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Early Summer Pad Fishing

By Glenn Walker


Late May and the beginning of June has finally arrived and with the warmer weather and ever so increasing water temperatures, comes the increasing amount of vegetation in the water.  For me this is one of my favorite times of year, because I am able to fish lily pads before they get all mossed in for the summer.

These lily pad fields can develop in many places on your favorite lake or river.  Pads can develop in numerous backwater lakes and sloughs on rivers.  On lakes, pads will start to pop up in shallow bays and shallow flats.  Whether I am on a lake or river, the two key things I am looking for is water depth and baitfish.

There can be anywhere from 1 to 4 feet of water in the pads, but as long as the bass have access to deepwater near by, they will hold in those pads.  The other key component I look for in the pads is baitfish.  When you first pull up to a pad field listen for bluegills popping away underneath the pads.  Lily pads hold a large amount of food for bass too take advantage and lily pads offer them a perfect area to take cover and what to grab a minnow or small bluegill.

Some lily pad fields may be very large in size and could take a huge chunk of your day fishing.  That is why you need to dissect that area and determine what irregularities are present that the bass may be further relating to.  Certain things I look for are:

  • Other forms of cover, such as wood mixed in with the pads

  • Pockets of open water located with in the pads

  • When a section of the pads form a point or indentation

  • If there is a depth change in the water under the pads

My lure selection is based off of fishing the two different areas of the pads, the water in the pads and then the edge of pads.

This Bass was fooled by a Cane Toad worked
through lily pads.

When I am fishing the area in the pads, my favorite lure for this is a Gambler Cane Toad.  This soft plastic frog can be tossed into the heaviest of vegetation, but still be brought back to the boat weed free and it produces a gurgling sound unlike any other frog.  I rely on three colors of the Cane Toad, white, black, and green pumpkin swirl.  The black I use when it is cloudy, white when it is sunny and the swirl when it is overcast.  A major key to getting the bass into the boat with this presentation is using a large extra wide gap hook, such as the Eagle Claw 5/0 extra wide gap hook.

Lures that I throw both on the edge and in the pads are a swimming jig and flipping a creature bait.  The swim jig is nice because it can be brought up on top up the pads and then dropped off the edge.  I prefer a ¼ oz. jig in a bluegill pattern.  A wide variety of tail colors can be used and in my opinion one needs to experiment with tail colors until the bass tell you what they want. 

When I am flipping a creature bait, I am putting this bait right along the edge or sending it to open water pockets between the pads.  The new Gambler Ugly Otter has quickly become one of my favorite creature baits, because of its heavily ribbed body and the plastic is soft enough where the action is not limited, but does not tear after one fish.  I like Bowen’s silver and watermelon red for colors.  I prefer to use a 3/8 oz. sinker with a 4/0 Eagle Claw extra wide gap hook.

When it comes to fishing the edge of the pads, two lures I rely on heavily are a spinnerbait and buzzbait.  I like to start the morning out throwing a buzzbait on the edge of the pads, since the bass are more active and have not yet buried them selves beneath the pad mat.  A ¼ oz. buzzbait in white, black or chartreuse is what I like to throw.  After the morning topwater bite subsides, I switch to a spinnerbait that resembles shad or a bluegill.  The color selection all depends if the bass are feeding on baitfish or bluegills in the pads.  Regardless, I like to use a ¼ or 3/8 oz. spinnerbait in a willow leaf, Colorado blade set up.  I either throw my spinnerbait parallel to the pads or cast it into little pockets along the edge and then bring it back to the boat. 

When fishing any of these lures, I like to use a high speed reel because it is important to quickly turn the bass before it tangles you up in the tough pad stalks and the high speed reel also allows you to cover water quickly.  The Quantum Tour Edition ‘Burner’ with the 7.0:1 gear ratio allows me to cover water quickly and the spool allows me too put a large amount of line on it.  I like the 50 lb. Power Pro for these applications, but if the water clarity does not allow me too throw braid I opt for Seagur Inviz X Fluorocarbon.  Both of these lines give me the ability to hook the bass and get them into the boat. 

Good luck in your quest for the mighty bass!!