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

  • Article by: BILL MARCHEL SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
  • Updated: July 10, 2014 - 3:08 PM
hide

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Minnesota 94 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Houston 93 FINAL
Boston 87
Portland 99 FINAL
Atlanta 105
Sacramento 90 FINAL
Cleveland 101
Toronto 127 FINAL
Brooklyn 122
Dallas 93 FINAL
Miami 72
LA Clippers 103 FINAL
New Orleans 108
Golden State 100 FINAL
Utah 110
Chicago 93 FINAL
Phoenix 99
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Nashville 0 FINAL
Colorado 3
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Vancouver 5
Chicago 4 FINAL
Anaheim 1
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 57 FINAL
Canisius 63
Brown 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Siena 79 FINAL
Manhattan 87
Marist 65 FINAL
Niagara 61
Dartmouth 51 FINAL
Penn 58
Oregon 68 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Yale 63 FINAL
Columbia 59
Monmouth 60 FINAL
Fairfield 59
IUPUI 59 FINAL
Western Ill 63
Oregon State 34 FINAL
Arizona 57
Kent State 55 FINAL
Buffalo 80
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 67 FINAL
Providence 59
Cornell 65 FINAL
Brown 52
Columbia 47 FINAL
Yale 55
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
Drexel 64
Penn 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 39
Elon 60 FINAL
James Madison 89
(19) Princeton 96 FINAL
Harvard 46
(9) Florida State 82 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Siena 62
Richmond 54 FINAL
Rhode Island 50
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Southern Ill 64
Georgetown 52 FINAL
DePaul 93
Villanova 75 FINAL
Marquette 59
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
Xavier 65 FINAL
Creighton 74
Bradley 58 FINAL
Illinois State 55
Missouri State 89 FINAL
Drake 94
Arizona 48 FINAL
Utah 62
(11) Arizona State 68 FINAL
Colorado 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

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

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close