QUICK GUIDE TO FISHING WEED BEDS
Use weed beds to your fishing advantage.
Weed beds are among the most productive fishing grounds in estuaries and impoundments. These underwater tangles of vegetation are typically rich in aquatic life and predatory fish. However, anglers often find weed beds to be frustrating areas to fish and marred by the hassle of constantly picking weed off hooks.
Given that fish love to frolic in weed, it’s important that every angler possesses the skills to effectively target fish in this habitat.
Here are a few tips to get you on your way.
WHY WEED WORKS
• Weed provides habitat and structural complexity
• Weed provides a mini ecosystem and food chain
• Weed provides shelter from predators, UV radiation and environmental conditions
• Weed provides a platform for predation
• Restricts water circulation and provides warmth
PREDATOR AND PREY
Weed beds are an aquatic milk bar to predatory fish. They’re jam-packed with an assortment of potential protein shakes, from small fish to shrimp. Not surprisingly predatory fish find this wide variety and concentration of prey to be enticing.
The structural complexity provides predators with ample camouflage and opportunity to lurk among the weedy shadows and wait for prey to stray into striking range.
AVENUES OF ATTACK
There are 2 angles from which to target weed beds. The first is to attack across the top and encourage fish to rise out of the weed to hit an offering above. Weed beds that lie about one metre below the surface are ideal as they allow shallow subsurface presentations as well as top water options. Weed beds that extend to the surface are difficult to fish and are best suited to weedless surface presentations.
The second angle of attack is to target the dropoffs at the weed edge. The aim is to sink offerings down the front edge of the weed to entice predatory fish to zip out and strike in the open water.
The biggest challenge fishing weed beds is getting offerings as close to the aquatic jungle as possible, whilst avoiding tangles. Bait fishing over weed beds is particularly challenging in this regard. The best option is to suspend baits on a float, either above the weed bed or half way down a dropoff. The most convenient floats are clip on varieties that can be quickly and easily adjusted to the ideal depth.
Drifting baits across weed habitat can be an effective way to find fish, but play close attention to the line to ensure the hook is always free of weed.
Lure fishing is a methodical and productive way to fish weed beds. Lures cover plenty of ground and increase the likelihood of crossing paths with predatory fish.
Shallow running and suspending hardbody lures or soft plastics typically work a treat over weed beds. Work these offerings with a steady retrieve or an erratic suspending action to draw strikes from below.
Surface lures are a great option in shallow weed and the only choice when aquatic plants blanket the surface. Topwater lures make plenty of noise and raise the attention of predatory fish. Soft plastic surface lures can also be rigged weedless so that they can be skipped over thick weed and Lillie pads. Target areas with pockets of deeper water among the weed and keep alert for explosive strikes.
POTHOLE THE POCKETS
Another tactic for fishing weed beds is to target any scattered sand pockets. The hollows among the weed often act like mini fish tanks for baitfish and predators and abound with fish. These potholes in the weed can be bombed with soft plastics or poppers.
Spinnerbaits are an effective lure for working through shallow weed in freshwater habitats. The design of spinnerbaits makes them relatively weed resistant and a quick rip is often enough to free them of any weed strands that hold on for a ride. The other benefit of spinnerbaits is that they emit plenty of vibration and light to wake up lurking predators.
BOMB THE DROPS
Fishing weed dropoffs is an effective way to draw strikes from predators backed-up into the weed. The interface between a wall of weed and open water is an ideal area for predators to ambush bait that lurk into open water. Choose deeper diving hardbodies, spinnerbaits or soft plastics with beating or undulating tails. Sink plastics down the face of the dropoff and hold on. Often strikes occur on the drop.
Always utilise slightly stronger than usual gear around thick weed habitat. If an oversized fish strikes and buries deep within weed, it can add enormous stress to your tackle and line. Have a net handy and heave those fish out as fast as possible.
Weed beds offer plenty of fishing entertainment and action, so don’t bypass the weed beds on your next outing. Follow these simple tips and arm yourself to tackle the weed.
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