Most of my fishing/writing centers around beautiful Toledo Bend and by far, the number one question from readers at email@example.com and the answering machine in 2002 has been....What happened to the grass? This subject is so significant that a feature in the January issue of Bassmaster magazine was devoted solely to the grass problem on The Bend. By grass we are referring to hydrilla....the holy grail of bass structure. Never again will we ever take healthy hydrilla for granted. I rode a long, cold boat ride today just to feel it tugging on my pole. Today's long boat ride will be repeated time-and-again by this angler and many others looking for a grassy ridge/hump loaded with bass.
COOTS A MILLION: Coots (little grass-eating black ducks) and bass have something in common; They both love hydrilla. However, the difference is that bass want to use it for a house and coots want to have it for lunch. It's easy to find the grass...just find the coots. I fished behind several thousand grazing coots recently as they attacked a south Toledo hydrilla patch. If you have ever been served 'left-overs' behind a concentration of grass-gulping duckies you know that my choice of lures were like this hydrilla patch.....greatly reduced. The surface was covered with hydrilla that the coots had pulled up as I am told that they only eat the ends of the plant. I wanted to work a suspended jerkbait along the grass ridge, but the floating debris of valuable, dislodged hydrilla made that impossible.
By this time I had just about had it with these fine-feathered-friends. I tried to blow my horn, whistle, scream and clap my hands...anything to get them to move on to the next grass bed and let me have that one. Nothing doing...they were not moving. They knew, as I did, that the next hydrilla patch was three miles away. I was tempted to fire up my one-week-old Skeeter 250ZX and plough through the whole mess....but that temptation passed. After all, they are God's creatures and The Creator programmed them to crave hydrilla. Besides, coots are some of the best aviators ever created, and when spooked, can deliver a full 'load' straight to the cock-pit of the fastest of bass boats. I decided to 'chill', then picked up my Stanley jig n pig and saved my jerkbait for another fishing hole.
MORE ABOUT HYDRILLA: My line of work finds me on the lake several days each week 12 months out of the year. When comparing the amount of hydrilla that is on the lake now to my findings six months ago, I want to be somewhat optimistic. I do believe that there may have been a slight increase in coverage in recent months. There is new hydrilla growth in several areas that had previously been vacant of aquatic growth. Whether this additional plant life hangs on and multiplies remains to be seen. What happened last spring was that new growths of hydrilla could be seen in numerous areas of the lake, only to find it quickly dislodge and disappear by late spring/early summer.
One incident stands out vividly in my mind. It happened last year in mid-April
while guiding clients in the Six Mile Creek area. I returned to a ridge
where I had fished the week before that had good hydrilla and held a concentration
of bass. I could not believe my electronics....no grass! How could that
be....one week and the grass disappeared? Obviously, the bass were gone
too. I did remember seeing large patches of green hydrilla floating on
the surface the week before. Other anglers reported similar happenings
last year, as seemingly hydrilla was just turning loose and coming to
the surface. Let's hope this years new growth will take hold and hang
around for the duration. Big Sam Rayburn had some bare years and now has
plenty of healthy hydrilla so let's hope the same will be true for The
AUTHOR INFO: Joe Joslin is a syndicated columnist, tournament angler and
pro guide on Toledo. His sponsors include Lake Area Marine in Lake Charles,
Skeeter/Yamaha, Pure Fishing, Stanley Jigs Inc., TTI Industries and ReAction
Lures. Reach him at 337-463-3848, 409-565-1288 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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