Top water bassin' is the best

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By Shelton Young

Ask any 10 die hard bass anglers their opinion of the most exciting way to catch bass and over half will say "top water!"

Top water fishing is casting a lure that floats, or works, on... here it comes... top of the water.

So why is top water bassin' so exciting? Speaking for myself, it's cause I can see my bait working and then watch as the bass hits its lure. It's like the rush that's felt when a covey of quail flushes at your feet. It's that split second when it feels like your breath locked up and your heart skipped a beat!

To experience this action you'll need to be on the water early...like "sun just coming up" early or right at dusk, usually.

The lures you'll use are varied...nothing simple here. But to make it a little easier, we'll categorize them as hard baits, wire baits and plastics.

Hard baits can do a variety of things, based on their design. There are chuggers/wobblers...like jitterbug, poppers...like a Rebel Pop-R, walkers...like the Zara Spook, and prop baits...like a Torpedo. Then we have the "wake baits" which are just fat, short billed crank baits that bulge the top of the water when retrieved.

The "wire bait" we're most familiar with is the buzz bait...which, by the way, John hates! Course his attitude changed somewhat when I caught three bass on three casts last year.

Another "wire" style bait that can be considered is my favorite, the spinner bait. A spinner bait with a single, big Colorado blade can be fished so as to produce a bulge in the waters surface.

These hard baits and wire baits are best used in fairly open water. Run them along the bank, parallel to grass lines or beside visible cover.

What about the thick stuff?

Well here is where the plastics rule. They're at home slithering across grass mats, lily pads or debris fields. Debris fields are the small floating "log jams" we've seen a lot of this spring.

Plastic are fished weedless almost all the time so they don't hang up...much!

Of the plastics...worms, snakes, bats and frogs...the frog gets used the most...at least by me.

Use the double hook soft body frogs...like the Spro Frog...or the various styles that you rig Texas style (without the weight). Cast them in the thick stuff and work them back mimicking the action of...you got it...a frog!

With any top water lure...especially frogs...it's imperative that you wait until you "feel the fish" to set the hook. Your reflex action will be to set the hook the instant you see the bass hit your lure. Do this and you'll more than likely pull the lure away from the bass. If you have to, count to three, then set the hook.

I'm lucky in that I'm just naturally slow, so I don't react fast enough to cause many misses!

For those times when you pull the lure away from the bass, or the bass hits and misses your top water offering, have a back-up bait rigged and ready.

For me, the backup bait is a slow sinking wacky rigged four-inch worm. Throw the worm right to the spot where the bass hit. My theory is 1.) The bass is excited and "in the mood" to hit something and 2.) The bass hasn't been "stuck" so it's not reluctant to hit another bait...maybe they think they killed something on their initial strike and now it's sinking to the bottom...easy meal?

As for equipment, your bait casters and spinning outfits will be perfect. Bait casters for any bait with enough weight to cast easily and spinning for the weightless offerings.

With either, I like seven-foot medium-heavy or heavy rods. The length will aid in casting distance and levering your bass out of the thick stuff.

For top water lures...hard baits...monofilament is recommended. Mono-floats will allow your lures to "work" better. And since heavy mono is thicker it floats better. *To make your line float even better, coat the first 20 or so feet with fly-line dressing!

The exception to using mono is when fishing heavy slop. When "in the grass, pads and debris" I'll use 80-pound braid. There's nothing dainty about fishing slop. They hit, you set the hook, and just winch'em in.

Remember your window of opportunity for a top water bite is "usually" limited to periods around dusk and dawn...I said "usually." If you see bass suspended in the water column around 10-15 feet, whether in open water or submerged trees...throw a top water over them and see what happens. You might be surprised!

One last thing. Since your fishing early and/or late...take bug spray!


Coming up on Sunday, June 26, the Mid-KY Bass Anglers will fish Salem Lake in LaRue County. This is a six-hour tournament that launches at 6 a.m. and has a noon weigh-in.

I hope I'm "cleared" to fish by then. Being laid-up is a bummer but sure beats what the alternative would have been!


I know this is pretty far down the road but Aug. 6 will be here before we know it. So what's Aug. 6? Well, if I'm right, it's the 14th Central KY Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Banquet.

It'll be at Lebanon's Centre Square and I'll have more information as we get closer to the event.

For now, just pencil Aug. 6 in on your calendar for an event you gotta attend.


Guess that's it for now. Get out, enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, stay safe and I'll see ya next week!