Topwater Bass Fishing
For bass, warm water and insect hatches add up to fantastic fishing on the surface, using topwater lures to plop, sputter, dance and weave above their heads, sending bass into a fury. The combination of sound, movement, wake and bubble trail definitely get their attention. But then, when you stop your lure and let it sit above their noses, daring them to strike, even the biggest bass lose their cool. They slurp, gulp and oftentimes explode, crashing up through the edge where air meets water. Heck, sometimes, they even leap out of the water, and nail your bait on the way back down!
While all topwaters are effective–and undoubtedly seem to provoke larger bass into striking–all lures are not equal in all circumstances. Each style of topwater has its own unique combination of attributes that drive bass wild.
Poppers have concave noses that create a surprisingly loud “bloop” when you aggressively twitch your rod tip. They call fish from a distance; give ’em time to find your bait between pops and plops. Remember, the commotion attracts, but the pause between is deadly for triggering strikes.
Prop baits have tiny propellors on one or both ends, creating a “whirring,” sputtering sound and spray when twitched or steadily retrieved. Subtler than a popper, they excel when less is more, meaning when a Purr is better than a KABLOOSH, technically speaking.
Walk-the-dog lures dance side-to-side when you create a cadence of twitch-retrieve-twitch-retrieve, timing your twitches just right to impart action and motion, let the lure glide to one side, and then, just about the time it runs out of steam, twitch it back in the other direction. This style of lure covers more water than poppers and prop baits, great for when big bass are fairly aggressively on on the bite. Also excellent for covering expansive weed flats to locate active biters.
And for those glory days when bass want to smash anything on the surface, and are willing to chase baits down to chomp on them, try buzzbaits. Some have a single blade; others are double trouble, for more sputter and spray. Toss ’em out, and wind ’em back in, fast enough to make the blades whirr across the surface. Hang on tight; when big bass time it right, the strike is like a cow falling off a cliff, into the water. Yet during times when bass seem to be only nipping at the skirt, try adding a single trailer hook to nip short strikers in the lip. Another great lure style for covering water to zero in on areas with active fish.
Both largemouths and smallmouths are suckers for topwaters. You’d suspect that you’d need smaller lures for smallies, since their mouths aren’t as gaping as largemouths. Not necessarily. Both species seem fond of even large baits. You sometimes catch both species on gigantic muskie topwaters as well.
Speaking of muskies…they, too, love topwaters, chiefly of the larger persuasion. Kick up a ruckus, get their attention, and get them to follow. Especially on calm evening, or at night. When they follow and strike at boatside, just a few feet away in the darkness, it momentarily terrorizes even veteran muskie busters. This time, it’s like a hippo trying to jump INTO the boat. Definitely not for the faint of heart!