Slop mats hold ambush-oriented bass in great numbers. Concealed from the sun by the overhead canopy of vegetation, mats are easy to spot out on the water but can be a struggle to get through and to the fish. Here are four tips to help you punch your way in more easily.
1. Turn to Tungsten Worm Weights for the Perfect Punch Rig
A Texas-rigged plastic bait is your best bet for penetrating slop. A tungsten worm weight, due to it being more dense than lead, is significantly smaller than its predecessor. A smaller profile will allow you to punch through the mat more easily. Also, due to its small size, increasing the weight is possible without radically sacrificing size. For most slop situations, I turn to 1 or 1.5 ounce worm weights. If the cover is really thick, 2 ounces or greater may be necessary.
Also Read: How to Set Up the Texas Rig
2. Slim Profiled Plastic Baits Make the Best Punch Rigs
Choose simple plastic baits that are cylindrical in shape and free from appendages. The less "arms" or "tails" to hang up at the entry hole, the better the chances of your bait getting through. One of my favorite baits is a paddle tail worm. Simple and gets the job done.
3. Lob the Fishing Bait Up to Punch Through
Your cast is crucial if you want to get your bait through the mat and to the fish. An underhand lob cast — straight up in the air — is your best bet. Sending your bait high in the air (20 or so feet) and allowing it to free fall down is necessary in order for your worm weight to punch through. Not all casts will penetrate, so repeat lobs are often needed. This lob cast may look silly but it certainly does work.
Don't be concerned about the sound of your bait hitting the slop at those speeds. If anything, it will ring the dinner bell for any bass present, alerting them to the fact that food has arrived.
4. Take a Rake to Make Holes in the Slop to Fish
Some mats hold more fish than others. A trick I use, especially with those favorable mats, is to bring a garden rake out in the boat with me. By raking one foot diameter holes in the slop, I am able to come back later in the day and fish these areas with ease. You will initially disturb the resident fish with this practice, but, if the mat is a prime one, they will settle down or return relatively quickly. And yes, raking out on the water looks even sillier than the aforementioned lob cast, but, it is a guaranteed trick that will put more fish in your boat.