Big Lazer’s Shallow Bass Bite In The Grass

Even in July, Terry Lee shows how bass can be caught off shallow grass at this Talbot County Public Fishing Area lake.

Brad Gill | July 1, 2005

Oh boy… it’s July. I’m going to make a prediction about those of you who are going to fish public waters this month: Ninety percent of your casts will be with either a deep-diving crankbait or a Carolina rig. Have fun.

Terry Lee of Griffin said he’s fishing shallow grass all day — early with buzzbaits, Trick Worms and Flukes, and later on he’s burning Rat-L-Traps. Now that sounds more like it!

This shallow bite will be going on this month at Big Lazer Public Fishing Area (PFA) in Talbot County. Terry runs Lil’ Water Bassin’ Jonboat Circuit, a jonboat tournament trail that fishes Big Lazer, Blalock, Griffin Reservoir, High Falls, Horton, Juliette, J.W. Smith, Kedron and Meriwether.

Big Lazer is a state-owned PFA. The 195-acre lake opened in 1989 and is full of grass, standing timber, and brushpiles. It’s a good lake to catch keeper-sized largemouths. WRD Fisheries shocked the lake in the fall of 2004 and spring of 2005, and 32.5 percent of the fish were between 15- to 20-inches long. This class of fish represented the highest percentage of shocked fish.

Terry Lee said that even during the hot summer months you can catch keeper largemouths in Big Lazerʼs shallow grass.

Terry said Big Lazer PFA is one of his favorite summertime lakes to fish because the area has so much grass — pond weed and lyngbya — around its banks. To a pond manager these grasses may be a headache to control, but for some fishermen it makes fun targets to chunk bass lures at.

“A little bit of pond weed I don’t have any problem with, but Lyngbya is that thick, matty stuff. Grass carp don’t do much with the Lyngbya, so it’s harder to control,” said Brent Hess, WRD fisheries biologist.

A lot of the matty grass you see on top is dead grass that has broken off and floated to the top.

“It’s starting to creep up more than we like. We may have to do something with it over the next couple of years,” said Brent.

Bass stay in this grass all summer because fish hatched this spring hide there. It’s bad for largemouths because they have to look harder to find a meal. However, if you’re a skinny-water angler you can fish shallow all summer.

“This grass is a lot tougher to fish than hydrilla, but it tends to hold more bass when it’s hot,” said Terry Lee. “It grows from the bank on out to about seven-feet deep.”

Terry fishes only a third of the lake, which happens to be the southern end. Terry’s starting point is marked on the map above.

“When I first started fishing Big Lazer I just never really caught anything until I got to that upper end,” said Terry. “Now I just head up there first thing and stay. You take the time of year, and whatever the fish are doing, you can find them somewhere in that section of the lake. That channel drops into 13 feet. First thing in the morning in the summer I’ll usually run up to that point and throw a buzzbait.”

Buzzbaits are deadly around the grass early in the morning. After that a Rat-L-Trap burned over the grass tops will produce.

On Big Lazer you can launch a boat with any size motor, however, you must operate at idle-speed only. For some reason Terry’s 9.9 outboard wouldn’t crank, so we were forced to fish our way to this upper end. Right around the corner from the boat ramp I had a pretty good fish swirl at a double-Fluke rig. We didn’t get another strike until we reached Terry’s usual starting point. By that time he was throwing a weightless Trick Worm.

“I’m fishing it about half dead, letting it fall down in the grass,” said Terry. “My favorite color is junebug, but I’ll throw a green pumpkin. I throw it on a 3/0 Gamakatsu Extra Wide Gap hook on a spinning reel. I’ll put a rattle in that Trick Worm.”

Terry also throws a Bang-O-Lure on top of the grass.

“I really like something that’s going to make some noise and draw them out of the grass pockets,” said Terry. “I like firetiger since I feel like bream are the primary forage for bass in the lake.”

Brent Hess with Fisheries assured me that bream are the No. 1 item on the menu for Big Lazer bass.

“We managed it to have bream as the main prey and bass the predominant predator,” said Brent.

Crappie have found their way into the lake, and the bass also feed on the few shiners that are in the lake.

We headed into the second to last pocket on the eastern side. Some cloud cover meant I was switching back and forth between a Fluke, Trick Worm and a Spittin’ Image while Terry kept rotating between a buzzbait, Trick Worm and a Bang-O-Lure.

I had walked my Spitting Image almost back to the boat when a 2-lb. largemouth swirled at the topwater plug but missed. Pausing it for a second, we both watched as the bass came back to try and eat it again. That time he found hooks, a net and a livewell.

A Carolina-rigged Trick Worm or Brush Hog in the grass works good during midday. Use a 1/16-oz. weight and an 18-inch leader. Terry sprays all his plastics with garlic spray.

A few minutes later it started to rain. Terry went straight for a rod he hadn’t picked up yet. Attached to it was a Rat-L-Trap.

“When the weather gets real hot, a rain will really turn these fish on,” said Terry. “I like to throw that Red Zone Rat-L-Trap. It’s a suspending bait that I’m burning on a 6.3.1 (reel), and it’ll run about eight-inches deep. With that suspending bait, when you burn it, the bait will turn over on its side and run at a 45-degree angle. The fish can’t stand it. Hardly anyone throws a Rat-L-Trap in a foot of water. It’s a good midday bait, too.”

Terry will make a few casts deep while he’s on the upper end of Big Lazer. His favorite area is at the mouth of where the two most southerly creeks come together. You’ll find brushpiles on this area, which is marked on the map.

“If they’re not turning on to reaction baits, I’ll move out to that channel edge and throw a Carolina-rigged Trick Worm or Brush Hog,” said Terry. “Once I move out deeper I think it’s real important a bait have some orange in it. I take a green pumpkin Brush Hog and dye the tail orange with Spike-it dye. A regular green pumpkin Brush Hog won’t stand up to the one with orange. I spray all my plastics with garlic scent spray.”

To avoid collecting too much grass between casts, Terry prefers a short Carolina rig with a 16-inch leader, and a 1/16-oz. black brass weight, and a glass bead.

When you get up to Terry’s fishing area this month, fish all the pockets and cuts. They’ve all got grass in them, and any cast can yield a strike. If you can’t make it until later summer, Terry’s plan of attack would still be to go shallow.

“I won a two-day tournament one year here in August,” said Terry. “The fish were super shallow.”

Terry and I boated four fish in seven hours of fishing, two of which were keepers. We missed quite a few and saw several fish breaking shallow in the grass. If you decide to fish there, you’ll need to have a WMA stamp and sign in at the board on the left as you come into the parking lot.


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