The temperature was pushing 80 degrees. Not bad for a July afternoon, but this was at 6 a.m. It was going to be a hot one, and I wanted to get my time in on the water before the direct sun drove the bass to the deepest, darkest holes on the creek.
I was fishing a Jitter-bug. Chugging it along a rock bluff a half-hour before the first rays of sunshine topped the eastern tree line. Surface explosions were periodically disrupting the morning silence. I fell into a rhythm of casting, until, wham, my first surface strike of the day.
After bringing the 2-pounder to hand and pitching him back in the water, I stood in awe of the scene around me. Over the course of the next few hours, I repeated this scenario a dozen times. On creeks and rivers across the state, now is a prime time for targeting bass on the surface at dawn and dusk.
Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame member, Bill Cooper, said, “There is nothing in the fishing world that compares to the thrill of seeing a big bass crash a topwater bait. That time of year is here. Water temperatures are up, and so is bass metabolism. Their appetites are ravenous, and they will attack anything that will fit into their big bucket mouths.”
Bass fishing is one of the most popular outdoor activities across Missouri. Our state is blessed with more places to fish than one could experience in two lifetimes. Anglers who fish for bass year round have developed countless methods for putting a limit in the box. In my personal opinion, and what I venture to assume is the personal opinion of countless others, is that few if any methods for catching bass are as exciting as top-water. Witnessing a bass crush a surface plug is both visually and audibly outdoor excitement at its best.
The surface bite is best at dawn and dusk, but it can also be great at night. Bass come out of deeper water to chase prey in the shallows and feed on bait fish, frogs, mice, snakes, and more. Any bait resembling a surface prey can fool a bass into executing a ferocious top-water predation. Using conventional rods and reels with common top-water baits, such as buzz baits, Zara Spooks, hula-poppers, and Jitter-bugs is more common.
Topwater fishing for bass is a thrill because of the aggressive strikes, but it’s also enjoyable to read the river and target visible structure that results in catching a fish. The strategy side of fishing. Cast your lure or fly next to logs, lily pads, patches of weeds or cattails, as well as manmade structure like piers, sea walls, rip rap, and dams. Those are top producing spots. It’s a rush to think “there should be a bass right there,” then to cast to the spot and actually catch one.
Anglers fishing from a boat usually have the advantage of positioning themselves in front of structure and casting from deep to swallow water. Bank fishermen get a bonus, though, if the water is not too deep. They can wet-wade, which is just wadding in shorts or a bathing suit instead of waders. Picking your way along the shore, enjoying the sensation of fishing in the water, is a favorite of mine. Beaches are a great place to do this early in the morning.
Topwater fishing for summer bass is a great way to take advantage of the summer months. The action can be hot and heavy. But even if you get only one strike, the energy created from a bass busting your offering on the surface is intense, and worth the effort of early or late.
See you down the trail…
Pic: Few fishing accomplishments are as exciting as catching bass on the surface.
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