If you love a topwater bite, there’s no better time to be fishing than right now. Topwater baits also do well in the fall when bass go on the feed, but you absolutely can’t beat the postspawn to early summer phase.
Although topwater is one of the funnest ways to catch bass, a lot of anglers don’t see it as a viable option for competition. I’m here to tell you, it is a 100% viable option to win tournaments right now and again in the fall.
I could talk about 20 different topwater categories, but for now I’ll limit it to my five most basic baits.
When bass come off their beds, especially the bigger females, they very often move to the first pieces of isolated cover. That could be a lone dock, a lone stickup or a single boulder. This is when I go with a popper.
It’s the best topwater bait at this time because you can keep it in or near some form of isolated cover for a long time. That popping noise draws bass out of whatever the cover happens to be. The Rapala X-Rap Pop is a good one. It has a feather on the rear treble and sits tail down.
The color selection is simple. When the bass are feeding on bluegill, go with a bluegill pattern. When they’re feeding on shad, go with something white or silver. Match the forage whatever it is.
The prop bait is a mainstay in Florida, but it doesn’t get talked about a whole lot from a national perspective. When bass are guarding fry and when they start feasting on bedding bluegills, the prop bait is one of the best lures you can throw. That’s especially true when the bluegill bite is on.
A prop bait stays in the strike zone a lot longer than other topwaters because the props hold it in place. When you’re casting to a ball of bass fry or working it over those honeycomb bluegill beds, you want it to stay right there.
That spray from the props is a triggering action. I like a bait that has three trebles for a better hooking percentage. My favorite is Rapala’s X-Rap Prop. It comes with a feathered rear treble, which I prefer.
There are times in that postspawn/early summer period when the bass are in heavy cover where you can’t fish a prop bait or a popper. A lot of times bluegill beds and bass fry are in weeds, standing timber or flooded brush. In those instances the buzzbait gets the nod.
I love a buzzbait because I can make it do different things. I can slow it way down over bluegill beds by holding my rod tip high. When bass are guarding fry, I can make them react by twitching a buzzbait and making it spit.
In off-colored water and when the buzzbait bite is on, I like a larger buzzbait like the 1/2-ounce Molix SS Super Squeaky. For tougher conditions, say, clear water or after a cold front, I downsize to the 1/4-ounce Molix Lover Buzz SS Mini.
When the bass start getting into their early summer patterns, they’re sliding out of the shallows toward deeper water. They’re on the move and you need a topwater bait that covers a lot of water to find them. This is when a cigar-shaped walking bait is the deal.
I make long casts and work it over expansive main lake and secondary points. You have to vary the cadence to find what the bass want. My general rule of thumb is the dirtier the water, the slower the cadence. The cleaner the water is the faster the retrieve.
Rapala’s Skitter V does the job for me. Its belly is keeled, which makes it easier to walk.
Not every bass heads for deep water for the summer. Some of them stay shallow and hang under the thickest cover they can find. On some lakes and rivers, the majority of the bass do this.
The cover they seek most often is some kind of matted vegetation. But it could also be thick laydowns or overhangs, places that you can’t skip a popper or prop bait into. A hollow weedless frog is essential for those situations.
I like a frog that skips well and pushes water so it makes its presence known when I’m working it over matted grass. Molix’s Supernato Frog does that for me.