Bass have nearly completed their annual ritual of spawning, the season is open, and they are ready to feed. Anglers can often head out on the lake and have an action packed day of bass fishing, but often struggle finding large fish. This may suit many anglers, but if you are like me, you want to find the big ones! In order to catch numbers of big post-spawn fish, the proper location and presentation is essential. There are several patterns that will produce big fish this time of the year, but an extremely effective and consistent pattern for big post-spawn bass is undoubtedly inside weed lines
An inside weed line is exactly what it sounds like; it’s the edge of the weeds facing the shore. Inside weed lines come in many shapes and sizes, some being in less than one foot of water, and others as deep as several feet. The type of vegetation that creates the inside weed line can vary as well, but both factors contribute to how productive the area will be. The better defined and deeper the weed line is, the more productive it will be. An inside weed line may be well defined, and then taper to scattered weeds, which is traditionally a less effective area until it becomes better defined. Bass will roam the open expanses inside the edge during low-light conditions and then tuck into the edge of the weeds during higher light conditions. Bass are predators, always awaiting their next meal and by sitting on the edge of an inside weed line; they are in a prime position to ambush prey. They are awaiting a cruising fish, a wandering crayfish, or anything that appeals to them.
The type of vegetation that creates the weed line is something worth paying attention to, as bass will prefer weed lines created by Cabbage, Milfoil, or Coontail. However, bass are adaptable and will take what they can get, which is often times Crispus. Crispus is a narrow leafed species of vegetation that begins growing under the ice and typically dies as Cabbage, Milfoil, and Coontail begin taking over. Crispus is often the original creator of inside weed lines in the Midwest and if it’s the predominant weed in the lake at this time, bass will use it.
Inside weed lines are fish factories for all species, including bedding bluegills. A colony of bedding bluegills on an inside weed line is often a “sweet spot,” attracting big bass no matter where you are fishing. Bluegills are prime forage for big bass, and bedding bluegills are extremely stationary, making these colonies a big bass buffet. Bass will roam the edges in and amongst these colonies and periodically ambush the bluegills. Bluegill spawning colonies are easy to spot from a distance, which is beneficial to anglers because you want to approach them with a stealthy presentation. It is essential to fish them from a distance and make long casts with subtle baits, such as weightless stick type bait. If you can see a bass and it’s facing you, you are most likely too close and your odds of catching it dwindle. If this occurs, simply continue fishing, make a mental note of where the fish was, and come back later to get her on the end of your line!
There are various lures that will catch bass on inside weed lines, but finding the perfect bait takes some experimenting and also can change throughout the day. During low-light conditions they are apt to chase baits, making horizontal lures more effective. These include topwater lures, jerkbaits, shallow diving crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, and one of my favorites, swimbaits. My favorite baits for this situation include a 1/4oz Strike King Red Eye Shad, a walk-the-dog style topwater, and a 4 or 5” hollow belly swimbait on a weighted 4/0 or 5/0 Falcon hook. As the sun becomes higher in the sky and the fish tuck into the edges of the weeds they will occasionally strike these presentations, but a subtle approach will be more effective. A few baits to try for this would be weightless stick type bait, either texas or wacky rigged, a texas rigged plastic, jig and craw, or a drop shot rig. A few of my favorites for this situation include a 5” Yum Dinger, a Lake Fork Crawtube, Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver, and a 4” Berkley Gulp Minnow for the drop shot. With high skies I begin throwing lighter colored baits, such as green pumpkin or watermelon, and darker colors, such as junebug or black/blue during low-light periods.
When fishing an inside weed line be sure to be observant of any structure, and certainly cast to it. Examples of this may be a log in the water, isolated patches of weeds, a point or inside turn, a dock, rock, or depression in the bottom. These are high percentage locations for big bass to sit, but when these aren’t around, be sure to methodically fish the inside edge of the weeds. By targeting defined, deeper, and structure laden inside weed lines, an angler can increase their odds of catching more and larger fish.