By Tim Huffman
Summer weed patterns vary from lake to lake. Some lakes will have no submerged weeds. These lakes are typically stained or muddy waters. However, clear water allows light penetration promoting weed growth so most clear water lakes, reservoirs and rivers have weeds.
Kyle Schoenherr pulls a crappie from the weeds after it took a minnow under a float.
Looking for Weeds
Cast out a bait with a hook and it’s not difficult finding weeds on lakes where they are present. However, they are usually visible and the use of today’s electronics makes them easy to find.Start by looking in typical weed locations. These include the backs of coves where you’ll find shallow water. Also check points, inlets and other shallow waters.
Electronics are key to learning and detailing the weeds. For example, your sonar might show a relatively clear bottom at 18 feet. Idle over a point. The point comes up to 8 feet where you cross it. You see weeds on bottom when you hit the 12 to 13 foot mark. They may only come up a foot or two off bottom. When you get to 10 feet the weeds come up four to six feet off the bottom. At 8 feet, on top of the point, the weeds are at or near the surface.
Taking time to search the weeds can reveal the best places to put your bait along with good fish to target.
On our trip, we did target and catch individual fish found on the locator.
The example reveals several important things. First, the point has weeds. Secondly, the most fishable portion of the weedline is around 10 feet where the weeds are up about half way in the water column. Of course you may find crappie in the shallower or deeper water depending upon conditions.
Another way to find these weeds is to use Side Imaging (the exact name depending upon which brand locator you own). By shooting out the side of the boat, you’ll get a good picture of the weeds, the position of the fish and a general idea how to best fish them. Using a side image unit allows you to see the structure and fish without going directly over them in the boat.
A trip with fishing guide and tournament fisherman, Kyle Schoenherr (618-314-2967), gave insight to fishing weeds. We were on Kinkaid Lake in Illinois.
Schoenherr says every tactic starts by using the right gear. His choices include a BnM BGJP 12-foot jigging pole. “The long pole has the advantage of allowing us to pitch to the edge of the weeds. Pitching with long poles have a big advantage over casting because you have better control of the bait but also for a better hook-up angle for setting the hook. A shorter rod with a float rig does not give a direct path to the hook.”
Schoenherr uses 15-pound test high-vis Power Pro Braid he uses so he doesn’t loose a big fish. The braid is strong but very small diameter. His float is an inexpensive, medium-large size slip float.
His electronics is a critical tool. “The weeds here come out to around 7 feet where see them on top. They continue under the water down to 11 or 12 feet. These outside weeds are the ones we’re fishing over and where the fish are holding. Depending upon the slope of the point, these fish might be 60 or 70 feet from shore in 11 feet of water where the weeds begin. You have to see it you your electronics. All electronics are good but I prefer Lowrance. Its down imaging is the best and that’s as important as sonar when looking at details.”
“I lip hook a minnow under a slip float. I use a larger float because I often use some heavier jigs, or, heavier egg sinker weight over a minnow. A 1/4- or 3/8-ounce weight under a float gives good control for pitching. I place the sinker close to the hook about 4-inches apart so the minnow doesn’t have room to swim around and get hung in the weeds.”
Schoenherr says fish will group in certain areas in the weeds. Points are good because the fish usually like them and they are easy for a fisherman to find.
Presenting baits often calls for the bait to be left in a spot for a while. It may take the fish a minute or two before they decide to hit it. A good strategy is to move along at a little faster pace but once you catch a fish slow down and work the area.
“The good thing about the fish in the weeds is that once you form a pattern they’ll stay in the pattern for a while. You can usually find them in the same places day after day. Early morning is usually the best time for fishing the weeds.”
>Season: Usually spring to early fall with summer being best.
>Water color: Critical with main lakes areas being the clearest water with the most weeds.
>Sun/rain: Difficult to predict but often the cloudy days are best.
>Fishing pressure: Depends upon the lake.