(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)
Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Garrett Paquette may call Lake St. Clair his home waters, but he also has lots of experience flipping milfoil and considers it one of his wheelhouse techniques.
“On a lot of the smaller inland lakes, our tournaments are won by flipping grass,” he said. That usually means the summer, not the pre-spawn or spawning periods, because that’s when the grass grows tall, he explained. It’s especially good when the bass are holding in 4 to 10 feet of water. The key is to find the crispest, greenest, healthiest grass around. In thick grass beds, look for pockets and holes. In sparse grass look for the thickest clumps.
He wants to make as many presentations as possible and to elicit reaction strikes, and said that the most important aspect of the presentation is a completely vertical fall. If the lure pendulums back toward him, he’s less likely to get bit. That’s why he uses at least a 3/4-ounce weight, even in 2 feet of water. He rarely goes lower than that. “If anything, I’m going to go heavier.” He fishes it on 50-pound braid “99 percent” of the time, nothing that braid allows the bait to fall faster, creating less overall resistance. His favorite colors for flipping baits are anything that imitates a bluegill, especially various shades of green, but also black and blue on occasion. Green pumpkin/blue and sprayed grass are his most frequent choices. He generally starts off with a small craw, but will vary his looks until he finds the one working best on any given day.
When the flipping bite is the deal, he doesn’t wait for things to get right – he’ll chase it right out of the gate in the morning and keep with it all day in search of a big bag of bass. At the same time, he recognizes that on heavily-pressured lakes the bass can get tired and wary of the same old compact craws and creature baits. When things tighten up, he’ll often switch to a “powershot” rig in the same places, a technique that he was very reluctant to give up. He uses the same flipping stick and the same 50-pound braid, just with a 4/0 straight shank hook and a 1-foot leader. His weight is usually once again either 3/4- or 1 ounce, but this time it’s essentially a catfish sinker and he ties it directly to his line. “You don’t want a clip on the top because the impact is so hard.” In order to offer the resident bass a “completely different look,” he’ll usually start off with a Senko-style bait, but won’t hesitate to rotate in a beaver as well in order to keep the fish primed and ready. “There are times when they can’t stand it,” he said.
If you want to learn some of the additional elements of Paquette’s milfoil flipping strategies, such as his favorite creature bait colors, check out the full video filmed at ICAST, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.