Lakecaster Online

"Shake, "Rattle and "Roll, -Big Sam Topwater
By Jim Franklin


Anticipation was high as Rayburn Tackle Pro/Guide Carl Wright, his client Jamie Brasher and myself slipped his Ranger into the cool still waters of Big Sam at dawn. This early November morning was highlighted by a heavy fog, which hung around like marshmallow cream on the roof of your mouth. My concerns for a lack of compass and low visibility went unheeded as Carl launched his water rocket into the day. After a short ride we had reached our destination.

It looked like a minnow, walked like a spook, and sounded like a chug bug. "What's that?", I asked my fishing buddy. "A Spit-n-Image Jr.," informed Carl as he explained how in the short span of about 14 months it had become his "Go To Bait" when fishing topwaters. I wondered aloud, "If this was a Jr. version was there a larger size?" "Yes, but it doesn't seem to be as effective on this particular body of water as most of the shad in the lake are of the smaller variety," Carl stated. I watched hypnotized by the cadence he set with side to side action, jerk-jerk-jerk-jerk-pause-jerk-jerk-jerk-GAWOOSH! I was awakened from my trance by a scrappy 4 pound bucketmouth inhaling my friends bait. After combing our efforts for several hours we managed to catch and release approximately 20 bass with several in the 3 to 5 pound range. As the bite slowed we decided to discuss the characteristics of this exciting new bait over a local favorite "Stumpburger" lunch.

I had to know more so as we ate Carl explained the need to experiment with retrieval speeds and cadence, noting that as with all topwater baits there are times when the fish want it fast and times when they prefer a slower moving bait. Sometimes with more or longer pauses, and sometimes with no pause at all, but a continuous steady retrieve. He suggested another hint that I've found to be effective also. "If the fish misses this bait, immediately begin moving the bait again", he said. A popular old timers theory is to leave the bait motionless to allow the fish to strike again and this approach may work on occasion, but if you've ever witnessed a bass rolling on a shad and missing, you can bet the next thing you saw was that minnow high tailing it out of there quickly! With this approach you have a more natural predator to prey relationship. Try it the next time you're on the water.

After a short break and a fair amount of time spent honing our couch potato skills, we decided to try our luck topwater bassin' again. As we arrived at our evening honey hole the sun hung low in the sky. We had timed arrival approximately as the wildlife had come alive all around us. For the sake of argument I decided to fish a Zara spook and issued a challenge to my fishing buddy and Mr. Brasher, who was already sold on the Spit-n-Image Jr. Could this new bait stand up against a time proven standard such as the spook? After an evening of adrenaline pumped "explosions" there was the issue of score. Although the old standard put up an admirable fight, the new kid on the block had it's day today! (or maybe I just got front ended) Zara spook - 7 bass, 1 short fish. Spit-n-Image Jr. - 11 bass, 3 short fish, and a couple of 6 lb class knotheads! What a way to end the day.

Folks, Sam Rayburn simply has some of the best top water fishing found anywhere. Most anglers will tell you that catchin' fish on top ranks as their favorite technique for fooling them ole greenbacks. The visual and audible stimulation is second to none in the world of bass fishing, or any type of fishing. Don't be afraid to experiment with new baits on the market as you may well find yourself a new "go to bait". Don't leave the house without your old standards either. Baits like the chug bug, buzzbait, pop-r, or jerkbaits will each have a situation for which they are more effective than their respective top water cousins. Be sure to try different retrieval speeds and cadence. Experiment with different sizes and colors. For heaven sake don't limit your topwater fishing to spring and fall. With our mild winters that we have here you can catch fish on top all four seasons of the year when conditions are right. Catchin' bass on top is also a proven method for putting a good limit of "tournament" bass in the livewell.

All the guides at Rayburn Tackle love to do trips tailored to the topwater enthusiast. However, we will throw whatever they're takin'. For more information on booking bass or crappie trips for whole or half day sessions on lakes Sam Rayburn or Toledo Bend, call Rayburn Tackle at 1-888-BIG-HAWG or 409-698-8343 (day) or 409-698-9644 (night). Whether you want to book a trip or just need an updated fishing report we'd like to hear from you. You can also find us on the world wide web at

Brasher with early topwater bites

Carl Wright with Big Sam bass

Jim Franklin with topwater baits that put this 9 lb topwater on the wall

Back to Lakecaster Online contents