When you aren't finding fish in their traditional summer haunts, one of the places the big ones often are is where most anglers never expect...extremely shallow. I’m talking anywhere from 8 inches to 2 feet of water. You have to get in after them and you throw something heavy enough to penetrate their cover. Slop, cutbanks, bogs, trees, lillypads, cattails are all great options for shallow summer bass.
In a recent event, the bite was extremely difficult. Smallmouth were not being cooperative so many anglers changed tactics to target the largemouth in the system. There were fish being caught in extremely shallow Lillypads near traditional spawning bays, but I was the third to arrive in two key spot areas. Both other boats looked to be hunkering in for the long haul so I had to make an adjustment.
I looked for an area very similar as described above where I believed not many other boats would be targeting. What I found was a small channel of water that was about 1.5 foot deep running along a bank into a back slop bay. The bay itself was only a foot deep, so this trough served as a highway of sorts for largemouth moving from the back of the slop to the main lake. I was able to boat two quality fish in the few hours I had left to finish. There was only one other boat working this water along with me and they finished in the top 5.
Here's how I yank largemouths out of the swamp and into the boat:
When fishing shallow cover, look for open spots in the surface cover, little pockets in the cutbanks and bogs or holes in the rice, reeds, and rushes. With short casts, flip the bait into the targeted area and let it fall to the bottom. If there is not strike, lift and shake the bait in place for a few seconds and drop it back down. Wait a couple of seconds and if no bite, reel in and pick the next target hole, pocket or indent. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. You may make numerous flips before getting a bite, but when you do get a bit, hold on. Some of the hardest strikes occur in this ultra shallow approach and you want to be sure to have the right gear to tear them out of their cover.
My Set Up
7'3 Kistler Helium 3 X-Heavy Fast
Shimano Chronarch 200E7 (7:1 Gear Ratio)
20 lb. Suffix 100& Fluorocarbon
Heavy Cover Jigs and Punch Rigs
1 oz. Outcast Tackle R.T.X. Double Weedguard Jig
3/4 oz. All Terrain A.T. Rattling Jig
1 & 1.25 oz. Strike King "Hack Attack" Jig
Paycheck Punch Stop
CJ's Custom Rattling Punch Skirts
Paycheck Punch Skirts
VMC 4/0 Wide Gap Hook
Strike King Rage Chunks (Jigs)
Strike King Rage Tails (Punch)
Berkley Chigger Craw (Punch)
Lake Fork "Hawg Wild" Garlic Spray
So when you can’t find them where you normally would, grab your heavy gear, stop on the Minn-Kota Fortrex and start crawling into the soup.