Seminole Bass Buried In The April Grass
A day on the water with high-school angler Bowynn Brown.
One of the things I most enjoy about the writing business is having the opportunity to fish with anglers who are much more talented on the water than I am. This statement certainly applies to this story while I had the pleasure of working with Bowynn Brown, of Bainbridge.
Bowynn is unlike my usual article subjects. He actually doesn’t have decades of experience out on the lake. Heck, he just got his drivers license at the end of February.
As a tenth grader at Bainbridge High, Bowynn has already made quite a name for himself in the high school fishing world. He and fishing partner Shane Dill have had several impressive finishes in high school tournaments this year, including an impressive seventh-place finish out of more than 180 boats in the Georgia High School Bass Nation tournament held on Lake Seminole this spring.
Throw in the fact that he is grandson to Kimbrell Brown and son to Clint Brown, two of the best anglers ever on Seminole, and it’s easy to see where Bowynn gets his fishing abilities. However, don’t think for a second he’s living in his family’s shadow. He’s got a style of fishing all of his own, and he was more than happy to share it with GON readers for this month’s Lake Seminole story.
I met Bowynn and his grandfather Kimbrell at Wingate’s Lunker Lodge in mid March for a morning of fishing on the lake. After launching, we made a short run to the mouth of the Flint River. Bowynn proceeded to drop the trolling motor and grab a rod rigged with a weedless frog.
“It’s a little early to fish the way I like to in April,” said Bowynn. “The fish are in a different place right now than they will be. The majority of fish in the lake are still in the spawning stage, and in another few weeks the bedding will be over for the most part. April’s warm temperatures start to send the fish up into the thick grass, and that’s the bite I really like.”
We spent the next few hours sight fishing for bedded fish, and Bowynn managed a few good bass with his frog on the edges of thick vegetation.
“It’s going to get better in mid April and into the month of May,” he said. “If you like fishing nasty, thick cover, Seminole is the place to be in the spring.”
Bowynn likes to keep his lure selection simple in the springtime and usually relies on a small selection of lures and tactics to get the job done. Here’s a breakdown of his methods.
Location is key in April, and Bowynn says that the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers are where anglers should focus their efforts this month.
Bowynn likes to put in at two primary launch points during the month of April in order to access both the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers. To fish the Flint, Bowynn puts in at Mac’s Point and runs 1 to 2 miles up the river. To key in on the Chattahoochee section, he launches at Trails End ramp and runs about a mile up the river.
“The fish are there in both rivers, you have to grind to catch them, but you don’t have to burn a bunch of gas,” said Bowynn.
Bowynn recommends fishing the oxbows of the rivers that are filled with hydrilla, keying in on the areas that the grass has topped out on the water’s surface. Bowynn uses his Lowrance electronics to locate water that is 8 to 15 feet deep, and he keys in on the irregularities in the grass.
“Weird points or edges of the grass, timber, whatever you see different, that’s what you want to flip to. If something looks unusual, you can bet there’s a bass on it,” Bowynn said.
Equipment is key. To winch a bass from the tangled jungle, Bowynn uses the big guns. He pairs a 7-6 Fitzgerald Hydrilla Grass Flipping rod with a high-speed 8.3:1 Lews reel and spools it with 65-lb PowerPro braid.
He threads on a bobber stop and a 1 3/4-oz. Flat Out Tungsten weight directly on top of a 6/0 VMC wide gap flipping hook. This keeps the weight tight to the hook and bait. His primary lure of choice is a Bruiser Baits Intruder or a Bass Addiction Mat Craw. Depending on water clarity, he will vary color from natural tones in clearer water to darker and bolder colors if the water is heavily stained.
“You have to have the right setup, and you have to put it in the right place,” said Bowynn. “Flipping is time consuming so you have to make good use of every minute. I only key in on the irregularities in the grass, and I focus all my efforts there. I may punch through some hydrilla next to a stick a couple times and then use the trolling motor to move down 30 yards before I flip again. You have to be disciplined enough to only make the high-percentage pitches.”
Bowynn also relies heavily on a frog for April fishing and says that it can get you the big bites you need to win tournaments, especially if you fish it in the right kind of grass.
“It seems like there are a hundred different types of grass on the lake, and knowing what kind to fish can be tough,” said Bowynn. “I really like that sludgy slimy hydrilla in April. It’s thick and the bass like to get up under it as the sun shines bright. It can offer up some excellent midday fishing.”
Bowynn uses a 7-4 Fitzgerald heavy-action Bryan Thrift Series rod with a high-speed 8.3:1 BB1 Lews reel spooled with 65-lb. PowerPro braid for his frog fishing.
“You’re gonna be making long casts with your frog, and hooksets are tough,” he said. “Then comes the job of trying to rip the bass up and out of the grass. It’s tough, and your equipment has to be, too.”
Bowynn says he has fished almost every brand of frog known to man, and lately he has relied heavily on the Booyah brand for most of his fishing. He prefers to use darker frogs and will alternate between both traditional or popping frogs to get the job done.
“If you see a bunch of bream activity in the grass, you want the popping frog to mimic that,” he said. “If you don’t see any bream, the standard frog works great, especially in the super thick nasty grass. It comes through really easy.”
Bowynn says the biggest mistakes he feels some anglers make when frog fishing is not keeping their frog moving and not working them fast enough.
“It’s a reaction thing, you can’t give the bass time to think,” said Bowynn. “If your frog is moving fast, the fish has to make a choice, and most of the time that choice will be to crush it.”
Bowynn uses some slack in his line and quick twitches of his rod tip to make his frog walk across the grass, occasionally pausing for half a second or so in small openings in the grass, but otherwise keeping his frog moving at a pretty good clip.
Another favorite tactic for covering lots of grass in a hurry is to throw a Bruiser Baits Super Swimmer. When fishing this weedless soft plastic jerkbait, work it like a buzzbait across the tops of the grass. He most often throws the bait in the Houdini color but admits they all seem to get bit the same.
For fishing the Super Swimmer, he uses a heavy-action 7-3 Fitzgerald rod. Paired with a 8.3:1 high speed Lews BB1 reel and 50-lb. braid, he can make long casts and still work fish away from cover once he gets a bite. He uses a 6/0 VMC screw-lock hook to hold his swim bait securely as he pulls it through the grass.
“For this type of fishing, you have to have a reel that can really sling it, covering water is crucial,” said Bowynn. “You also have to have that screw-lock hook or your baits going to start pulling down the hook after a few casts.”
Bowynn works the Super Swimmer a dozen different ways, varying his speed, retrieve and cadence of twitches until he figures out what the fish really want that day.
“It’s a super versatile bait,” said Bowynn “One second I’m burning it like a buzzbait, and the next I’m working it like a ChatterBait. Then I see a gap in the grass, and I let it fall like a fluke. You literally could fish this thing all day and catch fish in a pile of different places, a pile of different ways.”
Bowynn says that a swim jig can also be a good bet in April, particularly if warm weather sends bream shallow and gets them bedding early. He will use the same setup as with his Super Swimmer and opts for natural jigs that closely mimic bluegill.
“Most of the time May will be when you’re seeing bream shallow in the grass, but an extended period of warm weather can make that happen early. Definitely keep your eyes peeled just in case that happens,” said Bowynn
Bowynn likes to throw a Dirty Jigs swim jig best in the 1/4- or 1/2-oz. size, or he will pair the 1/2-oz. jig with a Bruiser Baits Crazy Craw. He says this pairing comes through the grass really well and the sharp hook on the jig penetrates really well.
Bowynn says that on rare occasions the bite can get tough on the lake, and that’s when he pulls out a little secret he’s learned tournament fishing on north Georgia lakes.
“I’m not afraid to break out a wacky rig when things get tough,” he said. “It works when nothing else does, and sometimes that little worm will get you some big bites.”
Bowynn uses a 7-foot Fitzgerald Stunner HD Series rod spooled with 20-lb. braid attached to a 2-foot leader of 10-lb. fluorocarbon. He ties on a 2/0 hook and wacky rigs a 5-inch Bruiser Baits Stick Worm. He fishes it on the edges of thick vegetation and let’s it sink slowly to get bites from lethargic bass.
With Bowynn’s strategies for April fishing, now is the time to hitch up the boat and head to Lake Seminole for some great fishing. Bowynn has one final tip for readers visiting the lake.
“Whatever you do, stop at River City Grill in Bainbridge before you leave. I promise the food will make any day on the water better, and you will be back for more fishing and more food,” he said.
To keep up with Bowynn and his fishing success, he welcomes GON readers to reach out to him on Facebook.
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