Summer time fishing in the millponds around Delaware and Eastern Shore of Maryland means one thing: Weeds! A place where you were nailing staging, pre-spawn bass on a suspending jerkbait with two treble hooks in the Spring becomes choked with weeds come mid-July. Hydrilla up growth, floating weed mats, Lily pads…you name it. The area millponds that we all fish, get full of plant growth and make fishing harder come Summer time. Some ponds get so bad that you have to just wait till next Spring to fish them again.
Now my fishing partner is my wife. She is not fond of fishing weedy ponds. She would rather throw an in-line spinner or a shallow running crankbait all day long in clear water. So due to the well-known rule: “if she isn’t happy; no one is happy rule”. We usually wind down the Freshwater season around July 1st and then just concentrate on saltwater fishing and crabbing.
Well, I wanted to try a pond that I have never fished before in late June this year, Unicorn Lake near Millington, MD. When we pulled up to the pond; there were floating weed mats along with some stands of lilypads. I told her that she will need to adjust as it was obvious that a treble-hooked lure was not going to be possible in most of the pond. Now the pond was not completely choked and had a good amount of open surface water. To me the pond looked like bass heaven, to my wife, she saw nothing but weeds. So I had to convince her that you can catch bass on weedy ponds.
The key is to treat the floating weed mats as your friend. They are revealing the spots where the bass are. Bass use them for shade and as ambush spots. Treat them as extra shoreline. Just throw weightless Texas-rigged plastics like Big Bite Coontail worms or Senkos along the edges or twitch them off the mats and let them fall. I fish them weightless to get a slower fall so the worm stays in the strike zone longer and also because the weights can get caught up with weeds too much. If you see an opening in the weeds; pitch the worm in there. These bass under these weed mats are feeding on fry and dragonflies. When your worm hits the water; the bass are going to investigate the water disturbance and when they see that slow falling worm…bam! My wife’s first cast of the day as we drifted from the ramp was to the edge of a weed mat. And before the worm sunk eight inches; a keeper-sized bass nailed it and she landed the first bass of the day. We caught a lot bass that day using this technique; including an ugly split-tail twenty inch Bass that was over four pounds.
Too many of us bass fisherman; weeds and pads mean frog-fishing; which means exciting blowups on topwater. Unfortunately, this can also mean missed hooksets and frustration. A technique that can lead to a better hook up ratio for topwater fishing around weeds and pads that I use is fishing floating plastics, specifically, the Z-Man Trout Trick worm. Z-Man’s ElaZtech plastic baits float. Now they are designed mainly for Carolina-rigging or for a jig-head. And their buoyancy works great on these setups. But if you Texas-rig them weightless with 2/0 offset worm hook; they become topwater lures that you can walk the dog with. So essentially they are a weedless spook bait that I think they has more action than a plain hollow frog and trigger more hits in my experiences.
We threw these baits all around the weeds and pads at Unicorn Lake and had a bunch of hits and caught some nice bass and pickerel on the Trout Trick worms (the “Trout” is for Speckled Trout) including a nice seventeen inch Largemouth that exploded on it and big bass that threw the hook on my wife during a jump (she was a little slow on the hookset as the topwater hit startled her). Now since it really is just a Texas-rigged worm, after a Bass hits, you just drop the rod tip set the hook as if it’s a Senko or any other worm. I think this Texas-rig set up is a little more efficient in hook-ups than the standard frog bait. While Spring time fishing can be more productive and allows more techniques; fishing millponds after the weeds have taken over can still be fun.