Talk topwaters with any East Texas basser and you'll here about baits like a Zarra Spook and a Pop "R." Some old timer might mention a Heddon Chugger or a Lucky 13 or maybe a Pico Pop. A relative newcomer that is developing quite a following is a bait manufactured by the Storm Bait Company called the "Chug Bug." It has an elongated body and the ability to "walk" in a side-to-side fashion, much like a Zarra Spook and a cupped face like a Pop "R" to give it that "bloop, bloop" sound and to top it off, it contains internal rattles kind of like a Rat-L-Trap. Put these three properties together and you've got the makin's of a bait that'll be catching bass for many moons to come.
Any time after the bass leave their spawning beds until the winter slow down is an excellent time to be fishing a "Bug".
Many people consider this bait to only be a schooling bass bait and only throw it when they can see surface activity. These people are missing out on one of the truly amazing attributes of this bait and that is its ability to draw semi-active bass from fairly long distances and entice them into striking. The strikes can vary from a gentle slurp to a heart-stopping crash, but every single fish caught is just a little more fun because it was caught on a topwater.
To maximize your productivity, concentrate your "Bug" fishing around periods of low light level, dawn, dusk and anytime there is cloud cover. Just go to your favorite moss bed, put your trolling motor down and start fishing around the outside edge. As usual, the bigger bass should be concentrated on the points, indentations and anywhere that deeper water comes close to that outside moss edge. Don't be afraid to throw this bait in the middle of the day, under a bright sun, with no surface activity in sight. Apparently, the blooping, side-to-side, rattlin' action of the "Bug" fools the bass into thinking that a baitfish is injured and will make an easy meal.
Let's talk a little about fishing technique.
A "Bug" can be made to "walk the dog" in a side-to-side fashion that works so well with a Zarra Spook. This method is difficult to describe with words and is best learned by watching someone execute the technique properly and then it becomes a simple process of imitation. I'll make a clumsy attempt here to describe the motions, but it'll be a lot quicker and easier to obtain a first hand demonstration. After the cast, face the lure and hold your rod almost straight down and close to the water. Reel most, but not all, of the slack out of your line and give your rod a jerk. Here is where most people have their problems. I don't know how to describe the exact amount of slack to leave in your line, but I can say this, too little slack and you simply pull the bait straight through the water. Too much slack and the bait won't move when you jerk. What should happen following this jerk of your rod is that the head of your Bug should move to one side. Here is where timing becomes important. While the head of your Bug is still to one side and before the tension on the line pulls the bait back straight, jerk the rod again. Done properly, this will swing the head of your Bug to the other side. Somewhere in this process we have probably developed some slack in our line, so while you are concentrating on timing your rod jerk, you also have turn your reel handle just enough to maintain the proper amount of slack in your line.
Now you just repeat this cadence, all the way back to the boat. Back and forth, jerk, reel, jerk, reel, slash, slash. I get excited just talking about it. You are just trying to imitate an injured baitfish trying to avoid being eaten by a hungry bass. Don't be afraid to experiment and try to let the bass tell you what they want. If a great old big 'un eats your bait while you're picking out a backlash, then slow down or if one tries to commit suicide while you're reeling in fast to make another cast, then speed up.
Which reminds me, don't forget to fish the bait all the way to the boat. A lot of strikes will occur just before you pick your bait up to make another cast. One last thing about technique, don't set the hook until you feel the fish on the end of your line. If you set the hook when you hear the strike, you'll miss probably 60% of your fish. I know that this is difficult advice to follow, but it is a "must do."
Like most topwater baits, this is a really fun bait to fish. It comes in three different sizes. The Baby Bug is fairly small and is great when those schoolies are bustin' glass minnows or shad fry. You might also try a Baby Bug if the bass are not really takin' your larger bait or if you're getting more swirls than hits. The Original Chug Bug is 3/8 oz. and is a great fish catcher. The Big Bug is a larger version that works great when you're going for that big bite. My favorite color is chrome/blue back if the bass seem to be feeding on shad. A bullfrog colored Bug works good around the pepper grass beds when the bream are on the beds in May and June.
Let's briefly touch on equipment. For line, I prefer fresh, premium quality green 14 or 17 pound test monofilament. I use a 6'6" medium-heavy action Fenwick worm rod (model HMX T66MH). Also, I like to use a quality, high-speed baitcasting reel with a thumb bar release such as an Abu Garcia 4600C3, UC4600C3 or TP3600C.
I sincerely hope that at least some of the information that I have provided was enlightening or maybe entertaining but most of all helpful and educational. If you would like some first hand instruction on black bass fishing on Lake Livingston or Sam Rayburn, I guide full time on both of these lakes and specialize in educational trips with an emphasis on advanced black bass fishing techniques. I can be reached at (409) 327-1932.
Toward the end of September, the temperatures should start going down a little, but right the heat index is hitting triple digits with annoying regularity. Don't forget to take plenty of cold water with you in the boat and don't forget to drink it!!! Dehydration can sneak up on you, so force yourself to slow down and drink something. Until next time, catch all you can and release all you catch. Good luck, be safe out there and may God bless.