UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Targeting Prespawn Bass in Eelgrass

Targeting Prespawn Bass in Eelgrass
Justin Atkins

Eelgrass is a type of aquatic vegetation that can be found in many rivers and lakes throughout the United States. Its recent flourishing in Tennessee River lakes such as Pickwick and Guntersville has changed how bass set up during the winter and prespawn periods.

Forrest Wood Cup champion Justin Atkins began his rookie season on the FLW Tour in 2017 with a ninth-place finish at Guntersville by targeting bass in eelgrass with a crankbait, and he has a solid understanding of how to capitalize on eelgrass patterns in the early part of the year.

 

Why Eelgrass?

Even though hydrilla and milfoil are present at Guntersville, Atkins says eelgrass is his choice during the prespawn because of where it grows and how easy it is to fish reaction baits around it.

“It creates the perfect current break,” he says. “It grows in the 5- to 8-foot range on main-river bars. This time of year the fish want to be out in the river, but not directly in the current. It stops growing right around 8 feet deep, and that creates a perfect hard line.

“The way that eelgrass grows is really tight together. It is very thick, and that blocks the current better. Hydrilla is short during the colder months and doesn’t create as much of a break.”

The rigidness of the eelgrass stalk also allows for more reaction bait tactics. 

“It’s a really rigid grass, and you can fish a small [diving] crankbait or lipless [crankbait] right through it. If you hook a piece of it, it is really easy to snap the rod with minimal effort and clean the bait,” Atkins says. “With hydrilla, even a little bit requires you to rip it hard, and often you will waste an entire cast with grass on your hooks.”

 

Where to Find Eelgrass

The 5- to 8-foot-deep zone is where Atkins usually focuses on Guntersville, but that range can vary in other fisheries or times of year.

Atkins utilizes digital mapping to zero in on his favorite depth zone.

“I change the colors on my chart to show just the 5- to 8-foot depth and then use side scan to look for eelgrass,” he says.

He’s also found that certain areas tend to promote the growth of eelgrass; sometimes it’s based on bottom content, but primarily it’s a result of the plant’s proclivity for current.

“It is mostly a main-river species,” Atkins adds. “Eelgrass is current-related and seems to do best on wide river bars.”

 

 

How to Fish It

During the winter and prespawn, Atkins has a one-two punch to target eelgrass.

“A small [billed] crankbait and a lipless [crankbait] are the two deals,” says Atkins, who prefers a highly buoyant balsa crankbait that dives 4 to 6 feet for most Guntersville applications. “They allow you to cover water quickly, and because the grass is so thick together you can’t punch it or fish it as effectively with other lures.

“I like to use a more limber rod,” he adds. “You don’t need a stiff rod to rip through the grass like you do with hydrilla.”

When faced with vast expanses of eelgrass, Atkins will always start by targeting the grass edge on the downcurrent side. 

“I always start there because that is going to be the best current break,” he says. “From there, I might have to fish the topside of the grass because often it is a foot or so taller on the shallow side, and that creates another break.”

Atkins keeps his bait right above the grass, occasionally making contact and ripping it free. He experiments with casting across the edge or along it. Each can produce, and it can vary by day or location. 

“I mark a waypoint each time I get a bite, and then I can start to develop a pattern for how the fish are holding to it that day. There are times when all of your fish will be in one small section of a mile-long stretch of eelgrass. I find that they seem to really group up in eelgrass.”

 

Tags: tyler-brinks  article 

Backlash with Jordan Osborne

Backlash with Jordan Osborne

FLW Tour pro Jordan Osborne discusses life in Texas, the business of running a pawnshop and how, as a self-taught bass angler, he's leaned on his competitive drive to overcome the doubters in his quest to make it at the highest levels of tournament bass fishing. READ MORE »

Register Now for FLW KBF Kayak Open

Register Now for FLW KBF Kayak Open

The first of two joint kayak fishing tournaments conducted in partnership between FLW and Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) will take place at Nickajack Lake May 4-5. The tournament will be held in conjunction with the FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga. Both events are hosted by Fish Dayton and Fish Lake Chickamauga. To register for the FLW/KBF Open. visit KayakBassFishing.com/flw. READ MORE »

Latimer, Cobb Honored by Visit Anderson

Latimer, Cobb Honored by Visit Anderson

Latimer represents Green Pond Landing and Event Center (on Lake Hartwell) with logos on his boat and jersey, and, with Hartwell serving as Latimer’s home lake, he’s being honored with a press conference on April 22 at Green Pond Landing to celebrate his recent success. READ MORE »

Cup Bubble Boys with Two to Go

Cup Bubble Boys with Two to Go

The top 40 pros in the 2019 FLW Tour standings qualify to fish the FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton Aug. 9-11. For about a dozen pros, the final two events of the season will decide whether they make it in or out. READ MORE »

Lawyer Loads Up on Cover Cash at Grand Lake

Lawyer Loads Up on Cover Cash at Grand Lake

Jeremy Lawyer has become well acquainted with earning bonus money through contingency programs like LEER Cover Cash and Toyota Bonus Bucks. In fact, he just pocketed another $500 from Leer and $2,000 from Toyota for his first-place finish on Grand Lake. These two programs, among others, have been especially kind to Lawyer throughout his career. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: Cherokee Lake

By the Numbers: Cherokee Lake

You can drive from the TVA Dam Boat Launch on Cherokee Lake to the Dayton Boat Dock on Lake Chickamauga – takeoff sites for the next two FLW Tour events – in less than two hours, yet the two eastern Tennessee fisheries are wildly different in a number of important ways.  READ MORE »

Nabe to Use Marshal Winnings for Leg Surgery

Nabe to Use Marshal Winnings for Leg Surgery

When you live a bass-fishing vagabond lifestyle, sleep in a van and have no bank account, every dollar counts out there on the tournament trail. That’s why Hiroyuki Watanabe – better known as Nabe – was very pleased to earn the $2,500 winner’s check for being the top-finishing marshal at the Grand Lake FLW Tour event last week. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: Grand Lake

By the Numbers: Grand Lake

After prespawn slugfests on Sam Rayburn, Toho and Seminole, the FLW Tour heads a little further north for what should be another big-bag prespawn showdown. READ MORE »

Bolton’s Real Secret to Success

Bolton’s Real Secret to Success

Kentucky pro Terry Bolton nearly retired from fishing in 2018, but his wife, Dacy, whom he married in the fall, convinced him to stick with it and helped him remember why he loves to fish so much: for the fun of it. Now, he's won an FLW Tour event and is leading the Angler of the Year race. READ MORE »

FLW Magazine Spring Issue Shipping Now

FLW Magazine Spring Issue Shipping Now

The spring issue of the FLW Bass Fishing magazine is shipping now to subscribers. It comes complete with the best bass fishing tips, technique breakdowns, profiles and tournament coverage in the industry. Each quarterly issue includes gear reviews, tips and tricks from the pros, and full coverage of the FLW tournament scene. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

Tournament champion Brent Butler ran different patterns nearly every day in the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Chickamauga last week. The tournament, presented by T-H Marine, wasn’t quite the slugfest many expected it to be, but Butler’s 68-pound, 8-ounce three-day total was still an impressive showing. The rest of the top 10 got on a handful of patterns – some the same all three days and some changing from day to day – but all worked well enough to earn a top 10 and a paycheck. READ MORE »

Darrell Lowrance Part of Fishing’s First Generation of Innovators

Darrell Lowrance Part of Fishing’s First Generation of Innovators

The future of fishing is brighter thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of industry pioneer Darrell Lowrance, who passed away on Saturday at age 80. FLW joins the industry in mourning his loss, and offers its condolences to the Lowrance family. READ MORE »

Seminole on YouTube

Seminole on YouTube

The third stop of the FLW Tour season on Lake Seminole was a roaring success. Many pros documented their practice and tournament days to give viewers an inside look at how their event unfolded. READ MORE »

FLW, Abu and Boy Scouts Launch Youth Contingency

FLW, Abu and Boy Scouts Launch Youth Contingency

FLW, along with Abu Garcia and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), recently announced a new contingency program for youth bass anglers who fish the YETI FLW College Fishing and Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing tournament circuits. READ MORE »

President Signs S. 47, Expands Fishing Access

President Signs S. 47, Expands Fishing Access

President Donald Trump, on Tuesday, signed into law S. 47, a package of bills that “sets forth provisions regarding various programs, projects, activities, and studies for the management and conservation of natural resources on federal lands.” READ MORE »

College Open Midday Update — Day 1

College Open Midday Update — Day 1

Kentucky Lake is showing out in a big way on day one of the YETI FLW College Fishing Open. Cool but fairly calm conditions have paved the way for a lot of quality fish and some impressive stringers so far. READ MORE »

KHSAA Region 2 Tournament Moved

KHSAA Region 2 Tournament Moved

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) Region 2 bass tournament originally scheduled on Lake Cumberland out of General Burnside Island State Park has been moved to Halcomb’s Landing. READ MORE »

FLW, Kayak Bass Fishing Join Forces

FLW, Kayak Bass Fishing Join Forces

FLW announced today that it has partnered with Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF), LLC, the nation's foremost organization supporting kayak bass anglers, to hold two kayak bass-fishing tournaments in 2019. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The two events will be held in conjunction with FLW Tour events – the FLW Tour at Lake Chickamauga and the FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton – on nearby fisheries to offer kayak anglers and Tour pros separate fisheries for competition. KBF will manage operation of the two events, and the winners will be recognized on the FLW Tour stage and featured in FLW’s media outlets. READ MORE »

Polaris Named Title Sponsor of ROY Award

Polaris Named Title Sponsor of ROY Award

FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today that Polaris, the leading global powersports manufacturer, has been named the presenting sponsor for the coveted Polaris FLW Tour Rookie of the Year (ROY) award. The award is given to the highest-ranked first-year angler on the prestigious Tour, which features some of the top anglers in professional bass fishing. READ MORE »

FLW Kayak Fishing

READ MORE »