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Plowing the Grass Prairies at Night

By Russ Bassdozer

I'm looking for a midnight snack. Toss me a Jitterbug!This article begins by talking about buzzbaits in grass at night, which is MOST deadly! Everything it says about buzzbaits applies equally to spinnerbaits in grass at night, just that it's harder to "steer" spinnerbaits at night - because of loss of eye contact with the bait. You do not lose eye contact with buzzbaits at night! So if you desire to use the following techniques, learn them first with the buzzbait, then master them last with the spinnerbait!


The night's abuzz! In summer, many sections of lakes and ponds may get completely topped off with weeds. If you are lucky enough to find sections that have 6 to 12 inches of clean water over the tops of weedbeds, they can be effectively fished with a number of lures at night, including a Jitterbug, a buzzbait and a spinnerbait. Many times however, there is often a lot of floating and stringy stuff that makes it difficult to use the Jitterbug or spinnerbait without fouling in that junk. Maybe you can handle this by day, but it is pretty difficult in the darkness.

Bulldoze a buzzbait. But, you can bulldoze a buzzbait through this surface stuff! They are fairly weedless with their protective wire arms and upright single hooks. It all starts with the cast. You must concentrate on your hand-eye coordination. You need to anticipate the buzzbait flight trajectory as best you can at night. Think baseball - don't cast like Willie Mays putting a pop homer over the fences, instead make a powerful line drive to short center. You need to engage your reel and begin turning the reel handle when the buzz is decelerating and arcing through the last few feet of air before it hits the water. Done, properly, your lure should not whiplash back or anything, What should happen is the buzz splashes down, and if you engaged the reel right, the buzz will be gurgling instantly and moving towards you. If you don't do this, your buzzbait will sink, even if only for a second, and get glopped in the weeds. Just don't stop turning the reel handle. You've got to keep 'em coming and plow them steadily through prairies of grass as if they were miniature bulldozers. Every so often, you may lose the chatter as the buzz blade picks up weeds. Firmly rip the rod tip to try to shed this stuff when you detect it, but never pause the retrieve - just keep it coming even when you rip it. If you keep this aggressive bulldozing approach, the buzzbait will make it pretty far across the surface before its fish-calling chatter can be silenced by the soft green smother. Every time you get it back to the boat, you must remove any trace of green fuzz that may have nestled itself between the blade's butt and the rivet. Not fun to do, is it? For weeds, I do not like to use any plastic or metal beads on the arm in front of the buzz blade. It keeps turing more freely and it's easier to de-weed this way.

Beating roadblocks. If you keep up this buzzin', bulldozin' approach, you'll be plowing a fish-calling path through this stuff. But, you'll be faced with many thick, floating patches that seem certain to stop your progress. Fear not! First, you have a good chance to get a strike as your buzz comes close to such patches. Second, you can jump the buzzbait right over such roadblocks. Just start lowering your rod tip and wind the line so it is nice and tight. When the buzz is 6-12 inches away from crashing into the roadblock, then reel quickly and control-swing the rod tip up so that the buzz jumps up and over the weedy patch without fouling. As with all fishing tactics, practice makes perfect.

Spots in the grass. You'll have bass blasting you whenever your buzzbait approaches any heavier than usual growth, weed ridges or clumps. Also, look for weed bowls, which are slight depressions in the tops of the weeds that provide fishable bowls of water within the weedy expanses. Cast up onto the far side of the weed bowl, engage your reel and start cranking the handle before the buzzbait even hits the water. If you don't, your buzzbait will bury right into the weed canopy, and you are wasting your time. But if you did it right, your bait will land a few feet back into the weed canopy, and you just burn it over the weed rim, into the slightly deeper bowl. Expect to have a bass slam your buzzbait as it clears the weed rim. If not, expect to get hit again just as the buzzbait reaches the near side of the bowl's perimeter. Just an instant before the buzzbait plows head-first into the thick rim, expect a bass to trounce it! Of course, points and cuts along the weed bed edges are obvious spots too.


All of the above applies equally well to spinnerbaits. All the night grass tactics for a buzzbait apply equally well to spinnerbaits in grass. But it requires an extra level of night fishing expertise to keep them as weedless as a buzzbait in these kinds of grassy conditions. The spinnerbaits are harder to use in heavy grass at night because you obviously can't track them by eyesight as easily. Nevertheless, here are some additional tips I hope you can use for night fishing in grass with spinnerbaits.

What lead head shape? Try the classic bullet nose spinnerbait at night. It has a streamlined, pointy nose that makes it one of the best head shapes for fishing WEEDS.

What blade for grass? You will often hear people recite a theory about the Willow being a better grass blade because it is more streamlined and therefore more weedless. Quite honestly though, no matter what blade I tie on for grass, they all get mummified in green, including Willows. Try this at home. Overlay a size 5 Colorado on top of a size 5 Willow. Now do you really see that much difference in the pointy end that catches the grass? Do you think a few millimeters more or less will matter to that choking grass? I don't think so. There is also a second theory that a Colorado emits a stronger vibration that attracts bass better in areas of poor visibility, such as thick grass. Most people also say that a single Colorado blade is better at night, especially one called a Deep Cup Colorado blade that has a cupped edge on the blade. The thing about the single Colorado is that it thumps - and you can fish it slower which is better at night. But especially in hot water, I have also caught plenty of night bass on single Willows and many varied tandem blade combos. You decide.

What colors? Again, common talk is to use black skirts at night, but I have caught many bass at night on white skirts too. This has nothing to do with whether it is a full moon (bright) or new moon (dark) either. So try them both. There is no rhyme or reason that I could ever figure out. If they're hitting white, then that's right. If they're hitting black, then stick with that. When they like black, try dark purple or purple/black, they may like THAT even better!

Bulky Bodies. At night, sometimes it can be good to bulk up and slow down a night spinnerbait (or buzzbait) with a pork frog. Try it sometime. I often achieve the same effect (bulk, slowness) by taking OFF the rubber skirt entirely, and supergluing a big fat solid white or black double tail Hula Grub in place of the skirt. The bulky body and double-twisty legs can add to the deal at night.

What about wire arm length? Most of the spinnerbait arms that you will see are pretty long. In grass at night try the following. When no one is looking, take a pair of needlenose pliers to a single blade long arm bait. Bend the long arm straight down about an inch or more from the tip so that the blade now sits on a bent piece of wire behind the "regular" part of the arm. You've accomplished two things: 1) you've effectively made the wire arm an inch (or more) shorter, thereby making a more compact lure that snakes through grass better, and 2) more importantly, the "regular" part of the arm will now protect and deflect weeds up and over the blade and the swivel. You may also want to fold back the eye loop so that the swivel hangs a bit better too.  I think you'll get the "hang" of it, okay? The modifed arm also works during the daytime in grass too, but helps best at night when you totally lose the "eye-to-lure" contact that helps so much spinnerbaiting in grass by day. Just try this modification - and keep it quiet. It's our little secret of the night.

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