When summertime rolls around, my thoughts turn to topwater for bass fishing.
While 90-degree days under bright sunny skies with the countryside wrapped in sweltering humidity might not be the best time for chasing bass on top, it is certainly a good option.
The explosion of submerged weeds in most of our bass waters is what triggers my desire to wrestle with chunky largemouths in the slop.
You see, there are some bass, certainly not all in the lake, that will take up residence in the almost impenetrable jungle of aquatic growth.
Winching them out of this boars’ nest requires a whole new set of rods, reels, line, lures and just plain old elbow grease.
Of course, you don’t have to be in the middle of the equivalent of an aquatic cow pasture to successfully use topwater techniques. There’s a period of time just before the weeds hit the surface that can be good too. Also don’t overlook woody structure along shorelines or any ambush point in shallow water where a hungry bass might take up residence.
If I had to pick the best time of day to take bass on topwaters, it would have to be that hour before dawn and that hour after sunset. But to limit your topwater presentations to only those
times would be a mistake.
Bass can be taken on topwaters any time of the day. And not only in the summertime. Believe it or not, I’ve caught ‘em in November in the middle of a snowstorm by “walkin’ the dog” with a big Zara Spook.
So what’s my favorite topwater bait? I don’t have any. What is recognized as the “go to” topwater bait for bass? There isn’t any.
Here’s the deal.
There are a huge variety of topwater baits designed to catch bass, both smallies and largemouth. Each has their time and place.
You’ve got “walking” baits like the Zara Spook. You’ve got poppers like the Hula Popper. You’ve got prop baits like the Tiny Torpedo. You’ve got chuggers like the Pop-R. You’ve got minnow baits like the Rapala. You’ve got spinnerbaits that can be “buzzed” on the surface. You’ve got buzz baits. You’ve got crawlers like the Jitter Bug. You’ve got a whole array of plastic frogs and rats. And there are probably some others that escape me right now.
The thing is, you’ve got to know the best times to use each type of bait.
If I’m fishing relatively calm waters and need to cover a lot of water fast, I’ll probably choose a walking bait or a spinnerbait or a buzz bait.
If I’ve got to pull a bass out of an ambush point like a sunken log or a pocket on the cattails, I’ll probably reach for a popper. You can fish them in one spot for a long time if you do it right.
If there’s a little chop on the surface and you need to make a little noise, I’ll probably go with a prop bait. The secret to prop baits is to not overfish them. By that I mean a little prop splash goes a long ways. The props make a sound and the closer it comes to “here I am, here I am,” the better.
Minnow baits and chuggers fall somewhere in the middle of these bait choices. Minnow baits are more like a “finesse” presentation, while chuggers bridge the gap between poppers and a prop bait.
What about buzz baits? Well, they are something special. Years ago I was fishing Truman Lake in Missouri and my guide Wolf Hazell told me that if you want to catch a 10-pound bass, use a
“You throw a buzz bait consistently in big bass waters, you will eventually take a 10-pound bass,” he said.
Well, I’ve taken a lot of nice bass on buzz baits, but the 10-pounder has avoided me. There are not many 10-pound bass in the waters I fish, but 4- to 6-pounders like to gulp them down, that I know.
What color should I use, you ask?
Hmmm. I’m not that particular, but here’s a general guideline. I like black for low light or cloudy days. I like brighter colors on sunny days.
While it doesn’t take any special tackle to fish topwaters, you have to use some common sense. If you are fishing heavy weeds or slop, you need a stout casting rod spooled with 30-pound braid. If you are fishing open water with no snags around, standard spinning tackle and monofilament line will do well.
Fishing topwaters is about like anything else when it comes to fishing. It’s about 90 percent common sense and 10 percent luck. While I’ve found Lady Luck to be a fickle mistress over the years, I never count her out. You shouldn’t either.