|What could be more fun than watching a giant largemouth explode
from out of nowhere and bust a top water bait? Probably nothing;
itís what bass fishing is all about. Working top waters is as
pure as it gets and why itís a favorite technique of top professional
anglers. The only downside is that itís not always the most
effective method for putting fish in the boat. On the other
hand when conditions are right thereís no more exciting way
to get the job done. Knowing where and when is the key, and
there are some factors to look for. Good shallow cover is the
most important piece of the top water puzzle and includes fields
of lily pads, reed banks, stands of cane, inside weed lines,
and mats of healthy weeds. Another place to look is over the
top of deeper growing weeds, and is an area that is often overlooked.
Where you look will depend on whatís available and its good
to have options and the more likely cover you have the better.
A combination of the above can be even better, like where a
stand of cane lines the shoreline edge inside of a big pad field.
Quite often there will be an open area between the cane and
the weed edge and is a high percentage spot for finding shallow
running bass. Pockets of open water in heavy pad fields and
matted weeds are also high percentage spots and should never
be overlooked. On the other hand donít let a dense jungle of
matted weeds fool you into thinking thereís no way bass could
operate in something that thick because they definitely can.
Heavy surface weeds can mask whatís actually underneath and
thereís likely to be plenty of runs of open water down below.
Bass can do quite well in such an environment and will cruise
back and forth looking for something that has made a fatal mistake.
Itís amazing how well a bigmouth can hone in on something on
top and then get through all of those weeds and still nail the
bait. Heavy cover calls for heavy gear and is no place to worry
about finesse. Longer bait casting rods like seven and a half
foot flippiní sticks, along with heavy monofilament or braided
line is the only way to go. Anything less will result in big
fish hooked and lost and wonít do you or the fish any good.
Where you might be able to get by with something a little lighter
is over tops of the deep weed line but it still requires stiffer
rods and at least ten or twelve pound test. Productive top water
baits vary greatly in style and shape and what you use will
be determined by where you want to throw it. Baits with exposed
hooks like Skitter Pops and Skitter Props are excellent picks
for working on top but require open water to be effective. Theyíre
perfect for working open water edges like along the inside and
outside edges of heavy weed growth, or over the tops of deeper
growing weeds that donít quite reach the surface. Although the
baits are similar, there are some differences. For example;
the Skitter Pop has a cupped face that pops and throws water
when you snap the bait forward. A hot technique includes casting
the bait out, letting it sit as long as you can stand it, and
then working it back with a snap, snap, snap of the rod tip.
It creates a lot of noise and commotion and can really turn
fish on. The Skitter Prop on the other hand has a slender face,
and a prop at the rear that spins and sputters and can be retrieved
a couple of different ways including bringing it back at a steady
pace or using a swish and stop technique. With the rod tip in
the down position you can pull the lure a couple of feet and
then let it set, tack up the slack and the pull it again. From
there youíre in the perfect position for rearing back and setting
the hook when the bait does get attacked. A hot top water lure
that has been producing monster bass is the Rapala Skitter Walk.
It has exposed hooks as well but is designed to be retrieved
in a ďwalk the dogĒ fashion.
Early in the morning and late in the day are the two top periods
for working top waters, especially if the winds are relatively
calm. Another thing to look for is steady weather, particularly
towards the end of a long warming trend. In fact the period
just before a cold front is expected to arrive can be exceptionally
hot and is a great time to be working a fast moving top water
bait. Right before a cold front arrives the bass can go absolutely
crazy and the action on top can be phenomenal. As good as it
might be donít stay too long and risk your own safety. A fast
approaching front can be on you before you know it and things
can go bad in a matter of moments, and there is no fish worth
risking your life over. The late summer period can be one of
the hottest times of the year for working top water baits. Fish
that had been spending the summer in deeper haunts will often
show a renewed interest in shallow water and the action can
be pretty intense. Sticking big bass on top can be a real adrenaline
rush and is downright addicting. All it takes is the will because
now you know the way.
||The technique includes casting the bait out and then
working it back by snapping the rod tip down and reeling
up line at the same time in a rhythmic motion. The result
is a bait that works back and forth and can drive big
bass nuts. Buzz baits are another good choice and are
great search lures because they can be worked rather quickly
allowing you to cover more water. Although they do have
an exposed hook they are designed to land and run with
the hook in the up position which makes them more weed
resistant. They can be run close to and over lighter weeds
and lily pads but become ineffective when it comes to
the heaviest cover. In that case only the most weed proof
baits are in order, like plastic frogs and weedless spoons.
Frogs can worked with a twitch, twitch, twitch and wait
technique while the spoon can worked a lot faster which
can help you to eliminate water which can be particularly
important when you have acres of potential shallow water
cover. Weather and time of day can also effect just how
productive top water baits can be and there are some peak
times and conditions to look for.