After two weeks of inconsistent fishing, due to an overabundance of weather fronts, the bass are once again biting. Typical shoreline haunts, such as docks, cane and pads are holding fish, but it is the off-shore slop that is really producing numbers of largemouths — with some big piggies to boot.
Large slop expanses can be a tough cookie to crack. Here are some tips to up your odds.
Find the Wind
Wind blowing directly into slop is a sure-fire condition for producing fish. Largemouth bass will station themselves on the wind-blown side, tucked just under the edge of cover, concealed and ready to pounce on whatever swims their way.
Depending on the severity of the wind, boat control can become an issue. I like to position myself adjacent to the slop mat, with the side of my boat parallel to the edge. This helps me work the mat more efficiently, as I am always pitching baits ahead of the boat and bringing them back along the edge, keeping my jig or plastic offering in the strike zone longer.
Rattles help for attracting fish that are further inside the edge, but for those fish that holding just inside and fired up, most times your bait will not reach the bottom before getting bit.
Spend your day only concentrating on the wind-blown side of mats. This will afford you a better chance at fish.
Ensure that there is adequate depth underneath the slop you are fishing. I prefer to fish areas in at least 3 feet of water, with four or five being even better. Green vegetation and lead-in cover always gets the nod, also.
On my last outing (see image of the two best fish) I caught 23 largemouth from one massive piece of slop. On that day I opted to work both wind-blown edges and those on the lee side. Those edges not getting hit by the wind accounted for three fish. Enough said.
Work the Top
After working the wind-blown edge thoroughly with jigs or plastics, it is now time to work the top. Pull out a plastic frog and bomb it over the mat.
A frog has two uses when working a slop mat. It will pick off those aggressive fish that are tough to get a jig to. They also work to visually show me where a hot fish is, as when one explodes on my bait but misses, a quick pitch with a weedless plastic to the now visible opening will often get bit.
Use the slop mat as an anchor, letting your boat drift up to the edge. This will allow you time to thoroughly work all areas. Keep in mind that most fish (on those really windy days) will be within the first 10 or so feet of the edge, so concentrate on this prime locale before working deeper in.
Slop mats are one of my favorite structure spots to fish. As we tradition into fall, those areas are sure to only get better and better.