By: Joe Balog
For many bass fishing junkies, topwater explosions stand alone as the sport’s most exciting moments. Digging through heavy cover for the lunker fish within is always a winning program. But combining the two together – utilizing topwaters in the thickest of trash – can be a recipe for an unforgettable experience.
However, not all topwater lures are at home in nasty big bass lairs, and few can get the job done in terms of presentation. To up your odds, heavy cover topwaters must be both attractive and efficient.
First off, it’s important to think in terms of your daily fishing goals and be realistic about achieving them. For serious trophy hunters, a few bites a day often suffice, as they have potential to produce the bass of a lifetime.
Living and working in the trophy bass belt, I’m fortunate to be able to target huge fish living in heavy cover. I can assure you, very few topwater lures are up to the challenge of bringing out the biggest of bass.
Single Hook Topwater Baits
It’s important to recognize that single-hook baits are far more efficient at presentation, as well as hooking and landing big fish, than treble-hook baits. For that reason, I lean on two specific lures more than any others when hunting topwater trophies.
Buzzbaits have long been known to be big bass producers, and continue to outshine nearly every other choice. The specific prey species a buzzbait mimics is not really known – I’ve heard everything from birds to shad to frogs – but, in any case, big bass eat them. In addition, buzzbaits can be fished through the thickest of cover.
I’ve found two keys to buzzbait fishing for trophy bass:
- Utilize a dark bait. In my experience, dark lures and blades seem to work best for giant bass when buzzbaiting.
- More importantly, only retrieve the bait fast enough to barely keep it on the surface. Most bass anglers think of a buzzbait as a lure intended for speedy fishing, but the opposite is true for trophy bass. They seem to prefer the bait moving as slowly as possible.
Topwater hollow-body frogs are another highly efficient big bass producer. Although not truly a single-hook lure (as most frogs have two hookpoints), these lures feature very large stout hooks that are capable of moving a big bass through heavy cover. When combined with braided line, no lure is as efficient at landing a hooked bass than a frog.
Again, it’s important to recognize that like a buzzbait, part of a frog lure’s appeal in heavy cover is it’s efficiency and fishability. Rarely does a hollow frog foul in the thick stuff. When fishing for giant bass with a frog, try slowing the retrieve down to a series of rod tip shakes producing a lure that trembles, rather than walking the bait back to the boat.
A quick tackle tip: Both frog lures and buzzbaits are susceptible to skirts that gum-up after use. To prevent such, dry the lures thoroughly by leaving them on the deck of the boat for a few minutes after fishing. Then, store them in a Plano Waterproof Stowaway. The lures look like new even after repeated use.
Treble Hook Topwater Baits
Although treble-hooked topwaters play second-fiddle in my arsenal, they do produce giant fish on occasion. The appeal of the original Rapala floating minnow cannot be denied. This lure has been slowly twitched on the surface by generations of fishermen, resulting in more huge bass than any other hardbait that I’ve seen. When fishing around heavy cover, I utilize the largest Rapala available – in this case seven inches long – as it represents a more noticeable target for big bass around and within heavy vegetation. In addition, I replace factory trebles with double-strong VMC models that increase my odds in a fight with a monster.
Efficient topwater choices are somewhat limited in heavy cover for big bass. It’s often difficult to find an effective lure that comes through cover clean, and remains attractive to fish. But those that produce often do so with memories that last a lifetime.
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