I'm a self-proclaimed grass fishing freak!
I love implementing power-fishing techniques to find big bass in vegetation, so it is no surprise that I was very excited about fishing the most recent, and final, Bassmaster Open on the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana.
In essence, the Basin is a massive labyrinth of hundreds of miles of rivers, marshes, canals, bayou's and bays filled with lush aquatic vegetation and lined with jungle-like cypress tree forests.
After a week of eliminating miles of Louisiana marshland I was able to find some productive patterns that lead to a 29th place finish in the third Central Open of the year.
Eel grass, hydrilla and coontail (oh my!)
I decided on focusing my abbreviated practice period in a well known area called Bayou Black, which is known to have a variety of grass.
In any lake or waterway that has an abundance of grass the number one goal is to figure out what type of grass the fish are holding on, and then figure out what areas have the best qualities that enhance that type of grass.
In this instance, Bayou Black had three primary types of submergent grass- hydrilla, coontail and eel grass- and also had some emergent vegetation- hyacinth, reeds an pads.
I quickly found out that the submergent vegetation was the key to getting the majority of bites, but I also realized that the healthy eel grass was the key player, and the bass were all over it. I would catch an occasional bass off of the other grasses, but eel grass was producing 10 to 1.
I was catching all of my fish rotating between a swim jig and a 3/8oz Z-man Project Z Chatterbait (in chartreuse sexy shad). The Project Z is by far the best Chatterbait for grass fishing, due to it's very aggressive vibration that keeps the blade free of grass during the retrieve. It was also very important because the Project Z tends to want to pull up to the surface, so it is a much better shallow water Chatterbait, and in this instance I was trying to keep the bait right about the shallow grass while maintaining a slower retrieve.
Flippin' On The Fly
By the second day of the event, my eel grass pattern was starting to die, and I knew that it was going to be a losing battle, so I abandoned my beloved Chatterbait and my grass flats and ran to the back of a dead-end canal where there was a few shad starting their fall migration to the backs of some of these canals.
In the canal there was plenty of beautiful hyacinth mats and it was lined by reeds on both sides. I had two flipping rods rigged up- one with a 1-ounce punching rig and the other with a 3/8-ounce flipping rig using a variety of craw-style baits and the Boar HogZ.
In here I was able to catch the majority of my second day limit, as well a my 4-pound kicker on the first day.
Overall it was a good event for me, and I made some very good decisions on a fishery that very easily to illicit indecisiveness.
My advice to anyone fishing a lake with a variety of grass-like the Atchafalaya Basin- is to cover lots of water with reaction baits and try to figure out what type of grass the fish and the baitfish are relating to.
I can't wait to go back and fish the Basin again!