Other factors to consider

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Pad perspective: Bass legend Larry Nixon always views a pad field as bass-friendly cover, but he knows the game isn’t always deep inside. On windy days, particularly during the hotter months, a pad field’s deep edge offers the equivalent of an air-conditioned lounge, as waves gather oxygen and combine it with the plants’ natural output. Baitfish dig, bass dig it.

Also, take a peak toward the back of your pads to see if they grow right to the bank. Often, you’ll find a ribbon of inhabitable depth between the pads and the bank where a few chunky ones might set up shop. Feeling pretty secure with a wall of greenery in front of their noses, these fish generally go unmolested, so they usually respond aggressively to well-placed baits.

And if you’re fishing from shore, these little gems can offer an easy shot at glory. The key, of course, is that stealthy approach. Hit it with a long cast to see if you can, at least, get one to move and then target accordingly. An unweighted Senko can be deadly here.

Current candy: When those hydroelectric generators kick up and water starts moving, the reservoir’s fish will move to key feeding areas. Often, that means emerging from the thickest areas of grass or wood to position on the points, cuts and turns where they have just enough cover to feel good about themselves, while sitting in prime belly-filling spots.

Same deal goes for those spatterdock fields clogging the mouths of side creeks. Sure, you could conceivably find a bass pretty much anywhere, but the aggressive ones know their best deal awaits on the edges where food passes closely.

And don’t overlook wind current as a player here. When deeper cuts divide massive grass fields into separate chunks, a blustery day turns those dividing lanes into funnels. Tracing the edges with a frog, swimbait or bladed jig is a good way to get your elbow dislocated.

Laydowns figure here, too; and with dual logic. First, Russ Lane says you can expect the most aggressive fish to position high in the tree’s outer reaches when they’re ready to feed (river current, or tidal), so peppering the perimeter and gradually pressing inward is a good bet.

“This is true in conditions that are conducive for a larger strike zone – wind, clouds, early morning or low light conditions,” Lane said. “Also, when you’re using a brightly colored bait that would get a fish’s attention from a farther distance to draw them out of the cover to bite.”

But even if current’s not a significant factor, you’ll miss a lot of opportunities by going straight to the trunk. Some will say that’s where the biggest fish hold and maybe there’s some logic there; but the commotion of tangling with such a fish – successfully, or not – will likely spook all the neighbors. Working outside-in, at least, gives you a shot at fish in various positions.

Light show: Jason Christie offers this grass bed insight: “A lot of times, at daybreak, those fish won’t be in the mat; they’ll be roaming around the perimeter,” Christie said. “They’re talking advantage of that low light to chase shad out in the open. Once the sun gets higher, they’ll move back into the mat.”

You’ll find the same behavior around standing timber, especially on lakes with blueback herring, where chasing those meaty meals is a day-starting opportunity the bass won’t miss.

With any such scenario, consider the impacts of sky conditions. Bass are accustomed to those early and late feeding periods because that’s what typical photo periods permit. However, cloudy or overcast skies – maybe approaching frontal systems, or the tropical mayhem common to the southeast – will extend the perimeter game.

Not to say you won’t find a few creatures of habit that simply follow a daily schedule and return to the thick stuff even without solar prompting; but that doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Fish the conditions, not the clock.

On the fall: From flood water fluctuations to the daily ebb and flow of tidal fisheries, declining depths inherently squeeze fish out of draining vegetation; but there’s more at play here than compacting habitats. Grass and other shallow vegetation filters falling water, so whether it’s the predicable tidal action or a declining flood waters, expect heightened opportunities where that cleaner zone emerges.

Seasonal breakdown: Looking ahead to the fall season, the grass mats that will provide cozy post-spawn through summer digs will eventually start to fragment. Even with plenty of interior density remaining, ragged edges will continue thinning and, before long, you’ll have a patchwork of isolated grass clumps stringing the perimeter.

This is presents a dangerous gauntlet for reaction baits like swim jigs, bladed jigs, buzzbaits and spinnerbaits; but those mat fragments also help the flipping bite. Treat each one like a stump and you’ll often find yourself pleased with the results