Here’s a question I get from anglers surprisingly often: Is it possible to spend an entire day working just one grass mat? The short answer is yes. The long answer is you have to be willing to do some work, tailor your approach, and be patient. The main thing you have to understand is that a whole day on a single mat is process, not a slam-dunk game-over-in-two-minutes type deal. Here’s how it works.
Although the action can happen quickly simply due to the fact that the fish may be most aggressive as soon as you show up, it’s really best to think long-term. Therefore, it’s best to start by working the perimeter of the mat first without really disturbing the middle. Any time you can pull fish from the edge without disturbing the center (thus alerting fish deeper in the mat to your presence) is a good thing. But that’s where most anglers quit. They do a quick drive by and hope for the homerun.
The first thing a good mat fisherman does is kill the trolling motor. To a bass living in the mat, a trolling motor that’s plowing around chopping up grass sounds like a Blackhawk Helicoptor landing in the living room. They instantly turn off. That’s why when you need to position yourself within a mat, opt for the gas motor. Yes, I said gas. Trolling motors don’t propel the boat fast enough to let you glide far into the center of a mat. Propulsion from the rear does a much better job. I start about 30 yards away from the mat and point the bow like a spear right where I want to end up within the grass. Give it enough throttle to glide straight with the trim down. Avoiding making a big wake is the key, and that usually lands somewhere between 6-8 MPH. About 10-15 feet from the edge of the mat, quickly cut the motor and trim it all the way up. After the boat slips into the mat with little restriction, wait about 5 minutes for the mat to settle before you start fishing. Believe it or not, this gliding entry with gas spooks the fish a lot less than grinding your way in with the trolling motor. Once the mat has settled, I move around slowly and stealthily using a paddle or push pole. Sound like work? It is. But this approach lets me really work a mat over, and ultimately catch more and bigger fish than I would running and gunning mat edges all day.