Youth Corner–Flipping Heavy Cover

Bucks Falcon Mercury

story and photos courtesy PJ Pahygiannis

Editor’s Note – PJ Pahygiannis is a 16-year-old bass fishing fanatic from Maryland. He contacted Advanced Angler and asked if he could share some of the lessons he has learned to help make him a better bass angler with other young men and women who want to fish too.

Here is his first Youth Corner entry, Flipping Heavy Cover.

You’re a Die-hard bass addict and you desperately need a kicker to just possibly win the biggest tournament of your life, and what do you do? You go engage head to head in combat with the bass in the thickest slimy grass bed you can find. You go Flipping for a chance for a monster kicker bass that will give you the absolute biggest win of your life and even more.

In the months after the bass finish spawning in states such as Maryland and the grass starts springing up where the bass previously spawned, In the months after the spawn the air is heavy and humid many bass are burying directly into thick vegetation along with other types of cover such as wood or other man made cover to beat the heat and the glaring sun. As the water temperature steadily increases from the intense sunlight and heat that the Mid Atlantic is known best for, aquatic plants such as duckweed and milfoil along with other plant species such as pond weed and elodea become denser and greener as the water’s surface temperature gets warmer.

This is especially true when you’re fishing at a body of water known for its shallow water flats where the grass will mat on the surface more quickly, as they grow lush up on the surface; this attracts pretty much any species of bass, along with both bluegill, because of the much cooler, darker water under the grass. The heavy cover blocks that hot sun and provides a place for bass for bass to feed on post spawn bluegill and bluegill fry. Many bass or even schools of bass will gather and bunch up under this dense, sometimes windblown surface-matted vegetation along the bank and you can present your lure to them in a variety of ways.

The Best Grass Beds
You can locate the better grass beds and eliminate the bad ones with a variety of tactics, one of them being Flipping or Punching lures: or should I say dropping bombs in the grass using heavy tungsten or lead weights to punch through the cover with lures such as the Teacha worms Gecko or the Teacha worms K-Craw. You can also Flip or Pitch this set up into any visible holes – no matter what the size – in the cover or the actual submerged grass line made up of different grasses, that you can see starting to grow up and off the silt bottom below the water’s surface. Usually, it’s been my experience that you will find a larger bass and a few smaller bass in each duckweed bed.

A good grass bed will often have multiple baitfish of all sizes in and around the grass bed, such as bluegill or bass fry that have just hatched from the previous spawn. Those baitfish will surface towards the top; around and inside the grass line, sometimes you can’t even see them through the holes in the elodea, but you can also hear a small constant popping noise from schools of bluegill under the grass clumps; this is usually a good sign that it will hold bass.

An example of this is when you have an overhanging bush or tree that has roots extend into the water that are covered with grass that mats up on top of the roots where the bass can sit in during times like the post spawn period . When available, I like to flip soft plastics and Jigs under overhanging bushes and trees and let them jiggle. Usually a bass will take my jig or soft plastic as it falls or once it lands on the bottom and will run with it out of the vegetation, tree, or bush.

Sometimes bass prefer one type of vegetation, for example sometimes a bass will prefer duckweed patches that are mixed in with surface algae. To get a bite in this kind of cover, you must present your jig or soft plastic lure only in the duckweed patches.

Attacking the Grass
To “test” a grass bed for bass I like to punch the vegetation with a Strike King Hack Attack jig, choosing the weight depending on how thick the cover is and how matted it is on the surface. When using the Hack Attack, I will add a trailer such as the Teacha Brush Bug or Teacha 6.25 inch K-Craw. If you want to add more bulk to your jig when flipping heavy cover try adding a Teacha Lizard Teacha Big Hossby threading it onto the hook of your jig, but if you want a more finesse approach to flipping you can try smaller, more compact, small profile soft plastics or jigs.

I have found that if I am Flipping a bait like a Teacha 3” tube in the grass on the edges of the pond or lake and they aren’t eating it good enough or are just not paying attention to it then I will go ahead and place a Small, glass worm rattle far up in the tube and then I will shake it in the grass. When punching through heavy vegetation with soft plastic lures, I would recommend using tungsten weights all the way up to 1.5 ounces.

After Punching through the cover; I’ll jig it up and down vertically, or shake and hop it to on the bottom to draw the strike. My setup for fishing cover with Teacha worms is heavy line with a Medium heavy fast tip 7’6 Bass pro shops Fast action Graphite Flippin’ Stick with a 7.1:1 gear ratio bait caster with fluorocarbon line up to 25 pound test, or Green spiderwire braid up to 65 pounds.

When you feel a bite, make sure you are prepared for the fish to run; set the hook and bring him up out of the vegetation immediately, this is one of the many reasons a tightened, rock solid drag is critical. I’ve had it where I will set the hook on a good fish and have him spit it after running with it for literally a 1-2-3 count.

Another technique I have come to love and I still use to this day is if the bass want a certain fall and the weight I’m using with my lure to achieve that fall isn’t getting through the grass or is getting hung in the grass I will then make a cast that goes straight up into the air with a lot of force so it will get through the grass more quickly by blowing the grass bed apart with the force of both the bait and the weight, but I usually only have to use this technique when fishing pond algae that has crusted on the surface along the bank.

A good time to target bushes and sunken trees with weighted soft plastics or jigs is during the post spawn. In the event of a cold front coming through I will down size both the weight and the size of the lure I’m fishing with. For example, if I was fishing a 5 inch Teacha K-craw before the cold front then I would down size to a 3 inch K-Craw in the same color. Another thing I try when all else fails is flipping my lure directly up to the bank with the duckweed or algae. When I first get to the lake or pond I first start out at the shady corners of the pond, especially by overhanging trees that have grass growing under or beside them

Ready to Strike
While working the bait I like to keep my rod pointing down towards my lure and the cover and shake it steadily in the cover for a few seconds. When you feel a bite, wait less than a second and then set the hook hard with your rod in a vertical position over the cover. With the Right conditions, these techniques can pay off with some big bags of bass come tournament time or your next outing.

Learning to fish cover and thick vegetation can be a very rewarding skill and can produce big fish, but when you hit that “magical” grass bed it can be loads of fun. Sometimes, it may take a few times to find that perfect patch of vegetation, or sometimes you’ll get strikes on your first flip into the grass patch, but when you do it will pay big dividends and most importantly BIG BASS.