How to ... catch largemouth bass in the 'slop'

  • Updated: July 10, 2014 - 3:08 PM

An angler caught this largemouth bass from lake “slop” consisting of duckweed and lily pads.

Photo: Bill Marchel • Special to the Star Tribune,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

“Slop” is an angler’s term for the thick vegetation that carpets the surface of a lake, and it’s my favorite place to fish for bass. I’m thrilled by the heart-stopping strike of a bass as it engulfs a surface lure. I also enjoy the challenge of attempting to accurately cast surface lures to bass-holding cover, including patches of lily pads or duckweed.

During the retrieve I can visualize a lunker bass hiding beneath a layer of vegetation, its eyes tilted upward as it watches for unsuspecting prey. At any moment the water might explode as a bass chomps my lure. All of my senses are on full alert — eyes riveted to lure, ears attentively listening for feeding bass, arms taught and ready to set the hook.

Anglers who enjoy fishing the slop generally prefer to use some type of surface lure built to simulate a frog or mouse. It is essential that the lure is weedless — that is, forget any bait with treble hooks or even a single exposed hook, because they’ll only get tangled in the vegetation. ­Popular among bass tournament anglers are lures made by Scum Frog, SPRO and Snag Proof. These lures have two upturned hooks guarded by a soft plastic body.

A long, stout rod is needed to haul bass from thick weeds. I prefer a 7-foot, 10-inch heavy action casting rod. A lengthy rod not only allows an angler to horse bass from heavy vegetation, it also allows for longer casts. Most slop anglers use a casting reel loaded with small diameter, low-stretch braided lines in 30 to 50 pound test.

Where does a slop angler look for bass? My fishing buddies and I have discovered the best slop is usually found in mats of floating vegetation that extend from the farther reaches of a bay all the way to the shoreline. But don’t discount the isolated patches of cover surrounded by open water.

We also have found the best slop is relatively clear of submerged weeds under the floating mat. The ideal depth is anywhere from 2 to 5 feet, but there are no hard-and-fast rules.

Bass in the slop feed on a variety of prey from frogs and mice to crayfish and sunfish, even birds.

Yes, birds. I once witnessed a sora rail (a small wading bird about the size of a robin) get engulfed by a hungry bass as it scurried across a mat of weeds.

And when a bass hits a surface lure, the water usually explodes. But sometimes a hungry largemouth will just suck down the lure, creating a slurping sound similar to (only much louder) the kissing noise a sunfish makes when it sucks a bug off the water’s surface. Slop fishing makes for a back-to-nature experience, that’s for sure.

Bill Marchel, an outdoors writer and photographer, lives near Brainerd.

  • 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.


Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 82 4th Qtr 10:31
Charlotte 92
New York 27 2nd Qtr 5:49
Chicago 42
Golden State 14 1st Qtr 8:11
Milwaukee 7
Oklahoma City 8:00 PM
Denver 9:00 PM
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 3rd Prd
Carolina 1
Florida 2 2nd Prd 1:58
Montreal 2
Ottawa 2 3rd Prd
Toronto 0
Los Angeles 0 2nd Prd
Minnesota 2
Columbus 1 2nd Prd
St. Louis 0
Buffalo 8:00 PM
Dallas 9:00 PM
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 43 2nd Half 15:18
Notre Dame 7:49 PM
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 2nd Half 30:00
D.C. 0
Sporting Kansas City 1 2nd Half 30:00
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 1 2nd Half 40:00
Columbus 0
Portland 0 1st Half 7:00
Vancouver FC 1
Colorado 0 1st Half 35:00
Houston 0
Seattle 0 1st Half 40:00
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 61 2nd Half 3:26
(6) Tennessee 54
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