Pulling Bass, Not Weeds

By Bill Schaefer

SAN DIEGO—It’s a new year in more ways than one, and bass anglers will most likely find fish up in the shoreline weeds that grew during the drought. A couple of winter storms had already dumped some good rain, and more should be on the way well into 2015. With lakes rising, brush will be in the water at most, and even if it’s only a few feet deep, the bass will head into the cover.
Baitfish will hide and feed along the shore, and the bass will follow their food. Brush can be a little hard on tackle and line. You should

Kelly Salmons with a fresh-caught fish in his boat.
Kelly Salmons admires a bass he pulled from newly flooded shoreline brush. Anglers who upsize their rods, reels and line can hook up with some big fish in the thick stuff. (BILL SCHAEFER)

keep this in mind when readying your equipment for this season.
Make sure you go through your reels; lube them up, check the drags and change the drag washers, if necessary. You may need to go with some new line; one idea is to maybe put some strong braid on a reel or two. If you are attacking brush, you’ll want a strong abrasion-resistant line; Maxima and other lines tout this.
Again, a super line or braided line is also a good bet when around brush. Sometimes the braid will just cut right through the fresh green brush when horsing that big one out.
Different shoreline cover can dictate the use of different lures. New tule growth can be attacked with a spinnerbait. Throw it as far back into the new tule cover as possible. Retrieving back through them, bouncing back and forth and off the young growth, will draw strikes. It’s a fun way to fish.
Spinnerbaits can also be run through small bushes. Don’t be afraid to go right through the middle of them. Matted weeds or brush might be attacked with a frog. And, of course, you can always throw a jig or worm in the middle of that mess. Yes, there is a bass in there; all they need is an inch of water over their back.
You might want to go with a little heavier rod and reel for this application. Maybe break out that flippin’ stick that has been collecting dust while all the tules have been 20 feet up on the shore. And as I suggested, go up in line size as well. The rains will have created a lot of brush to fish and you need to be prepared.
When the water rises, bass head into the shoreline cover. They build a new home there and they eat, sleep, and raise their family there. Don’t hesitate to invite yourself in. Don’t be afraid to throw that bait right into the fish’s living room window and wake him up. The battle, once you hook him and the excitement of the fight, will make you forget about the couple lures you might lose. CS