Lily pads are typically great visual indicators of fertile fishing grounds in the late summer and early fall. They offer shade throughout the day, draw the smaller prey in to feed on the insects and organisms that associate with this type of vegetation and give bass countless places to hide so they can ambush said prey.
There are some downsides to fishing lily pads though. The thicker they are, the harder they are to fish. And efficiency isn’t the only issue, they’re also hard to get fish out of. But there are several baits that are particularly well suited for fishing lily pads. And today, we’re going to delve into a few of those.
One thing to keep in mind throughout these bait selections is their use with braided line is recommended. Braid will cut through the lily pads and their stems better than monofilament and fluorocarbon.
Most of these baits are also moving baits fished at or near the surface, because they give you a better chance of getting the fish out— as compared to a slow moving worm on bottom for instance. A bass could pick up a worm and swim a few feet with it prior to the angler detecting the bite, which leads to having to pull the fish through and out of more cover and betters the fish’s chances of breaking free.
A swim jig works well in lily pads for the aforementioned reasons. It’s a great bait to use with braid because it has a strong single hook, it can be fished along the surface or just below and it also comes through cover really well. Finding a bait that will dip down into the pads but also ride up and over them as well is critical when building an arsenal for fishing lily pads. Swimjigs can also be used to mimic both shad and bream, two of the main types of prey you’ll find near this type of cover.
A buzz toad is great again for the same reasons. But it also gives you a bait with more drawing power than most, generating a good bit of noise with its kicking feet. Pad fields often stretch on for dozens if not hundreds of yards. Bass are better able to find a bait in these expansive areas if the lure causes a bit of a ruckus. A buzz toad does just that, and thus gives you a bait you can cover a lot of water with effectively.
Hollow body frog
A hollow body frog allows you to slow down a bit, as compared to the toad, swimjig and some other baits. This is a bait you should shift to if you’re having fish wake or swirl on a buzz toad for instance, but not actually eat the bait. These are signs that you’re in a productive area, but for whatever reason the bass aren’t quite aggressive enough to eat the continuously moving bait. Walking a frog slowly through these areas is often enough to get the bass to commit.
Single swimbaits rigged weedless are also great baits for fishing through lily pads. These baits again work well with braid and come through cover really well. So you can wake a swimbait just below the surface, and can do it a little slower than you can a heavier swimjig with a sleeker profile. This is another great bait to shift to when bass are blowing up on a buzz toad or even a swimjig, but won’t quite commit.
Stick bait with a tail spin
Taking even a step further towards the finesse side of things, using a tail spinner with a soft plastic stickballs works really well when the fish won’t commit to any of these other tactics. If the bass will bite this the best, why not start with it? The other baits have the slight advantage in pads, if the fish will bite them, because they can be fished on heavier line and gear. You’ll need to go with a smaller rod, lighter braid and a thinner wire hook to fish this way well, which makes wrestling a 5-pounder out of thick cover a little trickier.
You can also flip pad edges, fish spinnerbaits and buzzbaits through sparser pads and fish pads with a whole host of other lures and techniques. This list isn’t exclusive list, it’s simply meant to give you a good bait selection to fish through dense pads when they’re at their thickest in the summer and early fall.
Take a few of these out to fish any lily pads you can find locally and you’re almost certain to have a few memorable bites, that you can hopefully convert to memorable fish catches.