Anderson: Wading slop for Ol' Bucketmouth

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 17, 2012 - 4:37 AM

Don't have a boat? Pull on a pair of waders, grab a bait-casting reel and cruise shorelines casting weedless plastic baits. But be prepared for explosive strikes from largemouth bass.

view larger photos


BRAINERD - Absent a boat, some anglers remain couch-bound, thinking more about fishing than doing it. This needn't be, particularly when the target is largemouth bass, and especially not in late spring and early summer, when these fish inhabit shoreline haunts.

Bill Marchel and I were talking about this the other evening as we pulled on our waders and slapped the odd mosquito. Wade fishing for bass has long been a favorite pastime of Bill's, and over the years I've joined him on a few forays into shoreline slop -- bait-caster in hand, its spool wound with heavy line.

"Wading for bass is about as much fun as you can have fishing," Bill said.

Of course, many waters that can be fished on foot can also be reached by boat. But not all. Vegetation we waded the other night, for example, was too thick for even the most powerful electric trolling motor.

And too shallow for the shallowest running boat.

Also in their waders, and fishing with Bill and me, were my son, Cole, and his pal, Max Kelley, both 16. The three of us had been bassin' on the Whitefish Chain last week, and took a break from that action -- all undertaken in a boat -- to wade with Bill.

"The key to wade fishing for bass, as in all bass fishing, is to make long casts, to get the lure as far from you as possible," Bill said. "On occasions over the years I've waded for bass on the edge of hard-stem bulrushes or lily pads, and have had fishermen in boats come close to me after they see me catching fish.

"But often they don't catch anything, and it's because they're disturbing too much water with their boat. You have to make long casts."

In the Brainerd area, and also in and around the Twin Cities, there's no shortage of lakes and rivers that can be waded for bass. Some scouting is involved. But little effort is needed to find fairly thick stands of shoreline vegetation, combined with waters of wading depth.

"Let's give it a try," Bill said. And we waded in.

Experienced bass anglers, Max and Cole were well accustomed to chucking baits great distances, whether plastic worms, buzz baits or -- as was the case when we fished with Bill -- Scum Frogs.

These last are weedless, a necessary component of lures used to fish vegetative slop. Also to their advantage, Scum Frogs are heavy enough to cast, and light enough to retrieve while skimming atop lily pads.

Fanning out, the four of us sprayed lures hither and yon, though not so far from one another that we couldn't share in each other's excitement when a bucketmouth rose from the depths to hit a bait.

Which after all is the attraction of top-water bass fishing: seeing the water boil below a lure before a fish explodes topside, its mouth agape, to inhale what Mr. Bass thinks is a frog or other terrestrial.

But instead is a hunk of soft plastic. With hooks.

"Son!" Bill said, as he took one bass, released it, and soon reefed back on another.

Max and Cole were into fish as well, casting stout wands of graphite and unspooling yard after yard of braided line before finding bass lurking just below the surface.

"It's getting a little late in June for this type of fishing," Bill said. "It's still good. But it's not as good as when more of the bass were still along the shorelines, in shallow water."

Over the years, Bill and I also have wade-fished for sunnies. Fly rods can make this sport still more fun, provided they're cast along the edges of vegetation, not in the middle of it, as we did the other evening.

"A fly rod just can't pull bass out of the heavy stuff," Bill said. "Particularly not 3- and 4-pounders. That's why I use 60- or 80-pound line on my bait caster."

Brainerd-area lakes are so popular that sometimes multiple boats crowd favorite walleye and bass haunts.

That's rarely, if ever, the case while wade fishing.

The other night, Bill, Cole, Max and I occasionally heard a personal watercraft whine in the distance, or a vehicle motor atop nearby blacktop.

Otherwise, striding through thick slop, we were so alone we could have been in the boundary waters.

Casting, and casting again.


Dennis Anderson •

  • related content

  • Wading for bass, Bill Marchel casts a Scum Frog into shoreline "slop''...


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
New York 6:00 PM
Denver 7:00 PM
Chicago 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Montreal 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Boston 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Arizona 6:30 PM
Dallas 6:30 PM
Detroit 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Columbus 6:30 PM
Nashville 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Minnesota 8:00 PM
Buffalo 8:30 PM
Anaheim 9:00 PM
San Jose
DePaul 47 2nd Half 7:54
Providence 60
Michigan State 5:00 PM
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Youngstown St 6:00 PM
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
Saint Louis 6:00 PM
George Mason
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
High Point 6:00 PM
Central Conn St 6:00 PM
Long Island
Western Ky 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Dayton 6:00 PM
Chattanooga 6:00 PM
Wofford 6:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Maryland 6:00 PM
Ohio State
FIU 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fair-Dickinson 6:00 PM
Robert Morris
Mount St Marys 6:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Bryant 6:00 PM
St Francis-PA
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Coll of Charleston 6:00 PM
Western Carolina 6:00 PM
Va Military
Sacred Heart 6:00 PM
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Kennesaw St 6:00 PM
North Florida
Appalachian St 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Holy Cross 6:30 PM
Eastern Ill 6:30 PM
UT Martin
Jacksonville St 7:00 PM
Connecticut 7:00 PM
Rider 7:00 PM
Saint Peters
SIU Edwardsville 7:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Marshall 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
Tenn Tech 7:00 PM
Tennessee St
Middle Tennessee 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ill-Chicago 7:00 PM
Weber State 7:00 PM
North Dakota
Denver 7:00 PM
North Dakota St
IUPU-Ft Wayne 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Louisiana 7:05 PM
South Alabama
Georgia State 7:15 PM
Ark-Little Rock 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
ULM 7:30 PM
Portland 8:00 PM
Kentucky 8:00 PM
Eastern Ky 8:00 PM
Murray State
UAB 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Idaho State 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
UMKC 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Chicago State 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Colorado 8:30 PM
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Hawaii 9:00 PM
Pepperdine 9:00 PM
Santa Clara 9:00 PM
San Diego
Utah 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Montana 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana State 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Long Beach State 9:30 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Loyola Marymount 9:30 PM
St Marys-CA
San Francisco 10:00 PM
California 10:00 PM
Washington St
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Saint Josephs 51 FINAL
Saint Louis 52
Appalachian St 4:00 PM
Georgia Southern
Niagara 4:00 PM
Saint Peters
Old Dominion 5:00 PM
Southern Miss 5:00 PM
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Ark-Little Rock 5:05 PM
Arkansas State
ULM 5:15 PM
Pittsburgh 5:30 PM
(17) Duke
(6) Tennessee 6:00 PM
(10) Kentucky
(24) Oklahoma 6:00 PM
(14) Texas
Nebraska Omaha 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
UC-Riverside 6:00 PM
Army 6:00 PM
Boston U
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Charlotte 6:00 PM
Florida Atlantic
Towson 6:00 PM
Hofstra 6:00 PM
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Albany 6:00 PM
Hartford 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
UNC-Wilmington 6:00 PM
William & Mary
Clemson 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Alabama 6:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
(23) Syracuse 6:00 PM
(8) Louisville
Missouri 6:00 PM
Iona 6:00 PM
Manhattan 6:00 PM
NC State 6:00 PM
(4) Notre Dame 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(22) Rutgers 6:00 PM
(5) Maryland 6:00 PM
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
Cleveland State
Wright State 6:00 PM
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
USC Upstate
North Florida 6:00 PM
Kennesaw St
Stetson 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Loyola-Maryland 6:05 PM
Holy Cross
Lamar 6:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Fla Gulf Coast 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt 7:00 PM
(18) Miss State
Western Ill
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
McNeese State 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Oral Roberts 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Louisiana Tech 7:00 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 7:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
Auburn 7:00 PM
Grand Canyon 7:00 PM
Illinois 7:00 PM
(15) Nebraska
(20) Iowa 7:00 PM
Utah Valley U 7:05 PM
Chicago State
Green Bay 7:05 PM
Ole Miss 8:00 PM
Portland State 8:00 PM
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
Montana State
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Weber State
Ohio State 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado 8:00 PM
Idaho State
BYU 9:00 PM
San Francisco
St Marys-CA 9:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Pacific 9:00 PM
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego 9:00 PM
Santa Clara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Long Beach St 10:59 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question