If you choose the right lure styles for the situation and go at the right times, summer topwater fishing can be outstanding. Here’s what you need to know.
Late summer can be a tumultuous time to fish due to ultra-hot temps and uncooperative fish, which seem to turn their nose up to every presentation possible. The one saving grace is the topwater action you can find early in the morning or late in the evening, when bass have their short feeding periods. These periods give way to some intense action, if the right lures are chosen for the given situation. Detailed below are my top picks, by action, for late summer topwater bassin’!
This is the cream of the crop, as far as late summer topwaters go. A walking baits is any topwater lure that can sashay back and forth on top with pops of the rod tip. These lures drive bass mad in any part of the country, no matter the water clarity.
I choose most often the Heddon line of Spooks in their various designs and sizes. My main picks are the Super Spook, Super Spook Jr, and new Super Spook Boyo. I tend to choose a model that best matches the forage species on the lake or river. Spooks work great for water that is on the clearer side and when little wind is present due to their cautious slide on top that moves little water.
When wind or other factors cause the water to be disturbed, I reach for the Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper, which creates so much wake and disturbance no bass can deny it. The 4.5-inch version works wonders for smaller species, but the larger 6- and 7-inch models can be deployed on lakes with larger bass.
Both models work great around schooling fish chasing bait near the surface or for calling up suspended bass near offshore structure or depth changes. My best tip for using walking baits like these is to cover as much water as possible because they can act like fish finders that stumble upon schools of bass suspended in unknown places.
Poppers are another type of topwater lure that consistently crank out big bass summer after summer. Poppers are any type of topwater lure that has a cupped mouth to chug about on the surface, creating racket. These baits are excellent for casting near visible targets along shorelines or in shallow water scenarios. This is because they can be worked extremely slow to entice bites out of spooky fish hanging in skinny water. Perfect for fishing in dirty water like the Arkansas River, which has ample cover near the bank to probe.
I choose often the BOOYAH Boss Pop because of its ability to walk, chug, and spit. It consistently gets bit by changing retrieve and looking better than any on the market. Check out the Bone Shiner pattern and you will know what I mean!
But we can’t forget the legendary Rebel Pop-R, which started the popper craze many years ago. It still receives playing time due to its unique ability to chug and barely move near a piece of cover. Work these baits with slight pops of the rod tip to cause them to chug and move water, and believe me, the slower the better with poppers!
Prop baits are like poppers, but instead of a cupped mouth they have a spinner attached to the head and/or tail portion. This spinner or prop causes water to be disturbed, with a unique sound that drives bass mad! Prop baits are perfect for fishing in the springtime when bass are shallow on beds or for fishing near shallow cover or schooling fish.
Models such as the Cotton Cordell Crazy Shad work well for target fishing near shallow bream beds, or even for chasing bass busting on small shad. The small profile catches fish of all kinds, but if I want a slightly larger profile, I reach for the Cotton Cordell Boy Howdy. It has a slenderer body and causes more commotion on the surface. The Boy Howdy is perfect for springtime fishing over bass bedding because its profile seems to slip around shallow cover and grass extremely well.
These can be worked just like poppers, with short pops of slack line, but I recommend fishing them very slowly to entice bites!
Buzzbaits are undoubtably my favorite topwater lure to throw for late-summer bass. The buzzbait holds the uncanny ability to pull big bass out of water that seems as if it couldn’t even hold a bluegill. They act like miracle workers! They are also extremely user-friendly and fun to fish because you simply cast and reel while watching your bait, anticipating a blow up.
My favorite two options for the buzzbait are the War Eagle Buzz Toad and regular War Eagle Buzzbait. The Buzz Toad is a buzzbait frame but instead of a skirt it features a soft plastic YUM Tip Toad, and it works great in open water situations or when around ample large shad. The standard buzzbait is my choice when bass are finicky and need something a little more finesse. You almost can’t do wrong by waking up early and tossing a buzzbait down shallow banks in the summer. Try it, and you will be impressed!
Frogs are the most exciting topwater lure known to man due to the ferocious blow ups that occur when bass plunge on them. Frogs are categorized in two types: either a hollow body like a BOOYAH Pad Crasher or a soft body such as the YUM Tip Toad.
I like to fish both around heavy vegetation, but choose the Pad Crasher around the heaviest stuff so I can walk slowly and still make some commotion. If I’m around sparse grass I always pick up the Tip Toad to cover water and find fish. The soft body frog models are definitely more user friendly and just require a cast and reel retrieve. The hollow bodies require heavy equipment and some precise working to get them to walk correctly to produce strikes.
All of the options listed above are in my personal tackle boxes, and I use them every time I hit the water when I get the chance! The best tips for fishing these great lures, though, is quite simple. Always wake up early and beat the sun to the water for the best topwater experiences in the late summer.
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