The Pulse

Slop Hopping Muskies 08/16/2014


Flat out my most consistent presentation year in and year out for putting numbers of muskies in my boat. Incredibly blunt, incredibly effective, yet very few people "subject" themselves to this presentation. I would define "Slop Hopping" as the art of fishing large plastic swimbaits extremely fast and erratically over very thick shallow vegetation. This article/blog will outline the lures, seasonal locations and many finer points that will quickly make this your top producing technique.



The Physical Aspect


This is not a presentation for the faint of heart. Ripping heavy baits where they are not meant to be fished can be physically grueling. Getting weeds every couple of casts is the norm so don’t get discouraged. The positive is that there is no other bait that presents itself in such a way that it will catch both active, neutral and inactive fish. The fact that you basically don’t get follows doing this is a clear sign of its effectiveness to get bites. Fish will either hit your bait or you won’t see them.

Use an 8’6" to 9’ very heavy action rod to maximize hookups and prevent fatigue. How fast is too fast? When fish are set up in slop that tops out at the surface we real as fast as we can, ripping baits equally fast with our rod tips up. They have no problem eating them.


Location


This is truly a presentation that is effective throughout the entire season. The only variable that changes is the slops proximity to deep water. Slop can be any type of weeds. In many lakes clear or stained the thickest weeds available will often be coontail or milfoil. Don’t get too held up on the type of weeds the thickest cover in the lake will likely always hold fish.

Throughout the summer months muskies utilize midlake structure. During midday hours when weather is less favorable fish will either sit on the breaks of the bars or in the thickest weed growth available on the tops of these bars/humps/points. There is no other presentation that allows you to trigger as many reaction strikes from shallow inactive fish with the ability to walk your lure down a break in front of deeper fish. If you are raising/catching fish on the tops of bars in the morning on topwaters then midday rolls around and your fish disappear chances are good that they are either buried in the slop or on the break. This isn’t just a presentation to pull out of your pocket when fish are inactive. A lot of the time slop hopping will out fish bucktails/topwaters even in the morning/evening hours.



Toward the end of summer the nights begin to cool and water temperatures follow. When the water reaches a consistent 70-72 degrees throughout the lake the slop bite can really crank up. This generally happens towards the end of August or September. Regardless of the weather conditions fish will be buried in slop. This time of year the fish will come back to many very shallow, sloppy bays that have been dead for much of the season. They move back to these sloppy bays to stay at their metabolic peak. Thick slop retains heat during these cool nights and mornings. Some of the best days during late summer to fish the slop are severe cold fronts for this exact reason. The rest of the lake may be dead but the slop can be on fire! The best locations are often bays that flat out at 7 to 3 feet with lots of coontail proximate to the basin.

When the water cools to the mid-60s to low 50s fish continue to use slop for this same reason however the location changes once again. This time of year, generally mid-September til mid-October, I utilize what I call "pocket spots". These spots are very small sloppy spots located on the top of breaks leading to the basin. Often times they will be inside corners of larger spots leading to the basin as the below picture shows. Although small these spots hold a great deal of potential.



The Tools


Like many of the most effective presentations lure selection is simple. Although it is simple the finer details are what makes the two or three lures I like to use very effective. So here they are; Chaos Tackles Madussa, Magnum Bulldawg and Shallow Magnum Bulldawg. These three lures have proven themselves beyond question as the aces of this technique. The Madussa is the go to the majority of the time. With three tails it doesn’t run as deep as a Mag Dawg yet with a fast sink-rate it can be worked very fast at 2-7 feet down. When fishing slop that is 1 foot to 3 feet down the Madussa is perfect. It is also great for fishing steep breaks with slop on the top because it can be slowed down and worked down a break. The Magnum Bulldawg is the go to when fishing slop that tops out 4 to 8 feet down. The sole reason for fishing a heavier bait in these shallow depth ranges is entirely speed related. Ripping the bait as fast and as hard as you can will force fish to react to this presentation, which is the entire premise of this technique and why it is so consistently effective. The Magnum Bulldawg is also the most suitable bait for fishing late in the fall when fishing the edge of slop with a very steep break to let’s say 15 feet. Lastly the Shallow Bulldawg. I would probably group the Double Dawg in the same category because it too can be fished right under the surface. When fishing extremely thick shallow slop that is nearly to the surface these are the tools to use. Don’t be concerned at all if you get weeds 1/3 casts, this presentation still out fishes anything else the majority of the time. In scenarios where your casts are staying over the slop the entire retrieve the shallow stuff if the way to go.

Slop hopping has proven to be so productive in my boat that odds are good someone is always doing it from midsummer on. Once again there is no other presentation I have found to get fish to bite regardless of their mood. Scouting locations for the thickest vegetation and its relation to deep water pays huge dividends. Keep in mind the time of year, water temperature, depth of slop along with proximity to deep water and you will soon find your aching shoulders and back to be irrelevant