(Editor's note: Here's another quick feature from Alan McGuckin of Dynamic Sponsorships.)
For anglers not used to picking apart coontail, eel grass, milfoil and hydrilla, approaching massive acres of aquatic vegetation can be as intimidating as a high school quarterback walking into an NFL stadium full of fired-up fans.
Team Toyotaís Brandon Lester has made a detailed study of how to pluck bass from grass en route to winning $800,000 thus far in his short pro career. He graciously shares a look at his playbook in timely fashion as early fall often begins the best grass fishing of the year.
> A garden variety is best Ė To the casual observer with an untrained eye, expansive acres of matted vegetation might all look the same. Look closer at a place like iconic Lake Guntersville and youíll see coontail, eel grass, milfoil and hydrilla often mixed together like Olive Gardenís famous house salad.
ďAnytime you see three or four species of vegetation growing together, I can almost assure you thatís going to be a great place to get bites," Lester said. "In fact, you need to look for places where one kind of grass marries up against the other to form a sort of a transition; thatís the juice."
> Punching hydrilla and frogging milfoil Ė ďI want to be careful about not speaking too general here, but in order to make grass fishing a little easier to grasp, typically hydrilla grows a little deeper near the main river or creek channel vs. milfoil that grows a bit shallower toward the back of the creek,Ē says Lester.
ďSo, for the most part, hydrilla is best suited for punching a little beaver-style creature bait on a 1.5-ounce weighted Texas rig. Whereas milfoil may only have two or three feet of water under its mats, so they can find a frog a lot easier."
He uses 50-pound Vicious No Fade Braided line when frogging and 60-pound braid when punching a Texas rig.
> Create a disturbance, then listen for the Rice Crispies Ė One trick Lester learned from the "old-timers" was to run his boat up into the middle of a grass mat to stir the ecological pot beneath. Obviously, this should be done with caution because you canít be totally sure what hazards lie beneath the huge carpets of vegetation, but it most always rings the dinner bell.
The best way to tell whether the dinner bell has been properly rung is to stop and listen for a couple minutes before ever making a cast. Lester and others will tell you if the bluegill, bugs and baitfish are active it will sound like Rice Crispies cereal crackling in a bowl of milk.
ďIf youíll be patient and listen for two or three minutes, youíll be able to hear if things are popping and crackling, and if they are, your chances of getting bit are good. But if you donít hear the Rice Crispies you should move on."
> Drop some BBs in Kermieís belly Ė Asked to pick just one frog amid a fishing tackle universe that is overpopulated by amphibian lookalikes, Lester chose a Spro Bronzeye 65 in a color called natural red, but he adds a little magic to Kermieís belly.
ďIíll drop two or three BBs into my hollow-bodied frogs to add a little noise, and if the grass mats are super thick like hydrilla often gets, Iíll actually add a single 1/4-ounce worm weight inside my frogs to make them sit deeper in the water as they bulldoze their way through the thick stuff."
Listen to Lesterís wisdom and these once-intimidating large acres of aquatic vegetation will have you plucking fat bass from hydrilla and milfoil like a top chef dicing through romaine and iceberg.