By the end of summer, grass such as hydrilla can get so thick and matted that it’s almost impossible to fish with a conventional jig. In fact, you’re better off not even trying. Instead, I use one of two types of jigs: a ¾- or 1-ounce Punisher jig with a pointed head and inline tie that goes through vegetation better, and a punch jig that I put together.
If I’m fishing milfoil, which doesn’t get as super-dense as hydrilla, probably I’m going to fish the Punisher jig and flip it around the edges of grass lines where there are points or other irregularities. Later on, as the sun gets up, I’ll work my way into the thicker mats.
If the grass is so thick that it has a hard time getting to the bottom, I’ll rig up a punch jig. For this, I use a Rockybrook rig stopper, then a Rockybrook tungsten flipping weight, followed by a 5/0 snelled wide-gap hook with a 4½-inch Yamamoto Flapping Hog and a punch skirt.
Most of the time, I’m going with a black-and-blue lure and skirt. I’ll use a sinker just heavy enough to get the rig through the grass – though that might wind up being an ounce and a half if it’s really thick. My reel is a Lew’s Tournament Pro with 50- or 60-pound braid. I’ll pair the Punisher jig with a 7 ½-foot Kistler flipping rod. For the punch jig, though, I’ll go with a 7-foot, 11-inch extra-heavy Kistler flipping rod that will let me really winch them out of the thickest stuff.
What I’ve found is that most of my bites are going to come at the bottom through the summer, so I’ll just let the jig go to the bottom, give it a couple of hops and bring it back up if I don’t get bit. Later in the fall, when we start getting cold fronts, bass seem to suspend more under the mats on warm, sunny days and might take the jig as it’s falling past them. But they won’t go to the bottom and get it. What you want to do then is bounce the jig a couple of times on the bottom, then lift it up to just under the mat and shake it a couple of times before bringing it in. Hopefully, a bass will grab it somewhere along the way.
---- Chevy pro Jay Yelas, Corvallis, Ore.