
Dialing in bass in such areas can make the difference when it comes to weighing in a limit or bringing the “Big Bass” award home from your weekend tournament. Some of the best grass locations, however, can be among the hardest to fish.
I joined Matt Bichanich for some grass flat fishing on natural lakes in the area of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, last week. We found bass in prime fish-holding areas so typical of this late summer season. Equally important, we had the hardware and trailers to catch them.
Our first productive location featured sand grass, cabbage, and coontail, three types of vegetation common to lakes in the upper Midwest. Although the grass was abundant, it did not grow in impenetrable jungles but in patches and with only a moderate amount of the kind of moss or slimy algae that can discourage many types of presentations.
These were ideal conditions for triggering reaction strikes with heavy Uncle Josh “jig-and-pig” combinations and bullet-weighted Texas-rigged Kalin’s tubes (see Heavy Rigging for Grass Flat Bass Part 2: Texas-Rigged Tubes, coming in mid-August 2013).
Jigs of ¾-ounce or more seem excessive to many anglers, but “heavyweights” get down into, between or just above the grass patches where summer bass reside. Not only do they get into the “fish zone” quickly, but, fished on tackle suited to the task, they will rip free from grass stalks, often triggering strikes in the process!
“When I’m fishing around docks or boat decks, I am fishing a 3/8-ounce jig, but the first thing I do when I come out to eight- to 13 feet is step up to a ¾- to one-ounce Kalin’s Grass Stalker jig,” explains Bichanich “These seem to be the two best sizes. They allow the jig to penetrate deep, thick vegetation at those depths and to draw a reaction strike.”
The Grass Stalker’s head design works effectively in the grass, and the heavy ¾- and one-ounce models get down quickly and trigger bites with their rapid descent.
“I choose these big jigs because I want a reaction bite,” says Bichanich. “I want it to fall real quickly. Then I will pop it in the weeds. That’s when you get a reaction bite. Whether those fish are lethargic or aggressive, that fast fall should trigger some bites.”
We triggered bass from two- to nearly five pounds on the jigs, using two Uncle Josh pork trailers.
Matt preferred the big profile of the big Kalin’s Grass Stalker Jig and Uncle Josh #10 Big Daddy Pork Frog. The durability of this skin-on traditional pork bait also allowed him to fish the bait extremely aggressively.
My trailer option was the Uncle Josh MEAT 2.5-inch Diamond Frog, a more buoyant bait that matched up with the jig in a more compact and integrated bait configuration but which dropped more slowly due to its 100 percent pork fat composition.
Both combinations caught fish.
Other trailer options for this presentation include the Uncle Josh Jumbo Pork Frog (3-1/4” by 1-1/8”, packed in the traditional Uncle Josh jar), and the Uncle Josh MEAT Frog, Uncle Josh MEAT Beaver and Uncle Josh MEAT Craw. All MEAT trailers come in resealable plastic bags and with a rubber “keeper” device to hold the pork in place.
Tackle and presentation
Select a rod designed for pitching heavy jigs – a heavy or medium heavy flipping stick with lots of backbone, and a baitcasting reel to crank big bass out of deep, thick grass.
“I use a 7-1/2 foot rod and 50-pound test braid,” adds Bichanich. “Braided line is a must. Vegetation can be thick on some of these deep flats, and you want to turn their heads instantly and get them out before they hang you up in the coontail or sand grass or whatever you are fishing.”
No need for long casts on the deep grass flats! A 15-yard pitch is usually enough. Allow the jig to fall fast, and watch your line as it falls. When the jig hits the grass, start working it – and don’t be afraid to be aggressive!
“If you don’t get hit on that initial fall with the heavy Grass Stalker jigs, you will probably be in the weeds,” says Bichanich. “Pop it! A lot of times that’s when you get hit!”