By late summer aquatic vegetation begins to take over the shorelines, points, and bays of many musky lakes. Once easily fishable weed lines and beds become a tangled jungle that many musky anglers find too frustrating to target. But these dense weed beds and mats are prime shallow water locations for late summer muskies as they provide shade and forage for both predators and prey. But, targeting these dense cover muskies takes some extra patience, presentation adjustments and a few mods to get your lures through the weedy jungle.
Very few lures can be worked effectively in extremely dense cover which limits the scope of presentations available to anglers. When fishing this thick cover, we often must make the most of lures that are specifically tweaked to operate in this tangled mess and safety pin style spinner baits seem the be the best option. My go to presentation in extremely thick vegetation is a Joe Bucher Slopmaster. I tweak just a handful of my Slopmaster to become extra sloppy Slopmasters.
To make this lure even more weed resistance I remove the secondary blade and beads by bending the arm and removing them. Secondly, I use small diameter heat shrink to shield the swivel from weed fouling. Another weed prevention tweak is affixing a permanent short leader that also has heat shrink covering the ends to reduce their chance of picking up weeds. Blade style can be adjusted dependent on just how thick the weeds are. My goal is to get the most thump and flash as possible so I generally start off with a 700 series Bucher blade but if the cover is extremely thick a willow leaf blade might be the best option.
Using a thinner diameter line like 55lbs. Beast Braid can also be an advantage when fishing dense weeds. This thinner diameter line seems to slice through weeds and cabbage a little better than standard 80 lbs. line. If I plan on focusing exclusively on thick cover, I will pair this thinner diameter line with a heavy or extra heavy rod which makes ripping the line and lure through the slop far easier.
When targeting this extremely dense slop short casts are the key. It is a forgone conclusion that every long cast will inevitably become fouled with weeds. With this in mind I focus on short casts that are anywhere from fifteen to twenty feet. I keep a keen eye out for any holes, voids or passages in the weeds that will allow for unobstructed casts available. However, some weed beds are so dense that the do not have any easy cast. If no “easy” casts are available throwing directly into the slop often is the only option. When this is the case, I throw my lure into the dense cover and allow it to fall through the weed canopy before I start reeling. Once the Slopmaster has broken through the surface weeds I begin retrieving with a low rod angle and reeling at a slow to medium pace. This slower pace allows more time for muskies to find the lure in the dense cover and a better feel of what the lure is doing.
Having a “feel” of what your lure is doing and how best to keep it going is the key to success when fishing in extremely dense cover. Each time you feel your lure run into weeds and cabbage you need to be able to quickly determine what the best move is to keep the action going. Thick weeds that instantly stop your blade may require a quick and hard downward rip to get things going again. Small tangles and slow downs might just take a light tap to get the Slopmasters blade operation a peak spin. Spending the time to get dialed in on how your lure feels in these conditions can alleviate the frustrations associated with fishing in these extremely sloppy conditions.
Regardless of all the tweaks and preparations you make you can expect for deal with weed fouled lures. Reeling in pile after pile of grass is just part of the slop grind and this is exactly why these are some of the least targeted late summer muskies. If you are looking to put a late summer trophy in the net sometimes you have to go where others fear to tread and the thickest densest slop might just be the ticket.