November 17, 2010
Bass Pro Dave Wolak on Dead Grass and My Poor Flipping Ability
By Joe Cermele
This week, I had the chance to chase largemouth on the Potomac River with bass pro Dave Wolak. It was cold and breezy, and though the section of river we hit is known to hold an astonishing amount of bass, they were astonishingly tough to pattern. Despite pounding every likely late-season haunt, only a couple fish opened their mouths. But it didn’t matter to me. If you spend a day fishing with a guy like Dave and don’t come away a smarter fisherman with some new tricks, something’s wrong. Here are a few pointers I gleaned from this Elite Series angler.
If It’s Brown, Flush It Down
Dave pointed out that the Potomac is known for its vast grass flats, and sure enough, we motored our way across great expanses of milfoil and hydrilla gently waving in the current. However, seeing that it’s late in the season, most of the grass was brown and dying. Now, had I been out there alone, I would have looked at that grass and thought, gee, what great structure. Normally I’d be right, but according to Dave, if the grass is brown, boogie out of there. “Bass and baitfish don’t like to hold in dead grass,” he told me. “It still looks good, but because it’s no longer producing oxygen, the fish don’t use it. It’s pretty much a waste of time to fish it.”
Throw Low and Turn It Around
Dave and I spent most of the morning flipping jigs around hard structure, such as concrete walls and rocky channel edges. About an hour in, I noticed a major difference between my presentation and his. I think I said something to the effect of: “Dave, why is it that your jig lands with as much commotion as a lamb settling on an oversized pillow, and my jig hits the water like a stick of C4 explosive?” First he laughed. Then he explained that it was all about angle and direction. “I’m throwing lower to the water than you are,” he said. “But that’s only part of it. Just before my jig touches down, I pull back on the line slightly and change the jig's direction. It helps stop it from splashing. I do it so much it became a natural reflex.” I started flipping his way and downgraded from C4 to an M-80. I’m getting there.