Fishing for bass punching heavy grass on Lake Kissimee targeting fish set up in thick cover during the winter pre-spawn season. As a fishing technique flipping mats is one of my favorite and it can lead to crazy days like this when fish group up in areas moving in to spawn. Setups are simple – a heavy action fishing rod over 7’6″, a well built fishing reel, straight shank hook, heavy tungsten weight, and braided fishing line. We needed to downsize when it came to lure choice as well. Fish were in a negative mood and often short striking the bait as it fell through the cover. When that happens my go to soft plastic is a Gambler BB Cricket – super compact and perfect for enticing winter fish feeling too much pressure or reaction to cold weather.

Weather was partly sunny lows in the 60’s highs in the mid 70’s. Fish are in a winter staging pattern moving up to spawn when the moon and the weather get right.

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Fishing tackle, bait and gear in the vid:

Reel Shimano Curado

Dobyns Champion Extreme MH 795

Hack Attack Flipping Hook

Power Pro Slick 65lbs Braid

Gambler BB Cricket

Reins Tungsten

Gambler Why Not

Pegs for your weight (these are the best)

All the camera stuff, the drone, everything you need to shoot vids!

things are chillin out, the grass is dying, and the shad aren’t too far behind – schooling up for a final rally.  from fall thru early spring – especially on lakes with decent shad populations – one of my standards is a square bill style crank.  there are a bunch out there and they all have their own little nuance but in general i separate them by those that have a truly “square bill” and those that are slightly rounded at the tips.  my overall favorite falls into the rounded tips category: the lucky craft bds.  the rounded tips tend to give the bait a tighter wobble and a better ability rip grass.  although they work reasonably in wood, if i’m mainly fishing stumps or docks etc i’ll move towards the old rc 1.5 or 2.5 that provide a more cornered bill (it just deflects off the cover better and provides a bit more protection from getting snagged).

i tend to fish them in a sort of a fused trap/spinnerbait type approach.  for me they fill the gap of a finesse style ripping bait as well as a finesse style  spinnerbait that i’m able to pull thru some fairly thick cover even with trebles.  there are a variety of ways to toss it but if i had to pick one setup for most of my applications i’d go with a 7 foot medium glass rod, a 6:2:1 geared reel, spooled up with 15# flourocarbon.  there are obvious exceptions to the rule however, say for instance if you were throwing to bank laydowns you’d probably want to shorten and stiffen up the rod a bit (go to a 6′-6’6″ graphite rod – maybe even switch over to mono to float the bait up more).  in general however the glass combo increases hook ups on those more subtle bites (as you’ll see in the vids below) and the flourcarbon slows the baits rise slightly as well as offereing a bit lower stretch which can be integral when it comes to post-frontal/cold water fish.

here’s a playlist of square bill fish from winter thru spring.  if you watch all the vids you’ll see a bit of a pattern, nearly all the fish come off a reaction  bite – usually after ripping the bait off grass or wood.  some of the best water for this applications are grass/wood/stump flats adjacent to a drop/river channel.