Largemouths on Top

Shallow slop holds largemouths in the summertime. Extracting them from theajungle is a challenge bass fans love, and throwing topwater baits that skitter and slide across the canopy is one of the most popular ways to attack these green monsters. Topwater fishing seems simple, but even slight variations in lure choice and presentation can mean the difference between a great day and getting skunked.


It all starts with choosing the right baits for the conditions at hand. Many anglers think all topwaters are the same, but differences in lure style, body shape and weight can have a big affect on your catch rates.


Favorite topwater choices include frogs, rats and mice. Spoons such as Northland Tackle’s Jaw-Breaker are often overlooked but equally deadly, and LiveTarget recently has added hollow-bodied sunfish to the list of fish-catching options.


Different topwaters displace water at different rates, both in open water and when retrieved over vegetation. Water displacement alerts bass to your bait’s presence, and allows fish to track it until they’re ready to attack.


Weight and body shape affects the amount of water a lure drafts, which in turn affects displacement. Since conditions and moods of a fish change, no single style produces the best all the time. Some days you need to plow through weeds and water while other times barely slithering is better.


When fishing atop matted vegetation, I prefer a topwater with enough weight and water displacement to push the weeds down or off to the side so my bait touches the water. Bass rarely grab something off the top of the platter, but they may hit if the bait breaches the canopy. Where extremely thick weeds prevent penetration, focus on edges or punch heavy jigs through the mat.


Buoyancy is also a factor, and floating baits ride the surface at rest while sinkers like the Jaw-Breaker flutter seductively into open pockets on the pause. Both are viable options, so experiment and keep an open mind. But you also have to pay attention to your retrieve speed. You want to elicit a reaction strike without giving the fish too much time to scrutinize the presentation.


When your topwater hits open areas, crank the reel handle and pound the rod butt to make the bait dance and quiver like an injured sunfish or frog. And when a bass bites, resist the urge to set the hook immediately. Pause a couple seconds to allow the fish to turn with the bait, and then set hard and get the fish’s head up and out of the grass ASAP.


By following these tips this summer, it will be possible to bust more August weed-bed bass on top.       MWO




Based in Walker, Minn., noted fishing authority and outdoor communicator Chip Leer operates Fishing the WildSide, which offers a full suite of promotional, product development and consultation services. For more information, call 218-547-4714 or email [email protected]



A nice bass caught on a topwater mouse imitation.


Focus your casts in pockets, through open lanes and along edges of lily pads.



Don’t set the hook too quickly! Wait until you feel the fish on the line, then set!