When many anglers think of fishing topwater baits, they may think of warm weather, cloudy skies, and wind. While all of these factors certainly lead to a decent topwater bite, there are other times of the year when this technique shines.
Up here in the north, when the water warms up to temps higher than 50 degrees, bass being to move towards their spawning grounds and the fishing productivity starts to pick up. This is many angler’s favorite time of the year because the males become aggressive and are much more prone to bite at an artificial offering than the previous winter months. While the fish do have to feed, more often than not anglers get bit because of pure reaction to the bait. This is where topwater really can be productive because in shallow water, having that surface splash and noise from a walk-the-dog type bait, they can’t help but to smack it.
This bait will produce anytime the fish are shallow and drawn to a particular holding area such as the spawn or along the edges of grass or other shallow cover as the water warms and summer kicks into full swing. Unlike the summer, though, you don’t have to throw along any sort of cover. A lot of water can be covered just by making long casts over shallow flats and it won’t be long before you find bedding fish. Try this bait anywhere you see large beds and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Although, the two most important things to consider when fishing shallow flats during the spawn with a topwater would be having wind to kick up a little ripple on the surface of the water and finding the right speed to work your bait. Typically, the cooler the water, the longer the pause between jerks of the rod. The idea is to annoy the fish into striking and with the Strike King Sexy Dawg, Seaguar Kanzen Braided Line, and a Rapala Knot, I can swing the bait from side to side without retrieving it back to me much more than a few inches at a time. This can lead to some lengthy retrieves but I’ve had great success doing this. Also, these types of baits can cast a mile and bore right through what wind there is. Recently, I fished in gusting winds to over 20 miles per hour and this bait shot right through it without a problem.
Typically I’ll keep this bait on top of the water with braided line but once in awhile I’ll switch to a rod with fluorocarbon line. This will allow your line to sink and instead of walking the dog on the surface as you would with braid, the bait will walk a few inches below the surface and then when paused, the lure will pop back up to the surface. A number of strikes have come sub-surface when the bait just kind of disappears. More often than not, though, once the bait returns to the surface, the fish will attack. This variation mimics a dying baitfish or, in the bass world, an easy lunch.
Water clarity also comes into play as does the depth of the water and the backdrop in which we fish. It doesn’t have to be cloudy to fish topwater but it can be a factor in determining the pattern of topwater you use. When the water has a little stain and it’s cloudy, solid white is my bait of choice. If the water is clear and the skies are blue, I’ll use a more natural shad pattern and work the lure a little faster giving the fish a little less time to make out exactly what is above them, forcing them into striking.
Experimentation is key and finding what works on your fishery will lead to a great time watching fish blow up the surface.