Rat Fishing for Explosive Bass
By: Jim Logan
I call it slop fishing. It's an excellent pattern for catching quality bass. Bass love overhead cover; it gives then a sense of security. Slop fishing isn't a pattern that you can count on all of the time but it is a good option for an angler looking for a big bass.
Rat fishing over thick weeds calls for heavy tackle. I use a heavy-duty flippin' rod with 50 lb. test braided line. A stiff rod matched with strong, low stretch line is needed to pull bass out of heavy weeds. The lures that I use are hollow-bodied, soft plastic baits with double hooks that curl up around the bait's body. The points rest against the top half of the bait which serves as a weedgaurd. The one that I like the best is Bass Pro Shop's swimming frog. You can use other frogs and rats like Mann's Super Rat. Moss Master Tournament Frog, or Strike King's Grass Frog. The overhead cover that I fish is plants that root on the bottom, grow to the surface, and form a mat. This would be milfoil, coontail, lily pads, weeds that have blown against the bank, and green algae that forms a carpet of slime on the water.
Rat fishing produces best from mid-summer through fall. I think it is at it's best when the sun is the brightest, from 11am to 2pm, during a cold front, or when the fish have received some heavy fishing pressure. To fish this lure, I make a long cast to likely-looking spots, let the rat set for a few seconds, then retrieve. I use a moderate, continuous retrieve. This lets me cover the weeds quickly and it gives the fish every opportunity to locate it.
I try to cover the productive areas such as potholes within the pads, outer and inner points, pockets where there is rock, where different types of grass meet, and any other irregular edges. When a bass finally grabs your bait, wait until you see the lure disappear and feel the weight of the bass before setting the hook. Most fishermen set the hook to fast when they hear the splash or see the explosive topwater strike. This is a sure method to miss the fish. You have to have nerves of steel to keep from jerking the bait away from the fish.
In rat fishing, you can expect to miss about 50% of the strikes that you get. When you get a "blow-up" and miss the fish, quickly throw to the same place; the fish may try again. If not, you should come back to that spot again in 10 or 15 minutes. You know where that bass it and you have a chance at it again. After hooking a bass, apply heavy pressure to wrestle it out before it becomes tangled in the weeds. If this happens, don't try to force the fish out with rod pressure, you may rip the hooks free of the fish's mouth. Keep the line moderately tight and go in after the fish. Use other retrieves, faster, slower, stop and go. Be versatile until you find just how to trigger the bass into striking.
This is not a technique for light tackle or for the light-hearted bass angler. It's so exciting that after the first blow-up or first big bass you catch using this system, you will be HOOKED!
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