Finding Bass in a Sea of Green

Lakes loaded with vegetation seemingly look “fishy” shore-to-shore. In other words, everywhere looks like an appealing place to cast! However, a much different reality exists; bass will only occupy a very small percentage of the vast acreages of vegetation.

Jim Moynagh (Photo courtesy of FLW Outdoors)
Jim Moynagh (Photo courtesy of FLW Outdoors)

And when I experience a lake like this for the first time, it can be a bit puzzling and overbearing. On large lakes (Lake Okeechobee in Florida, for example), it would take days and days to cover it all. So to improve your catch, try to keep these six guidelines in mind when trying to find productive spots in a sea of green:

1) Green Vegetation Good, Brown Bad

Bass and their prey are drawn to healthy stands of vegetation more so than dying or decaying stands. I’ve heard this ever since I can remember, and it’s true. When a widespread area of vegetation goes “sour,” I expect it to be void of bass. It’s OK to have a few dead plants here and there, but just consider the health of the entire area. And don’t worry about dead, floating weeds matted on the surface. As long as they are blown into a healthy stand of weeds, then those dead mats can actually be magnets as they offer overhead cover. When the whole lake has dying weeds, then look to other cover types (rock and wood) to draw the bass.

2) Thick Vegetation Can Draw In Bass

The thickest stands of vegetation often draw more bass. This can be especially true in lakes that have meager or sparse vegetation. I’ve seen this many, many times where I’ll find a small, little area of denser weeds amid a vast acreage of weeds and it will hold all the bass. This is typical of lakes of moderate to low fertility. Or sometimes early in the year on a fertile lake.

3) Fish The Edges

By this I mean the transition from weedbed to open water or what is often called the “weedline.” Bass often use the edges to travel, whether it’s the deep outside edge or a shallow inside edge. Active, roaming bass will often position along the “open water” part of the edge. On the other hand, less active bass prefer to bury up in the heavier weeds that are located just in from the edge. Depth and contour irregularities along the weedline will often draw a concentration of bass as compared to simply a straight, featureless edge.

4) Bottom Content: Hard Is Good

Bass everywhere like “hard bottoms,” meaning rock, gravel and sand. The trick is to find hard bottoms buried within the weedbeds or along their edges. Fishing electronics send signals indicating bottom hardness so a decent unit will help immensely in finding hard bottoms hidden amid weedbeds. These types of places buried along the weeds often attract multiple fish.

5) Know Types Of Weeds

Sometimes bass will key on a certain species of weeds even though a wide variety is available. Be aware of this possibility and make a mental note of the weed type with each bass that is caught. Also note that certain weeds can tip you off as to bottom composition. For instance, cane usually grows in coarse, gravelly-sandy bottoms, whereas lily pads usually are associated with softer substrate.

6) Remember Seasonal Movement

By this I mean to simply take into account the seasonal movement of bass. During the spawn, for example, shallow weeds are going to be more important than deep weeds. Whereas in the heat of summer, deeper weeds often hold better concentrations of quality bass.

I may make it all seem so simple, but it can be rather time-consuming and frustrating at times, trying to find the “needle in the haystack.” But don’t lose sight of what I’ve written here, because in the end when you do find “the needle,” the bass will likely be abiding by some of the guidelines I’ve listed here.

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Jim Moynagh writes a twice-monthly bass fishing column on Visit Jim on Facebook.

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One Response to “Finding Bass in a Sea of Green”

  1. Dennis Hrapeck

    Very good article, especially the pat about the harder bottoms. Bass will hang out over Sandy or Rocky soil instead of mud when given the chance.