Postspawn Topwater Choices
Published on Bassmaster.com May 20, 2009
Here in northeast Texas, the majority of adult bass are finished laying their eggs and are in a transitional stage of their spawn. There are still a few fish still on the beds and a small fraction that hasn't even started spawning yet. I've found them on beds well into June on Lake Fork, so we get an exceptionally long spawn. But most are either still guarding their fry or transitioning to their summer positions. This article is dedicated to topwater choices during this transition period.
The topwater bait with the most fish recorded is also my best bait, so I will spend the majority of this article on it. That bait is a topwater popper. Examples of this include the Yellow Magic, Rico, Pop-R and the Berkley Frenzy Popper. All these baits look very similar but have differences that I believe can make the difference in the number of fish you catch on them.
As a general rule, you can expect the more expensive baits to have better paint jobs and sharper hooks. But they can also be 10 times more expensive than their cheaper counterparts. The cheaper versions will likely have hooks that aren't as thin, so they aren't as "sticky" as the sharp hooks. The thin, sharper hooks won't lose as many fish but are much more dangerous. So you really need to be careful with them. I recommend that you don't touch those baits without a rod length of line out. If you reel a fish all the way up to the end of your rod and try to remove the sharp hooks, you are much more likely to end up bleeding and possibly getting a barb in your skin. So keep a loose line when you touch the bait. I like the sharp hooks because you don't need as good of a hook set to ensure landing of a fish. Since I don't lose many topwater baits, I usually just purchase the expensive popper baits. However, I have found that some factory hooks on the cheaper models can be sharpened to be like the expensive "sticky" hooks. So it is possible to have sharp hooks on the cheaper baits.
I prefer the smaller poppers most of the time. I normally throw them with 15-pound-test line on a baitcaster with a medium action rod. The medium action really helps to fling the bait out. It also helps to leave about 18 inches of line out to cast them, since light baits are hard to throw on a baitcaster. It also helps to play the fish so it isn't as likely to pull away as it could on a heavier action rod. If I have a client that can't throw a light bait on a baitcaster, I'll have him throw a bigger popper or use a different type of reel. The bigger poppers don't normally catch quite as many fish as the smaller ones, but they are much easier to throw.
What I prefer in a popper is one that makes a good "bloop" sound when popped. The more expensive baits usually do that right out of the package, but the cheaper versions can be modified to make a similar sound. I've found that these baits really excel in slick water, so I try to find calm water to throw them, even when it's windy. I prefer to make long casts as shallow as I can get without hanging up the hooks. I then like to use a 90-degree angle with my rod and fish them on a slack line. I like to make contact with the lure only at the very end of the pop. This helps to make the "bloop" sound and not make the lure travel far. I believe the first pop is the most important, and I want that first movement to be a "bloop" without moving the bait first. So, I often make the first pop with so much slack in my line that I don't make contact with the bait. I then reel in a few inches of line to pop it again until I make that first good "bloop." Working it on a slack line serves three purposes: It makes the sound, it keeps the bait in the strike zone longer and it allows you to wait long enough for the fish to take it. That all translates into more fish in the boat.
The best popper color, according to the BASSlog, is shad. Firetiger, baby bass, gold/black and chrome/black (in that order) are the next best colors. The best structure is shallow flats and the best cover is submerged vegetation. The best depth recorded is less than 5 feet deep. Clear water is best, and the best time for them is early morning and late evening.
Behind the popper, the best topwater bait recorded is the darter type bait. Examples of this include the Heddon Spook and the Lucky Craft Sammy. The best colors and conditions are the same or very similar to the popper. Third on the list is the topwater frog. Best colors for the frog are black, green pumpkin and watermelon/red flake. Best locations for them are also in the shallow water, but these baits are better for getting around cover without hanging up. So, you should take advantage of them and cast them where the other baits would hang. The rest of the list for topwater choices in postspawn include the buzzbait, prop bait and the floating lizard (in that order).
Topwater fishing is the most exciting fishing you can get, and this is a great time to get bit. Take advantage of the nice weather during the postspawn season and catch some fish on top.