Weeds everywhere. Can't get in a cast without fouling? Impossible to fish and moving on!
I've heard that several times this month and if you let them, weeds can foul up your day if you aren't willing to adapt to the ever changing conditions. On the other hand, weed fishing can produce big fish and big numbers. Weed beds on a normally barren bar or flat can turn the area into a fish magnet.
It seems with this winter's hot weather (water) and abundant sunshine the weeds that normally die back have kept right on growing and in many areas of Matlacha Pass and the sound are covered in thick growth.
Capt. George Tunison
So now that you know your weed infested unfishable bar is fishable how do you attack it? First stop and look. What is the tide doing? Coming in? If the direction of flow is south to north and the bar stretches east to west most gamefish typically will be on the points of the bar and on the north side of the bar.
On Thursday's charter we approached a bar with the tide pushing us toward the bar. Repeated casts produced nothing so we quickly went out and around and quietly re-approached the bar from the opposite side, casting to the bar and retrieving with the current. This side of the bar was filled with fish as well as on both points. Fish typically hang out behind structure facing into the current waiting for food to come to them on the tide.
Usually, the perimeter of the weed bed has weeds beneath the surface. Now, 90 percent of your tackle box is useless. Fish these areas with light weight topwater plugs or fly rod poppers, weedless flies or spoons, spinnerbaits, and weedless soft plastics. Fish quietly, scanning for open pockets or lanes through the weed bed. Take a small stepstool or a cooler and elevate yourself a foot or two off the deck wearing good polarized glasses to get a much better view.
Weedless spoons, such as a classic Johnson spoon, work well but a Nemire spoon is more weedless. Once it becomes too thick for spoons weedless soft plastics become the go-to bait. Weedless hook systems like the Owner TwistLOCK coupled to a plastic grub or jerkbait will glide through the weeds without hanging as much.
Toss out the lure, let it settle down into the vertical weeds, then with a flip of the rod snap it off bottom, reel forward a little and let it drop again, all the way through the bed. If a big critter is hiding he won't be able to let this easy meal pass.
Weedbed fishing is not ultra-light territory. Braided line is a bonus as its small diameter cuts through weeds better than mono and its superior strength is a big plus when fighting fish in the slop. Twenty-pound braid minimum with 30-40 a better choice.
Live bait guys can easily work a popping cork and shrimp through a weedbed as well. Live baitfish tend to tangle in the veggies.
We saw dolphins exploding through super shallow beds chasing reds, trout and ladies. Weeds offer cover, shade and protection. The fish are in there waiting for you.
Being able to adapt to ever changing situations (preparation, knowledge, skill, luck) is one of the more important keys to becoming a good angler.