John's Journal...

Weed Whacking in August for Bass with George Cochran

Day 1: Bass Pro George Cochran Fishes Grass for Bass in Late Summer

Editor’s Note: Regardless of where and when you fish, if you locate any type of water vegetation in that body of water, you can bet you'll find bass in the grass, which provides a hiding place for baitfish, cover, shade and oxygen and acts like a fortress against anglers. August and September bass fishing always means plenty of grass to fish. I'll always remember the most-unusual grass-fishing strategy I've ever heard of when George Cochran of Hot Springs, Arkansas, won the 1996 Bassmasters Classic on Lay Lake near Birmingham, Alabama. He names fishing a bait too fast as the biggest mistake anglers make when fishing top-water lures around grass.

Click for Larger ViewThe surface temperature had climbed to 95 and even 110 degrees on Lay Lake in August, 1996 during the Bassmasters Classic. Conventional wisdom said that anglers would discover the most and the biggest bass in deep water, on ledges between 15- and 30-feet deep where they could stay cool and feed. But in pre-practice a month earlier, Cochran had pinpointed a small, shallow creek that he could enter and motor to its back only by running his Ranger boat at full throttle and getting the boat up on-plane. Once he shut his engine down, the boat would sink to the bottom in only 2 to 3 feet of water before lifting itself to float 2 to 6 inches up off the bottom. To move his boat around in this large bay in the back of this small creek, Cochran had to use his trolling motor on low speed and bring the blades of the motor up to within inches of the surface. He totally raised his big outboard out of the water.

Click for Larger View"The entire bay was only 1- to 3-feet deep," Cochran remembers, "but there were grass and stumps in this bay. Although the water in this bay was really muddy, the bass were holding there." Cochran knows he won't have nearly as much trouble taking shallow-water bass as he will deep-water bass suspended and feeding on schools of baitfish. "The grass and stumps in this small bay gave the bass plenty of cover to hide behind," Cochran reports. "Since the water was dingy, the light and the heat didn't penetrate deep down into the water."

Because the bass in this shallow bay fed actively on shad, Cochran chose a spinner bait the color of the shad. "One of the advantages to fishing a spinner bait is that you can make extremely-long casts with that lure, which means you can position your boat to keep from spooking the bass," Cochran emphasizes. "When the bass attacks the bait, even at long range, you can set the spinner bait's hook on the bass fairly quickly and much qClick for Larger Viewuicker than you can if you're fishing a plastic worm."

Click for Larger ViewCochran had learned the shallow channel's route into and out of the creek weeks before he fished the Classic. My son, John Phillips, Jr., Cochran's press observer on the first day of the Classic, told me, "Dad, I watched a black Labrador retriever wade out into the middle of this bay, and the bottom of his belly never got wet. Mr. Cochran was catching bass in the shallow-water grass 10- to 20-yards from the Labrador."

How to Bass Fish Like a ProCatch the Biggest Bass In Any LakeTo learn more about how to fish for bass, click the titles for the new books by John E. Phillips, “How to Bass Fish Like a Pro” and “Catch the Most and Biggest Bass in Any Lake” , or go to, and type in the names of the books to buy them. Too, you can download a Kindle app for free and buy the book from Amazon to read it on your iPad, Smartphone or computer.

Tomorrow: George Cochran Says to Spit on the Grass to Catch the Bass

Check back each day this week for more about "Weed Whacking in August for Bass with George Cochran"

Day 1: Bass Pro George Cochran Fishes Grass for Bass in Late Summer
Day 2: George Cochran Says to Spit on the Grass to Catch the Bass
Day 3: Fish Worms in the Grass to Catch Bass with George Cochran
Day 4: George Cochran Fishes Spinner Baits and Crankbaits in the Grass for Bass
Day 5: Jigs in the Grass Catch Late Summer Bass with George Cochran

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Entry 678, Day 1