One of the frustrations of fishing in heavy cover is getting hung up, or having your bait get stuck and needing to free it constantly. This happens more often with multiple exposed hooks, but it can occur even when you’re worm fishing. But, if you take a moment to look at the weight you are using, you might be able to make things a little easier on yourself.
First of all, you need to be using a bullet weight, and you have to make sure that weight is pegged so it stays tight to your worm. There are small rubber pegs that you can buy that will do this, or you can use the old toothpick method. I use weights that screw down into the plastic of the worm. That’s the easiest way to secure the weight to the bait. No matter how you choose to peg your weight to your bait, it is a must.
Now, selecting the size of your weight is very important to catching bass in heavy cover. I want to find a weight that barely takes that worm down into the grass. I prefer my bait to have a very slow fall in this type of cover. I want it to get down into the areas where the bass are lying, but I don’t want it to fall so fast that they don’t get to find it either. It can be a tricky balance finding that right size weight, so a little trial and error may be in order.
I like to start with a weight that is very light. If I believe the bait is not getting down as deep as I need it to, then I put on a weight one sixteenth-ounce heavier. What this will do is tell you where those bass are positioning.
By putting bigger weights on, and getting the bait to drop into those thicker areas, you will be able to determine where the bass are holding up. You may not get a bite with a lighter weight because it isn’t getting deep enough. Once you start getting bites, you will know what depth they are in — and that the weight you are using is the right one.
I can’t tell you the number of times I couldn’t get a bite in a certain area, but simply changing the size of the weight I was using made a total difference. Swapping that weight was like fishing new water — even though it was the same spot, just into the deeper parts of the cover.
The one thing I can tell you for certain is that the heavier the cover, the more likely you will get hung up. With a heavier weight, you will get hung up even more. But the one advantage the heavier weight has in thicker cover is that it is easier to detect a bite because you can feel that bait moving. The lighter weight can get hung up as well, but it’s a little tougher to detect a bite than it is with a heavier weight. For that reason alone, I often scale that size up just a little bit more than I need when I fish that type of cover.
My next tournament will be in cover like this. The spot where I have bass has extremely thick cover under the surface: Hydrilla, eel grass, and some noodle grass. It’s not easy to get a bait through that vegetation. But once you do, and that bait emerges on the edge of that heavier cover, it gets hit. That’s where the bass are hiding and hanging out. It’s a tough way to fish for an entire day, but if you want to get in where the bass are hiding, deep water and heavy cover is usually a solid place to start looking.
I will often use a worm when fishing like this, but I also use a lot of senkos. The senko is it is a straight bait, so it’s less likely to get hung up in heavy cover. Bonus: You can generally get away with using a little lighter weight as well. Because of that straight body, it does not hang up on the vegetation as it falls through.
Conversely, a worm with a long curly tail will require a slightly heavier weight because the tail will get caught up on the vegetation as it falls. This is just a little something to keep in mind when selecting a bait and the weight you will need to use to make that bait effective.
So don’t let heavy cover scare you off. Find the right weight for the plastic you want to use and get into the thick stuff. That’s where you will find lots of bass this time of year.
Greg Bartz is a tournament bass fisherman based in Lakeland. Greg fishes lakes throughout Florida’s Heartland and enjoys RV travel around the Southeast with his wife and tournament partner, Missy. Contact him at Greg.Bartz@SummitHoldings.com.