Lakecaster Online Archives - May, 2004

Early Summer Bass Fishing

By Wade Middleton
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Wade Middleton

Spring is now moving toward summer and it’s time to start thinking about top waters! I think if you ask around you’ll find that most fisherman will say I’ll take 10 top water strikes over catching 10 fish on another bait any day. There is something about watching the water blow up all around a bait that is twitching and spitting across the water. Then when you set the hook the world comes alive again and explodes in water drops everywhere as you and the fish tug in different directions. For me top water breaks down in a couple of ways. Slow moving poppers/prop baits and fast moving walk the dog baits. Each of these baits are fished differently but both are proven producers.

Poppers and pro baits are generally thought to be better on calmer days when there is not to much wave action up on top of the water. This does not mean that you can‘t use these baits effectively under windy conditions as I can recall one windy May day several years back when I was use a prop bait and catching them as fast as I could unhook them.

To fish either a popper or prop style bait I normally use a 7 foot long medium action Daiwa Light and Tough series rod equipped with a Team Daiwa TDX 103 High speed reel. The reason for this set up is the 7 foot rod allows me to make longer casts and the medium action has just the right give to not overwork the bait when I‘m twitching or popping the bait on top. I prefer a high speed reel to help keep from getting to much slack in the line between casts. To fish either of these style baits I make a long cast to a specific target or large grass bed and first off let the bait sit till the rings from the bait splashing down are out about 5 feet. I then make my first couple twitches trying to keep the bait within 1 foot of where the bait landed. If I don‘t get a bite right away I speed up and make the bait move faster until I get halfway back to the boat or past what I‘d say was the prime strike zone and then I reel in and repeat the process. As always let the fish tell you how they want the bait. Sometimes it‘s popping loud others it‘s barely moving the bait.

The other style of top waters we haven’t talked about is the walk the dog style baits such as the Yo-Zuri Banana Boat or Heddon Zara Spook. These types of baits have lots of uses and can be used on calm or windy days. However I find this style of bait really shines when you have winds in the 5-10 mph range. To fish these baits I use the same set up as above and make those long casts again. When the bait hit’s the water I drop my rod down toward the water and take up any slack in the line. Once I‘ve got control of the slack line I began to twitch my rod downward and then back up typically about 14-20 inches at a time. This type of action causes the bait to zig zag back and forth and it‘s simply a matter now of covering enough water to find an aggressive fish as they will hammer this type of offering when other top waters want draw a strike.

Remember cast long, find the cadence and bait that matches the conditions and don‘t set the hook to fast when blows up on it or you‘ll take the bait away before the fish hooks itself and should the fish miss the bait speed up the retrieve and hold on as it‘s not uncommon for the same fish to strike several times on one cast before you hook up! Good luck and catch one for me!

Wade Middleton is the host of Fishing and Hunting Texas and a longtime fishing and hunting guide. You can reach Wade at or catch his show on one of the many networks that air it statewide. For more information go to