Hackney’s mat punching bait in August

When August and its smothering heat arrives, bass pro Greg Hackney of Gonzales puts up his gloved hands and starts punching, trying to score a knockout. 

He goes with a reliable technique and his favorite artificial lure for punching dense vegetation that creates mats: a Strike King Rage Punch Bug. The 3-inch, soft-plastic creature bait is fished under a heavy weight, usually a 1½-ounce Strike King Tour Grade tungsten weight, pokes through the roof, bass eat it and come out fighting.

“Punching mats is what I like to do,” he said. “Punching mats is a year-round technique in our area. Before I got on the (pro) trail, I caught them punching mats … prespawn and post-spawn. Probably my favorite time to fish mats is January and February.

“It’s designed to (punch) mats. There’ll be so many mats, so much vegetation growing up. Those fish like the shade in August. Lilies, hyacinths, grasses — it doesn’t make any difference what it is. That’s where fish spend so much of their time, under mats. I spend most of the day fishing the thickest cover I can find. It’s natural for them to be there.”

(Photo courtesy fishusa.com)

Unique design

The Punch Bug, he said, is the best mat-punching soft plastic he’s encountered because it penetrates mats easily due to its design. He chuckled and likened its shape to a “li’l weenie with crawfish claws.” It’s thick and has a ribbed body, a plus because it can be rigged on a big hook, and the point won’t come out as sometimes happens because of all the rubbing and pulling when punching, he said. A 6/0 Hack Attack Heavy Cover flipping hook is important for a high hookup ratio, he said, because with a heavier weight, that isn’t always the case.

Hackney’s top colors are black/blue, which is hard to beat in Louisiana, he said, plus black neon, Okeechobee craw and blue. Occasionally, when there are shad present, he’ll use white.

Hackney ties a Punch Bug to 65-pound Gamma Tourque Spectra braid with the 1½-ounce weight and 80-pound braid with a heavier weight. He wants a fast fall in the summer, unlike during winter months when he wants a slower descent and uses a ¾-ounce weight.

The rest of his punching combo includes a 7-foot-11 Hack Attack flipping stick with a Lew’s Super Duty 300 Speed Spool.

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Don Shoopman
About Don Shoopman 384 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.

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