Fishing in weedy lakes
Article By: Joe Seaborne 2021-05-09
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a lake that's completely disgusting and overrun with weeds? Weeds that seem to go on for miles, with no end in sight? Weeds that float around on the surface of the water like some sort of oil spill? That are so dense you can’t even run your outboard?
Have you ever had your entire fishing trip ruined by weeds?
I’d like to say no, but unfortunately, I’ve had my fair share of spoiled fishing trips due to weeds. I mean who actually enjoys fishing a weedy lake? Losing your lures, catching salad, gumming up your prop—sounds like a real good time!
So how do you make fishing in a weedy lake enjoyable?
The answer is simple—use proper gear!
Sounds simple enough right? But what’s the proper gear for fishing in a weed-infested lake anyway?
Well for starters, you’ll have a much better experience if your lures are designed for weeds!
So to begin with let’s take a look at what lures are going to perform the best in weedy lakes.
Topwater baits for weedy lakes
Topwater baits are great because they’re designed to stay on the surface of the water, keeping them away from most of the weeds. Some popular topwater baits are pencils, crankbaits, Jerkbaits, flys and frogs.
Weedless hooks aren’t going to completely stop snags but they’ll minimize your chances of getting caught up on something big.
popular weedless hooks:
Jigs for weedy lakes
Jigs are probably the best all-round lure for fishing in weedy lakes because they’re easily dropped through the weeds and flicked around without having to worry about getting snagged.
Popular Jig Trailers:
Next, you're going to want to focus on the presentation and action of your lure. Having the proper lure for the job is an essential first step but knowing how to use it is just as equally important!
Techniques for fishing in thick weeds
Popping and splashing
Popping is a top-water technique that replicates the action of something moving, swimming or struggling to get across the water.
Popping a top-water bait involves a series of flicks and pauses. Flick, pause, flick pause, flick, pause...
A common scenario to think about would be something like a mouse that somehow fell into the water and is desperately trying to get out.
Try to imagine whatever you’re mimicking. You’re creating a story that has to convince your audience!
Sit and look around first—try to identify what the fish are eating. Can you hear frogs close by? Is there a grain field that could attract mice? Do you see any grasshoppers? Are there any flowers that could attract bees? These are all clues that should be a part of the story you’re about to tell.
In other words, let the lake choose the lure for you!
How to pop and splash a lure
Predatory fish like pike and walleye are always looking for an easy target and are naturally drawn to the sounds of something in distress.
The first step is to select the lure that best resembles what you’re trying to mimic. You’ll want to focus on the size, colour, shape and action of the lure. As well as balance and buoyancy.
For this article, I’ll stick with the mouse in distress scenario, since It’s a commonly used tactic for attracting aggressive fish.
Try to imagine what it would look like if you were watching a struggling mouse swimming across a bed of weeds.
When you’re popping a top-water bait, you're mimicking those same actions! You want all the same sounds and movements of a mouse splashing around in the water. The more realistic it looks the better your results will be.
Remember, the fish are your audience and if they like what they see they’ll let you know!
Don’t worry about the proper way of doing things—use your intuition!
If you do a quick search on Google about popping a top-water bait, I’m sure you’ll find an infinite number of gurus that have the “one and only” perfect technique for popping a lure. The reality is that fish don’t care. If it looks and sounds like something they want to eat, they’ll go for it. Use your judgment to decide what looks real and practice to get better at it.
What are some good top-water baits for popping and splashing?
Techniques for fishing with a weedless lure.
Weedless lures are designed to minimize unwanted snags by making it harder for unwanted objects to come in contact with the hook. They work fairly good but you’re still going to get caught up in weeds if you don’t know what you're doing, it’s not like you can slap on a weedless lure and forget about snags!
How do you use a weedless lure in the weeds?
Try Aiming for small openings: Depending on your casting skills—try to hit narrow openings. When you’re fishing in thick weeds you can usually find some muskrat channels that are perfect for casting a lure into. Not only are these channels convenient because they have fewer weeds but they should also be deeper because of all the muskrat activity. Just be careful not to snag a muskrat!
Use a heavy line: Sooner or later you’re going to get caught up in something big and have to say goodbye to your lure. If you’re fishing in a lot of weeds, you’ll lose fewer lures if you put on a heavier line! I use at least a 30lb braided line for fishing weedy lakes.
Use a smaller lure: I learnt this one the hard way! After losing countless lures I finally realized that a six-inch spoon might not be the best choice for fishing in the weeds. You’re going to have a much better time if you stick with small to medium-sized lures when you’re dealing with weeds.
Is jigging the ultimate technique for fishing in weedy lakes?
If you’re dealing with a lake that has more weeds than water, then it’s going to be hard to do anything other than jig. The good news is that with a few modifications you can jig with any lure. You’re going to want a jig but hey if you’re in a pinch use whatever you have!
Straight up and down jigging
It’s actually a very simple yet effective technique that’s perfect for fishing in dense patches of weeds. You simply drop a lure into the water, let it sink, then flick it up and let it sink. Jigging can be done at various depths and can be as technical or simple as you like.
Don't have a jig? No problem!
If you’re in a pinch and need to do some jigging, just tie some sinkers onto whatever you have. Just let it sink and jig away! I know it's not the most ideal solution but sometimes you don't have a choice.
What to think about when jigging
When jigging you want to think about what movements are going to provoke a strike. Most game fish are predatory by nature and are always on the lookout for an easy meal—which makes them more likely to go after something that’s sick or weak. This makes total sense when you think about it since it takes a predator less energy and increases the odds of a successful hunt if they target something that’s already dying.
What does a dying fish look like?
A typical tell-tale sign that a fish is dying is when they start swimming in an arch. I’m honestly not sure about the exact science or reasoning behind it but if you’ve ever watched a dying fish swim, you’ll notice that they have a hard time staying level. They tend to sink or lay on the bottom for a few seconds before trying to correct themselves by quickly swimming back up, which goes on and on until they eventually die.
Mimicking a dying fish with a jig
This is an extremely easy technique that works great for big predators like pike, muskie and walleye. It works by takings advantage of their natural tendency to go after something that’s sick or dying by replicating the same arching swim pattern of a dying fish.
Start by dropping your jig into the water and let it sink to the bottom. This action is straight up and down, so you don’t have to cast it out, just drop it straight down and let it sink.
You’re going to need a lot of vertical movement to make the jig move in a big arch, so make sure the tip of your rod is pointed down towards the water.
Let your jig sit on the bottom of the lake for a few seconds, then lift it four to six feet. Hold it for about three seconds then slowly drop it back down in a steady arching motion.
You might have to play around a bit but the general idea is to move your jig in an arching motion so it looks like a dying fish.
Best lures for the "dying fish technique"
Storm WildEye Live Pike
Mimicking a crawfish with a jig
Using a crawfish trailer on a jig is a classic for catching all types of fish in thick weeds because crawfish are a staple food source for many predators and probably taste delicious.
How do crawfish move in the water?
Crawfish are slow-forward walkers that spend most of the time looking for food on the bottom of lakes, rivers and streams. When threatened crawfish retreat by swimming backwards in short bursts while quickly scurrying away.
It’s all about the short bursts
When you’re jigging with a crawfish trailer you want the action to be a sequence of short, fast bursts followed by a long pause at the end. This one will replicate a crawfish that’s trying to get away from something and will be sure to get the attention of nearby fish.
Best crawfish trailers
Havoc Rocket Craw