With the bass season opener a couple days away, I start to get excited about my favorite technique for both smallmouth bass and largemouth bass: Fishing with topwater lures.
Having caught my first bass on an old wooden Jitterbug topwater lure nearly 40 years ago, and then again many more bass on topwater lures up into my mid teens, surface fishing seems to be engraved in my brain associating the topwater explosion with ultimate fishing bliss.
Though pike and musky will hit topwater lures at times, bass are my primary target when surface fishing. Various techniques are effective, but my overall best topwater lure if I had to choose one for both bass species, would be a popper. My personal preference is the Rebel PopR, though I've used a few others over the years as well.
Most bass can be found in very shallow water early in the season, often in less than 2 feet of depth. This makes it extremely easy to target both largemouth and smallmouth bass without the use of any fancy boats or electronics. A simple jon boat, kayak, canoe, paddle boat or even float tune is safe enough to hits shallow shorelines from the water.
Shore fishing can be quite productive provided you have proper shorelines access, otherwise waders should do the trick.
While topwater bites can be had throughout the day, early morning and late evening are by far the most productive times, especially when the water's surface is calm and mirror like. Stealth tactics are important. Use electric motor if you are fishing from a boat, or proper stalking methods if you are on foot or wading. Spooking a bass will usually end up ruining your chances of hooking it, although you can double back on the spot after a while in many instances.
Simply cast your popper towards the shore, usually as close up as you can, and near structure lie lilly pads, sunken trees, or rock piles. Let the ripples subside, and twitch the lure to create a popping sound. Then let the ripples subside, and repeat. Often, bass will inhale the lure off the surface, as opposed to exploding on it as they may with some other topwater lures fished more aggressively.
My son even had 2 bass hit the same lure a number of years back.
Other topwater lures that I enjoy to use are walk the dog style lures, such as the Zara Spook by Heddon Lures. Fish slightly more aggressively than a popper, multiple twitches will cause the lure to move side to side. Vary the speed and cadence of the lure until you figure out what works best on a given day. Different sizes exist, with the larger lures in this style being more effective for largemouth bass and pike, as smallmouth bass usually prefer smaller lures.
This nice 4.75 lbs largemouth bass crushed my Zara spook while my friend Jimmy and I were pike fish late one August evening a few years ago.
Moving to quicker topwater lures, there are crawlers, propbaits and buzzbaits. These are suited for surface fishing when the bites is very aggressive, and provide for the more spectacular topwater hits, as they are fished a lot faster, the fish have less reaction time. The downside is, that bass or pike often miss their initial hit, though they come back at it quite often. Simply retrieve these topwater lures to generate a lot of noise and splash, and wait to feel the wait of the fish before setting the hook.
Have some new spots to throw my topwater lures are starting next week, as well as some old spots the week after. Hope to have some nice new bass pics to post.