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Locating Bass in Grass
by North Alabama Guide Troy Jens

Bass can always be found in grass. Grass is one of the most beneficial types of cover for bass. Grass is not only a perfect addition to the cover bass utilize, it is also a great source of shade, oxygen and food supply as well. Much of the food supply for bass lives, breeds and thrives in grass cover and bass can always be found in the grass.

The most difficult part of fishing in grass cover is when there are many acres of green on a body of water. This can make grass fishing an almost “needle in a haystack” type of search. While bass can and will live anywhere in a grass bed there are certain things that concentrate “catchable” fish in specific locations. The search for concentrations of fish in large, grassy lakes became easier for me when I began to understand grass as an addition to cover rather than a source of primary cover. It’s my opinion that bass tend to relate best to forms of cover and structure that are permanent. Stumps, humps, lay-downs, points, rocks, etc., are always good permanent cover/structure areas to locate fish. When you add grass to those types of cover however, they become great areas to locate fish. A small row of stumps or a shallow point for instance that is void of grass may hold few bass or no bass at all. Add a little grass and seemingly insignificant permanent cover or structure can become a bass magnet. I always find that the most productive grass areas will also contain other permanent cover or structure features.

The grass dies back in my area during the wintertime. This is the perfect time to locate productive areas for grass fish. When you can see stumps, brush, rocks or other forms of cover that are normally covered up with grass during the warmer months you will have a head start on locating specific areas that may be more productive. I spend a lot of time looking in shallow water during the winter for any variations in cover or structure. Winter is also a great time to place homemade cover to hold fish when the grass grows back. Many of my best fishing locations in grass have been discovered in the dead of winter when all of the grass has disappeared. Also, many times in the winter or early spring when the grass is gone, I can catch fish on stumps or other cover in an area. Then, when the grass grows back in the warmer months I can often go to those same areas and catch good fish!

Structure is another key element in locating concentrations of grass fish. Break-lines where grass is growing in a river-bend, a point or a hump will be more productive than places without irregular features. Break-lines in front of shallow spawning bays can also be very productive for concentrations of fish when the grass starts to grow back in the spring. Grassy areas near steep drops or creek channels will usually be good areas to look for active fish. The more types of cover and structure in an area along with the grass the better.

Paying attention to how and where grass grows often gives vital details about the structure of a lake. A grass patch in the middle of nowhere for instance could be just a loose mat or it could be growing on a hump loaded with bass. Changes in grass contour can often indicate the type of drop on a shoreline. Changes in grass color after it has topped out can give way to locations of springs or different types of bottoms. Searching for these variations has greatly improved my ability to locate productive areas in grass-filled lakes and rivers. Often, even subtle changes can be the key.

In lakes that have little cover other than grass, locaing bass is difficult at times. Dishpan type lakes that are covered with grass may seem overwhelming. Locating changes in grass types however has helped me many times. Finding small areas that have several different types of grass will often concentrate bass. For instance, a few pads growing in the midst of a large patch of maiden cane can be a clue to a productive area. Reeds growing amidst coon-tail or, patches of milfoil in a hydrilla bed would be good examples. Boat runs, bird nests, gator mounds, muskrat huts and anything that causes a variation in the grass are good areas to look for. Schools of bait fish wandering around in open grass can often be given away by birds in the area and, often times bass will be nearby. Any change in bottom integrity will also be more productive. Once a pattern is established it can usually be reproduced in shallow, grassy lakes.

In river systems, grass is vital to the quality of bass populations. Hydrilla and milfoil for instance not only provide shade, food and oxygen but also provide a great current break in many locations allowing bass to seek refuge from the water flow. Grass creates changes in the current flow and can concentrate bass in areas that otherwise would not hold fish. The backsides of large grass mats often create eddies that concentrate bait fish and are sometimes bonanzas for bass. When bass are active I have found them on the front side of a grass mat facing the flow and feeding on bait fish washed into the grass bed. Grass also allows ample room for bass to reproduce and live - especially on large flats where there would otherwise be no shelter from river current or predators. Isolated stands of hydrilla for instance growing on a large flat provide great cover for catchable fish especially, on either side of a deep creek channel.

I don’t waste much time fishing an area when trying to establish a pattern for bass. Once I’ve located an area in the grass that I feel is going to be productive it usually takes only a few throws to see if it is going to produce. I normally start by making a few long casts with a top-water bait over shallow grass. A Rat-L-Trap or spinnerbait tells the story over deeper grass. Then, I’ll move up closer and pitch a large jig or worm. I try to keep adjusting until I come up with a combination that repeats itself on several fish. Once that combination is found it normally gives way to a solid grass pattern. If I discover a pattern that is only producing smaller fish I’ll keep adjusting till I come up with a better big fish pattern. Often in grass situations big fish and smaller fish are on different patterns.

Concentrating on locating a pattern that includes specific types of cover or changes in the grass saves hours and hours of endless chunking and winding over acres of non-productive vegetation. Large, grassy lakes and rivers are not so intimidating once you’ve learned to isolate catchable fish. The only scary part is knowing you may get your arm broke by the bass of a lifetime. Good luck and put them back.

Author Information.

Troy Jens is a full time professional fishing guide as well as an accomplished tournament angler.  Troy's beeen fishing since his Dad first took him at three years old. Sharing the knowledge he's learned since then remains his one true passion. He most recently appeared in Bassmaster Magazine in the July/August 1999 issue and January 2000 issue.  On the web, Troy is a regular contributor at the Bass Fishing Home Page.

With over 10 years of guiding experience on many various waters, Troy is versitle and committed.  Troy spends over 250 days a year on the water and specializes in tournament tactics, big fish, and grass pattern techniques.  He guides on a variety of lakes in North Alabama and spends most of his time on Guntersville, Wheeler, and Neely Henry.  Troy is experienced in guiding beginners through full time pros and works hard to help others improve their fishing skills.  He continues to share fishing knowledge through guiding, published articles and published fishing reports.

Give Troy a call: 256-534-4359
Visit Troy on the web at
Email Troy at

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