Realistically, topwater fishing throughout the summer months work on lakes across the country for every different species of bass, whether it be spotted bass, smallmouth bass, or largemouth bass. We fish for smallmouth in a lot of northern, clear water lakes and topwater fishing is a truly mainstream technique in these conditions. A little bit of cloud cover and overcast conditions, paired with some humidity in the air is a great recipe for primetime topwater smallmouth bass fishing.
One thing that’s critical with any type of topwater lure you’re using is the cadence and speed of the retrieve. One thing that’s nice about using a popper is you can have a big attracting maneuver (the pop) and then let the bait sit there for an extended period of time. With a jump bait (walk the dog), it’s smooth cadence has an excellent triggering effect on the fish. But one thing that’s very important is to experiment with the speed and the cadence of your retrieve as you’re walking the bait back to the boat.
One of the most critical aspects of fishing is understanding “edges”. The surface of the lake is one of the largest edges that exists in the fish’s underwater world. This is true in shallow water and deep water conditions. You still have a very, very distinct edge that bass feed against.
It’s mid-summer right now and the smallmouths can be just about anywhere. You can catch them out on deeper structure, up near bulrush beds, but some of the best areas to look are around rocks and hard bottom transition areas. Topwater fishing is not only a boatload of fun, but it’s also an extremely effect way to take advantage of the aggressive nature of the smallmouth bass.
Make sure you’re using a floating line type such as monofilament or braided line. Fluorocarbon sinks and will mess up the action of the bait. Experiment with lure styles – poppers, jump baits, prop baits, etc. – and try different speeds and cadences and you should be ready to rock for topwater fishing success.