BLACK BASS: Time for Topwater�
By Rich Johnson
comes and the weather changes, the days getting shorter, nights longer and the leaves
change with the season. This is the part of the fishing season I look forward to the most.
The weather may be cooling off, but the action is just starting to heat up. The fish will
become more aggressive in their feeding as they fatten up for winter. With this
aggressiveness, will come the abandonment of some of their senses, which means more action
This is the
season when I switch over to topwater lures. I am a sucker for the explosion that comes
with the crashing of a largemouth upon a slowly twitched surface swimming bait. This
really gets the juices flowing and will warm you, fall mornings when the mist is rising
off the water. Lets explore some of the choices we have for topwater action in the
CHOICE. My all-time favorite topwater lure has to be the three and five eighths
inch original floating Rapala in black back/silver. This is the color I use in the early
mornings and on cloudy or rainy days when the water is relatively still. On clear, sunny
day I will use the blue back/silver side. As a rule of thumb, I like to match the color of
the lure with color of the sky when using top waters, but dont overlook perch
patterns or the black back/gold side Rapala. Clip off the leading point on the trebles if
youre fishing around weeds to keep from fouling the hooks.
choice, especially when the water has a ripple to it, is a Devils Horse plug. I became
accustomed to using it in Florida and it ha brought me success here in New York as well.
This stickbait has a propeller, for and aft, to create a commotion in a somewhat rough
water situation. Shad colors and perch patterns are the colors I have found to be most
These plugs can result in some of the most exciting and vicious strikes of any lure. I dont
know why but bass really seem to explode on these lures. Of course the one that everyone
knows of would be the Arbogast Hula Popper. This plug has been around for what seems like
forever and has been a very productive lure for just as long. Frog color is the most
popular and has the advantage when fished around weed edges. I use the smaller of the
sizes in this popper, as many small fish will bang at it. You dont have to worry
about large fish inhaling it, and it will increase your hook-ups with the smaller fish.
This lure ranks right up there with the Rapala for drawing strikes. The black color is
very effective on rainy days and during the late evening hours.
popper that most folks forget about when it comes to freshwater is the Creek Chub or Atom
poppers. They have been used in saltwater applications for a long, long time with great
success. Take it from me, the smallest of sizes in these lure work just as well in
freshwater. Ive found white or silver to be very good choices. The Rebel Pop-R is
also a very good popping plug. This comes is a couple of different sizes and the blue or
black back are my favorite color patterns. The feathered teaser on the rear treble hook
adds to the enticement of the action. The pros on the bas circuit have been touting this
lure for years.
I will rely on heavily in the fall is not a surface lure at all, but is fished a one.
Using a small jig/spinner blade, I will attach a one-sixteenth or one-eighth-ounce
leadhead with a twister tail or sassy shad on the head. This is then cast and retrieved in
such a manner that it is ripper along just slightly under the surface. This creates a
V-shaped wake that drives the bass wild. The key is not to break the surface of the water
with the blade. Chartreuse white tails are my preference along with black back sassy
When using different surface lures there are different techniques that are
required by the angler. With minnow shaped plugs or stickbaits, the method I employ most
often is twitching. To start, I like to use a loop knot, which allows me to
get the most action out of the lure that I possibly can.
lure is cast, I will wait for all the ripples to disappear. Admittedly, this is the
toughest part of fishing. The waiting! Usually a 10 count will suffice before I start the
first twitch. When twitching, I use a sudden downward jerking motion of the rod tip, which
causes the lure to dive just a few inches. You can use any combination of jerks and sweeps
that you want. Many times I will twitch, then rest, allowing the lure to come to a
motionless stop on the surface before twitching again. This stop and go method is deadly.
While the lures at rest, be ready. Many a strike has come while the lure lays motionless,
and in some cases, as soon as the lure is started after a pause.
set the hook by feel, not by sight. Weve all been found guilty, including myself, of
seeing that explosion on the water, and rearing back on the rod, only to have the plug
become a flying missile heading right for us. Once you see the strike, wait until you feel
the fish swim away with the lure before setting the hook.
simply choose to slowly swim the lure all the way through the retrieve, creating a V-wake
that will drive the fish nuts. Even though the bass have sped up their activity level,
they cant seem to resist that very slow moving, lazy action. With the
popping plugs, I tie directly to the lure itself for a solid connection. The lure is
worked with an upward movement of the wrist, which imparts motion into the popper. On the
drop pf the rod tip, reel in the slack line so youre ready for the next movement.
As the name implies, you want to get the popper to pop.
This popping sound will draw fish out and result in strikes through instinctive behavior
and/or territorial responses from the fish. Of course there are many more surface lures to
discuss, along with the conditions and techniques involved with each of them. Those
mentioned above are some of my favorites and I never leave home without my vest packed
with several of each in assorted colors.
So forget the football games and take advantage of this
wonderful fall fishing. When you add the excitement of watching that olbass explode
on your surface lure, youll be glad youre there.