Alternative Summer Medicine with Andy Morgan

Power Pole

7/6/2011 – by Steve Reed

The summer months are most notably known to most river anglers as ledge fishing season. Ledges can best be defined as the drop from the regular lake into the river channel. Recently we detailed Terry Scroggins’ approach to fishing ledges. When fishing offshore, Scroggins focuses on finding the sweet spot on the ledge and firing up the schools of bass using deep diving reaction baits.

This technique has become fairly common for most anglers once presented with conditions that are conducive to fishing deep water ledges, but each angler still maintains their personal philosophy on how to approach the fish.

Andy Morgan, not unlike other anglers, has his own take on ledge fishing; “it stinks.”

Andy Morgan, an FLW Tour Pro from Dayton, Tenn., is known to be a river rat. His first choice is always running deep into the river arms into ultra shallow water and thick cover; choosing to engage in hand to hand combat with his flipping stick as his weapon of choice. While he’d love to catch them that way every tournament, there are times he has to concede and look for a deeper bite. Morgan has had success fishing ledges, but in recent years he’s shied away from the community hole madness as he explains, “I used to love fishing ledges. It was a great way to catch a lot of bass and quickly too, but now everyone seems to bunch up on schools and fight over spots,” he said. “I’m just not a fan of fishing on top of other anglers; it’s almost like a merry go round out there.”

His desire to stay away from the crowds has allowed him to refine his favorite technique for summer bass – grass fishing. “I know that everyone can read a map, and everyone can remember where other anglers caught fish, but the grass beds are different,” Morgan opined. “The grass is always changing, every single year it changes and I like the challenge of seeking out the best spots and narrowing down the right presentation.”

The common misconception of anglers fishing grass is that they are always in the heaviest, most matted-up surface grass. Morgan has instead learned that the best grass is usually the hidden grass lines that lie just a bit deeper. “I really liken the two (grass and ledges) because they are both about finding what sets one spot apart from another. Not all ledges are the same and neither are all grass mats,” he continues, “I like to find the deeper undetectable grass and really fish it thoroughly.”

Morgan believes that there are very important structural elements that set some grass beds apart from others, “When you fish grass there are things like ditches, cuts, and even small barren patches that give these fish places to sit in. That is the little spot within a spot that produces fish and can load the boat quickly.”

Targeting grass isn’t limited to just the typical summer months from June to August; he has won several tournaments from May-October doing just this. Morgan seeks out grass at the tail end of the spawn. He believes that the previous spawning fish use the grass as their transition point when heading to deeper water. This philosophy has produced some of his best days of fishing due to the schooling nature of these fish.

Sometimes he even finds that these fish become comfortable in these locations and you can catch the same quality on those spots on numerous occasions. With years of practice under his belt, Morgan immediately eliminates water that is not part of the main lake near steeper banks. His focus is on four to eight feet of water but extends into approximately 12 feet at its deepest.

The important thing he has learned over the years is to follow the grass until it is completely gone. “I have found that the grass will grow much further than the visible stuff,” he said. “I will follow the grass line and look for points, depth changes, or sharp turns in the direction. Once you find those it’s time to fish it thoroughly because that’s where the big ones will be.”

The presentation Morgan uses is quite unique. Much like he would fish when upriver, he uses a stout rod, heavy braided line, and a big jig. “I fish an 8 foot G. Loomis rod and a Shimano Core reel spooled with 50 pound braided line, and on the end of that line is a ¾ to1oz War Eagle jig or a full sized Zoom Brush Hog with a ¾ oz tungsten weight,” he explained, “I like the longer rod to pick up extra line when setting the hook. The nature of the grass allows the fish to bury deep inside the cover and I need the extra length to make sure I hit them good and steer them straight to the boat.”

He realizes that his approach is possibly a little out of the norm nowadays when finesse tackle is the trend. Morgan simplifies his fishing style as “blind Flipping”. Although the tackle considerations mirror that of flipping, his time spent defining the grass he is fishing is a far stretch from its counterpart.

Morgan uses his GPS diligently for reference and backs that up with good old fashioned hard work and dedication to the thick vegetation. When deciphering the layout of the grass Morgan often spends hours just fishing to feel out each nook and cranny the locale offers, at the extreme he recalls spending seven hours on one spot that he believed set up perfectly for his upcoming tournament.
Understandably, he advises those who want to find fish in the deeper heavy grass to practice patience and to get back to actually fishing instead of running from spot to spot looking at the sonar.

Photo Credits
Top Photo by Brett Carlson / FLW Outdoors
Center Photo by Rob Newell / FLW Outdoors
Bottom Photo by Rob Newell / FLW Outdoors