Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Go for the Green

Go for the green.”

You probably associate this phrase with golf or business, but it
has a fishing meaning, too. It means you’re looking for late season
bass in the remaining green weeds. Let’s look at what it will take
to put some late fall bass into the boat before the ice
arrives.

This past weekend, I spent both days on the water. Lake turnover
is now completed in Minnesota. The lakes this past weekend showed
signs of turning back on for that final flurry of feeding activity
prior to winter. Green weeds will play a major factor in this.

Green weeds attract game fish during the late season because
they produce oxygen. As cold nights kill the shallower weeds, fish
may still hold there for feeding purposes, but they will not school
up and live in these weeds all the time.

You can still catch fish in the fall in shallow weeds. I have
taken many a bass in the shallows on spinnerbaits and jig-n-pig
presentations all the way until ice up. But the majority of the
bass in the fall are outside weedline-oriented. These bass school
up right after turnover and stay in these locations until after
ice-up. Then, they will make their winter move, and you will not
see them again until spring.

To work this pattern, target the bass with a two-punch system:
big crankbaits and jig-n-pig. When you head to your local bass
waters, bring a lake map. You will want to target areas containing
green weeds near deeper water areas. You can see some of these
areas with your map. They give bass a quick exit to deep water when
needed. One of the best places to start is main lake points. All
fish are suckers for main lake points, and bass are no different
this time of year. These are good starting spots anytime you hit
the water.

When you reach the point, look for deep green coontail on your
depth finder. How far out do the weeds extend, and where does the
outside weedline end? You must position your boat outside of this
point. Example, if the outside weedline extends to 12 feet, hold
and position your boat at about 15 feet.

There are two ways to fish your baits. First, just hit the edge
of the weeds. When you are fishing weeds to just make contact, hold
the boat in about 14 to 15 feet on a 12-foot weedline. Cast a
crankbait past the edge of the weedline. Adjust your cast
accordingly to make the presentation work.

If fishing a jig-n-pig, I’ll cast up onto the edge of the weeds
and work the bait down the outside weedline edge or the wall of the
weeds. When bass are inactive, they will sit at the base of the
weeds. When they are active and chasing food, they will be higher
on the edge of the weeds or roaming the outside edge.

In fall, fish the baits parallel to the outside weed edge. I
still position my boat outside of the weedline in about 13 to 14
feet of water. I need to stay closer to the weedline to reach it.
Making contact with weeds is key. If your bait is not making
contact with the weeds, you need to adjust. This seems to be one of
the triggering factors that makes the bass chase and take these
baits. It triggers the bass into thinking that something will
escape, and they just hit the bait more out of a reaction than out
of hunger.

Fishing the weedline with a parallel presentation allows you to
target weed clumps outside the weedline. These are critical to big
bass. This is one of the areas where big bass hold, and many times
these bass don’t see a bait until now.

To fish this two-punch system use two different set-ups. For my
jig-n-pig fishing I have found that 3/8- and 1/2-ounce jigs work
the best. Pick colors according to your favorite, but either
black/blue or pumpkin green usually work for me. I generally fish
these on a 7-foot, heavy action baitcaster rod teamed with a reel
spooled with either 12- or 14-pound test line. There is nothing
finesse here; you will have to pull bass out of the weeds so be
ready. As for the size of the jig, 1/2-ounce will suffice for all
conditions. Tip them with craws or pork frogs, neither has
outperformed the other.

As for crankbait set ups, I use two different rods. For the
first I will use a 7-foot-medium action graphite rod that has lots
of give. This rod has the characteristics of a glass rod but is
more sensitive, so when the bait gets caught on a weed I can rip
the bait free. I will spool the reel with 12-pound test line. This
will keep the bait up and has enough power that it will not break.
The other rod handle the bigger crankbaits. I spool this reel with
10-pound-test line to gain a few extra feet to get to those weed
clumps that sit in deeper water.

For crankbaits, try an assortment: Storms Mag Warts, Bill Norman
DD-22 and Yo Zuri Crank and Dive just scratch the surface of usable
crankbaits. The key when finding cranks for this pattern is to stay
big. Their wide wobble makes them very attractive for bass in late
season. Tighter wobble crankbaits do not catch as many late season
bass as these wider wobble baits will.

A few other notes: Take a few minutes to sharpen your hooks on
your crankbaits or change to pre-sharpened hooks. Bass often hit
the bait short, and with a sharp hook you’ll get that bass to the
boat.

Finally, practice catch and release. You will have a chance to
catch some of the biggest bass of the season and not only just one
or two but also numbers. Large bass are fragile to all of our water
systems. Put these trophies back.

You still have some of the best bass fishing of the season as
long as the weather holds. Grab some baits and “go for the green.”
You’ll know what I mean when you see how green weeds and bass go
together.

For more timely tips and tactics please turn to Petersen’s web
page at: www.fishinginsider.com

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