By Dustin Wilks
Imagine this for a minute….the weather is warming, spring is in the air, and the fish will be biting. You’ve dreamt all week of going fishing and slamming some fish on moving baits. Then, bam! Instead of that bait-stopping-bite you get a bite-stopping cold front. The cold front hits water hard, dropping it by eight degrees in two days and you are left scratching your head. It seems there are no bass anywhere and this happens every March when fronts roll through.
This is when the forgotten March technique of punching a Culprit Incredi-Punch in heavy mats of weeds and debris can come into play. March is when bass in Florida, preparing for the spawn, often have to take shelter in a shallow mat when conditions begin to deteriorate.
The limiting factors here are obviously the habitat and depth. If there are no mats, then that shelter is off the table. But even if it there appear to be no mats, in the course of a day, you will likely come across some sort of debris pile blown into a cove, or floating leaves from rising water, or a beaver hut. So it seems fishing mats are rarely off the table, just limited. There is nothing worse than to know a bass is hiding and not being able to reach it. So for those reasons, I recommend keeping one rod rigged for punching and ready to go at all times since it is such a highly probable location for a bass. Even if you only get a few flips with it, the payoff can be huge.
The bass can just swim a little deeper, but I’ve found once bass make their commitment to shallow spawning areas, they don’t like to leave, so they seek out the heaviest stuff they can find after a front.
One of the very best baits for this scenario is the Culprit Incredi-Punch. This is a crawfish bait that’s best for getting into really heavy vegetation. This bait is very streamlined without bulky appendages and it holds a big hook well. I’ll pair this with an Eco-Pro Tungsten flipping weight in 1 oz., or up to 2 ozs. depending on the thickness of the weeds or debris. For every-day rigging, I keep a 1 1/4 oz., which is good in most mat situations that spring up.
I fish the heavy rig on an 8-ft. flipping rod and 65-lb. braid most of the time.
So when you are rigging up for your dream fishing trip this month, don’t forget the big stick with a heavy weight!