UPCOMING EVENT: FLW Pro Circuit - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

How to Fish Offshore Grass in Florida

How to Fish Offshore Grass in Florida
Tyler Woolcott

In recent years, fishing a lipless bait, a spinnerbait or a vibrating jig in offshore grass in Florida has lit up the leaderboard in many tournaments. Tyler Woolcott, a second-year pro from Port Orange, Fla., has plenty of experience tracking the bass in offshore grass throughout the seasons, and you might be able to learn a thing or two from him.

 

Find the best grass

According to Woolcott, the most important aspect of offshore grass fishing is also the simplest: You want to be fishing the best grass. Because Florida grass growth fluctuates seasonally and depending on where it is sprayed or harvested, your best bet is often to find the freshest, least-pressured grass.

“You kind of just have to put the time in and find it,” says Woolcott of the hunt for good grass. “There will be little community holes where people have found it for a while, and then there will be spots that pop up that people haven’t found yet. If you saw that big bag that Terry Scroggins weighed in October in the Glenn Browne Memorial, that was off a little patch of grass that nobody had found yet on Harris. If you can find something that nobody has found yet, the fish can be so stacked on it.”

The best way for Woolcott to stay on the leading edge of the search for fresh spots is to have a good network.

“Me and my buddies will spend hours and hours idling around,” he says. “We put our heads together trying new areas to try to find something new that nobody has pressured yet.”

 

Tyler Woolcott

Finer details

Though finding unpressured grass is often the biggest factor in offshore Florida success, it’s important to recognize how varied that grass can be. A great grass spot can be as unobtrusive as a small patch growing 6 inches or a foot off the bottom, or it can be a tall stand of hydrilla that is almost topped out. Woolcott figures the average grass he fishes is growing about halfway to the surface in water that is 6 to 8 feet deep. 

Finding grass that is actually alive and in good condition is also key. Woolcott likes to fish it and pull up a few strands to be sure, but he says you can tell the liveliness to an extent with good electronics skills.

“Once you idle around on a lake for a couple days and see how it looks you can kind of get a good idea,” says Woolcott. “Growing grass is going to look a little different from dead grass. Dead grass is going to sink and flatten out; it’s going to look bland on your StructureScan. When it’s green and growing it looks a little different.”

This year on Lake Seminole, Woolcott found one key stretch of growing grass amid a lot of dying grass. He rode that to a cut and an $11,500 payday.

 

Tyler Woolcott

The seasons only matter a bit

According to Woolcott, you can almost always find Florida bass in offshore grass, but he gives an edge to certain places when the spawn is near.

“Right now, the fish aren’t really doing much of anything besides eating, so they get on things that haven’t been pressured much,” says Woolcott. “Once the spawn comes, if you can find an area that is outside of a good spawning canal or a bay that hasn’t been getting much pressure, that would be a really good area.”

Woolcott has seen hydrilla close to spawning grounds play a number of times, most notably in wintertime tournaments.

“What I fished on Kissimmee last year [in a February Tour event] was like that,” says Woolcott, who booked a top-10 finish with a vibrating jig in that tournament. “I had found a really good area for them to spawn, and they were out staging in the hydrilla next to it.

“I fished with Justin Atkins as a co-angler on the Harris Chain in 2017. He had found some grass at the mouth of a canal in a different part of the lake than usual, and literally my first cast I lost a 5-pounder, and then he caught a 6-pounder. That was a weird area, but it’s set up for that time of year.”

Of course, even when the spawn is in session, you don’t want to just look at the places near spawning areas without looking at the truly offshore grass.

“Depending on the time of year and the weather, places like the Harris Chain can set up different ways, but even if they are spawning there are so many fish there that you can still catch them in the offshore grass and catch them on the bank,” says Woolcott. “The year Chris Johnston won [the 2018 Tour event], he caught them offshore. I was with Rob Jordan as a co-angler the second day, and he caught them just going along the bank and catching fish on the bed.”

 

How to put them in the boat

For most of his grass winding, Woolcott relies on two baits: a vibrating jig and a 13 Fishing Magic Man lipless crankbait.

For both baits, he uses either a 3/4- or 1/2-ounce model, depending on the depth of the grass, and sticks with natural colors such as shad, shiner or green pumpkin patterns. For trailers on his vibrating jigs, Woolcott usually likes either a Gambler Little EZ or EZ Vibez.

Using a 13 Fishing Concept BOSS reel with a 6.6:1 gear ratio to help him keep the baits down, Woolcott always sticks with 15- to 20-pound-test Seaguar AbrazX. He fishes both baits on a 7-foot, 4-inch 13 Fishing Envy Black Chat-R-Crank rod.  

“It’s moderate fast, so it has a good parabolic bend, but also a good tip,” details Woolcott.  “When you’re throwing a vibrating jig or a lipless, you don’t want to set the hook right away. Usually, when they eat it they kind of load up on it, and you just pull back. I’ve perfected it in the last year or two, and that rod is absolutely perfect for it.”

Woolcott does make some modifications to his approach when he’s fishing very shallow grass. Primarily, he moves up to an 8:1 gear ratio reel and swaps over to heavy braided line. The change allows him to clear the bait out of the grass better and fish it faster and higher in the water column.

Perhaps the biggest key for fishing the grass is to actually fish it properly, and that means making a lot of contact with it.

“When I’m throwing a vibrating jig or a lipless, I don’t always do a steady retrieve,” says Woolcott. “I usually get it down in the grass and pop it out. In the offshore grass you want your bait on it. They usually aren’t sitting above it; they’re in it or on the edges using it as an ambush point. So, if you don’t have your bait in it then they probably won’t eat it.”

Fishing moving baits is always Woolcott’s go-to in practice, but sometimes things slow down on derby day. Then he’ll turn to slower stuff like a worm, especially if he’s camped on a particular patch.

 

Tyler Woolcott

Do it

It’s tempting to flip all day in Florida, and the amount of visible, excellent-looking cover can be hard to pass up. But, if you can stand to spend some time idling in search of the motherlode you just might find it. Though finding a willing group off the bank in Florida isn’t a dead parallel to catching fish from offshore schools on the Tennessee River, it can be pretty electric and worthwhile. 

How to fish offshore shell beds in Florida

Tags: pro-tips-weekly  -florida  -harris-chain  -kissimmee  -toho  -hydrilla  jody-white  article 

How to Prep Like a Pro

How to Prep Like a Pro

When it comes to getting ready for a season of tournaments, there are plenty of ways to do it. But, there’s no denying that for most people, being prepared will lead to better performance on the water. READ MORE »

Previewing the 2020 Pro Circuit

Previewing the 2020 Pro Circuit

With the kickoff of the 2020 FLW Pro Circuit coming up January 23 on Sam Rayburn, we've put together previews of every stop of the regular season. Below you'll find an overload of information on the fisheries, prospective patterns and anglers to watch throughout every minute of the season.  READ MORE »

2020 Harris Chain Preview

2020 Harris Chain Preview

One of the most fun places FLW visits, the Harris Chain is a collection of lakes in central Florida that includes Lake Harris, Lake Apopka, Lake Griffin, Lake Eustis, Lake Dora, Lake Carlton, Horseshoe Lake, Little Lake Harris, Lake Denham and Lake Beauclair. In all, the pros have the run of 10 lakes, plus the myriad residential canals, rivers and backwaters that spread out off of them. READ MORE »

2020 Lake Hartwell Preview

2020 Lake Hartwell Preview

Built on the Savannah, Tugaloo and Seneca rivers on the border of South Carolina and Georgia, Lake Hartwell is a fairly typical example of a Southeastern spotted bass and largemouth fishery. Though there are shad and bream, the primary forage is blueback herring. Hartwell has very little vegetation outside of flooded dog fennel, and the primary cover types are docks, rock, shoreline wood, brush and cane piles. READ MORE »

2020 Detroit River Preview

2020 Detroit River Preview

Though the Pro Circuit finale takes off from the Detroit River, that’s hardly the only place the pros will be fishing. Takeoff is near the southern mouth of the river, giving pros easy access to the west end of Lake Erie. At the other end of the river is Lake St. Clair, which has been home to some of the most epic smallmouth beatdowns on record in recent years. READ MORE »

Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier

Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier

Perhaps the hottest spotted bass lake in the East, Lanier should be rocking for the Bulldog Division opener. With lots of plump wintertime spotted bass coming to the scale, along with some largemouths, it would be no surprise to see a winning weight in excess of 20 pounds.   READ MORE »

Choo Choo Division Kicks off at Lake Guntersville

Choo Choo Division Kicks off at Lake Guntersville

According to pro Casey Martin, who once won a BFL on Guntersville with a whopping 40 pounds, 11 ounces, it’s not unreasonable to expect a mid- or upper 20s bag to win this time. READ MORE »

Silver Carp Found In Chickamauga

Silver Carp Found In Chickamauga

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources received a report on Jan. 10 that a silver carp was captured on Chickamauga Lake in October. READ MORE »

The Importance of Having a Mentor

The Importance of Having a Mentor

If you want a chance to have a pro as your personal coach and mentor for 2020, keep reading. READ MORE »

Florida Spawn: Key on Bottom Hardness

Florida Spawn: Key on Bottom Hardness

According to FLW Pro Circuit angler Tim Frederick, who’s lived in Florida since he was 4 years old, one of the most important factors for successfully locating both spawning and staging bass in the coming weeks is bottom hardness. In most situations, the harder the bottom the better, but there’s more to it than that. READ MORE »

Check-In Time: Matt Becker

Check-In Time: Matt Becker

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Matt Becker.  READ MORE »

FLW Series Championship Returns to Cumberland

FLW Series Championship Returns to Cumberland

FLW (Fishing League Worldwide), in conjunction with the Somerset Tourist & Convention Commission and the Burnside Tourism Commission, announced today that the 2020 FLW Series Championship will be held at Lake Cumberland in Burnside and Somerset, Kentucky, Nov. 5-7, 2020. READ MORE »

FLW PHOENIX BONUS Announced for 2020

FLW PHOENIX BONUS Announced for 2020

Phoenix Boats has announced the creation and details of the brand new FLW PHOENIX BONUS for the 2020 FLW tournament season. READ MORE »

The Top 19 Stories of 2019

The Top 19 Stories of 2019

From the beginning, 2019 was a good year of fishing. The FLW Tour got off to a rollicking start on Sam Rayburn, and it really stayed pretty great from there, with a lot of good fishing and a killer Angler of the Year race. Beyond the Tour, all the other circuits had plenty of highlights, too. We saw impressive feats accomplished at all levels and some very exciting individual events. READ MORE »

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade - Part 2

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade - Part 2

From start to finish, the last decade was a wild ride for fishing. The top stories are amazingly diverse, with huge business changes, some incredible tournament feats, and entirely new techniques and lures taking center stage. READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 6 Airs Tuesday

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 6 Airs Tuesday

Join FLW for a watch party for the premiere of Episode 6 of Rapala Varsity Bass presented by General Tire. The episode will air Tuesday, Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. CT. READ MORE »

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade

From start to finish, the last decade was a wild ride for fishing. The top stories are amazingly diverse, with huge business changes, some incredible tournament feats, and entirely new techniques and lures taking center stage. READ MORE »

Reese’s Lake Baccarac Adventure

Reese’s Lake Baccarac Adventure

With a home base of Clear Lake in California, FLW Pro Circuit pro Jimmy Reese is pretty used to phenomenal fishing. But, until Thanksgiving, he’d never sampled the bass fishing in Mexico. Now he has, thanks to a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits trip to Lake Baccarac Lodge that turned into the trip of a lifetime and produced some truly outstanding fishing. READ MORE »

Woolcott Ready for Year-Two Rebound

Woolcott Ready for Year-Two Rebound

When Tyler Woolcott headed out on Sam Rayburn in January 2019 for his first day of competition as an FLW Tour pro, he took off sandwiched between Brad Knight and Bryan Thrift, two pros starting their 11th and 13th seasons at the front of the boat. In stark contrast, Woolcott was beginning his pro career without having fished as a boater at any level of FLW competition. READ MORE »

Running Ditches for Winter Bass

Running Ditches for Winter Bass

There are a lot of excuses to not go fishing this time of year. Though, if you like catching bass and avoiding the crowds, you should definitely consider keeping the boat hooked up to your truck instead of the 4-wheeler. READ MORE »