One of the most exciting ways to pursue almost any sportfish in Cottage Country is fishing a topwater lure. Experiencing just one of these exciting heart thumping strikes will make you a fan for life of this technique. Whether you are in open water calling up fish from the depths, fishing for giant smallmouth or musky, or targeting shallow water largemouth in heavy cover such as pads or matted vegetation; there is a bait, action and equipment suited to each which will help you increase your hook-ups and help you land more fish.
In shallow water situations with heavy cover, you need to go at them with a heavy action fast tip rod preferably rigged up with a 8:1 or high ratio reel and heavy line, 30lb or higher braid to allow you to make long casts, get a good hookset and be able to muscle those big bass to the top as quick as possible. Making long cast in these situations is crucial as fish are easily spooked when in these areas. Some of my favourite baits to use are soft plastic frog type baits like the Zoom Horny Toad or a hollow body frog such as the Booyah Pad Crasher. Another favourite of mine is a Buzzbait which is a bladed type bait with a loud propeller that spins on the surface causing a ton of commotion.
In deeper water presentations I tend to go with a medium heavy shorter glass rod or hybrid carbon/glass with a softer tip. I still like to use 20-30 lb. braid. Braided line has zero stretch so you can be sure you are getting a good hookset – and the parabolic qualities of a glass rod as opposed to a carbon fiber rod allow you to load up and lean into the hookset, avoiding yanking the hook out of the fish’s mouth. My favourite lures are poppers or walking type baits, or a combination of the two such as the Evergreen SB 105. Another favourite for both bass and musky is the Whopper Plopper.
From experience the most successful times to target top water bites are when fish are the most active, the first few hours in the morning, and last few hours before dark seem to be the best; but they can work all day when the conditions are right, preferably lowlight.
Finally, increase your hook-up rate – be sure to avoid the temptation to set the hook on the explosion, it is an easy thing to say, but harder to do in the moment. Sometimes the fish miss the bait, and you want to keep it in the area where you get the strike. Instead, keep working the bait until you feel the weight of the fish – then set the hook and let ‘em have it!! I hope this information helps improve your top water game!
Cheers, Happy Fishing