Early fall is my favorite time to fish matted vegetation on the Tennessee River lakes. With all that vegetation, though, how do you find the best place to fish? One way is just to start fishing an area near a drop-off or other structure nearby, and keep going until you get bit. Fish like to group up this time of year, and usually where you hit one, you’ll hit several. But I also look and listen for visual and audible clues that tell me bass are in the weeds. This time of year they’ll get in the mats to feed on bluegills that are in there eating bugs and algae in the hollow spaces under the mats. You can see the bluegills sometimes, but you can also hear them. They make a popping sound when they slurp in something. If you see and hear bluegills, there are going to be bass around. My favorite search baits for this situation are either a hollow-bodied frog or a creature-style bait with about an ounce-and-a-half weight that I flip into the weeds. If the water’s fairly open, I’ll use something in a bluegill pattern, but most of the time I’ll use black or maybe another dark color with metal-flake because I think the bass are zeroing in on the commotion more than the look. On the surface or down in the cover – either way, they think it’s a bluegill.
---- EverStart pro Randall Tharp, Gardendale, Ala.