Those who have followed my columns for some time know that my go-to bait is the wacky worm.
But during these hot, sunny days with the high humidity, there is another type of artificial lure that can put some big bass and an occasional toothy critter (pike, pickerel) in your boat, also — a topwater lure.
If you are looking for some exciting bass fishing action, both for largemouth and smallmouth, here is one that will work right now. Let’s first look at the equipment needs.
The topwater bait choices include a Zara Spook, Pop R, several of the weedless hollow lures such as the rubber frogs, floating mouse or Phat Rat. And, of course, always be sure to bring some wacky worms. Rod, reel and line selection are also important.
For open water, the hard baits should be fished with at least a six-foot medium-action rod and a high-ratio retrievable spinning or baitcasting reel filled with 12-pound test monofilament line.
I prefer to use a 6.2:1 reel that picks up 10-11 inches of line with each full turn of the reel. When you have a big smallmouth tail-walking its way over the surface of the water, you want to keep the slack out of your line; which is why the fast retrieve is needed.
For dragging those rubber creatures over the lily pads, I prefer a seven-foot heavy-action rod and reel filled with at least 25-pound test line. When a largemouth blows through the heavy lily pads and/or weeds and grabs that frog, it heads right back down into the jungle where it came from, and it is then where your control of the fish is important to getting him out of that jungle and into the boat.
This is also the reason you need the high-speed baitcasting reel.
I actually use a 7.1:1 gear-ratio reel spooled with 50-pound test braid which has a diameter of about 10-pound test monofilament.
I found the best time to fish the hard topwater baits is the first few hours of daylight.
Once the sun comes up along with the humidity and boating traffic the bass go into hiding. The smallies usually will go deeper or into the rocky areas and definitely around the bridge abutments. Largemouths will often head for the jungle, and this is where the fun really begins.
Using the heavier action rod/reel outfit, stay 20 feet or so off of the weed/lily pad cover and make long casts. When the frog lands, let it sit motionless for a few seconds, then begin to retrieve it — slowly.
When you come to an opening in the weeds, stop the frog in the opening and let it sit still for a few seconds. Try not to have too much slack in the line.
Continue this retrieve, and when you get to the edge of the weeds, pull the frog off the edge and let it sit motionless for several seconds. Largemouths will sometimes follow the frog and hit it once it is off the weeds.
Setting the hook on any of these topwater/weed baits requires a little bit of patience, and that can be a problem when that bass explodes beneath your offering.
Do not set the hook on the sound of the hit, but rather when you actually feel the fish. And for safety sake wear sunglasses, because a hard premature hook set will send the lure airborne and headed right for you.
Many of the times when fishing topwater, I have had to cut the hooks out of my shirt.
Now, why the wacky worm? Keep it near you at all times. When the bass misses your topwater bait, grab that wacky worm and toss it right to where the bass was. You will be surprised how often they stay around.