By Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service
Website: www.fishingalabama.com Face book too!
The fun isn’t over yet! As spring comes to an end, southern anglers that have “reaped the rewards of success” (mostly contributed to fishing in shallow water for bass), can often unknowingly continue to enjoy the thrill of the strike right, on into the summer months.
A very visible strike…that occurs from tempting these big, largemouth bass, that is, with the use of many, various types of topwater lures!
Bass are notorious for their aerial acrobatics, explosive blow-ups and in general, their hard fighting runs, often refusing to give up the battle!
Weak? I don’t think so.
Sure, these big female bass have been stressed out from the rigors of the spring spawn.
They do get weak, contributed mostly from not eating very much (often going for many days at a time with no food intake), and weak from protecting the bed, while constantly chasing away those pesky egg-eating intruders. But those days are over for now.
Even during the early summer months after the post spawn period, though weak, they must expend their short supply of very needed energy, while these big bass continue running away (or now eating), those newborn fry-eating pests like bream, minnows, shad, crayfish, lizards or even other bass!
Just after laying over 10,000 eggs each spring season these big bass are characterized as being very weak. In part this is true. But only for a short period right after they spawn.
After the spring spawn has ceased, they actually do not have the very needed energy it takes to chase down the day’s next meal. So many big female bass just lay in wait (hidden among shallow growing aquatic weeds or buried up in some form of wood cover), awaiting (while conserving energy), on the next unsuspecting prey to pass by.
Usually, its an easy-to-catch meal.
If shallow water cover is sparse, some of these big, female largemouth bass may just suspend in the lake’s mid-depths — not far from the shallows — while feeding on passing-by schools of baitfish, or while scrounging the lake’s bottom for those easy-to-catch bottom prey such as worms, snakes, frogs, lizards and crayfish. Some big bass constantly cruise the lake’s shallows looking for meals, both during the day and at night.
Weak? Maybe. But not for long. Summer shows most bass fattening up…real fast!
Being fond of seeing a big bass explode on a well maneuvered and well cast topwater offering does have its rewards. After my going through a lifetime of fishing (while tempting all species of Alabama born bass), with various types of topwater lures, it is a reward that is fulfilled…every time I get a strike!
Over the past forty-plus years of fishing for bass in every season, I can honestly say, ”from early-to-late spring, during the early portion of summer right on into early winter, several of my rods are rigged with some sort of topwater lure or sub-surface lure”.
Whether its during a guided fishing trip, with Reeds Guide Service, to any Alabama lake, or during one of many major bass tournaments I fish each year, or while just plain fishing, I’m going to be throwing a topwater lure! Yes, often, even during the cold winter months as well!
Its an affliction…I’m sure many anglers can relate to.
As summer progresses anglers should be rigged and ready for some of the year’s best topwater action! But novice anglers should be aware, some lures are weed less, while others, those featuring several weed-grabbing treble hooks especially, are not. Many of today’s more acclaimed, weed less model lures, can be fished right up in the many different varieties of aquatic weeds our lakes have to offer.
By now, sales on various types of topwater lures, have most astute anglers tackle boxes crammed full of all kinds of weed less offerings. If not, its time to re-stock with all these topwater lures and other favorites. There are weedless topwater lures and some not-so-weedless topwater lures. Both types are good, all summer long.
Lets start with something that goes down good, frogs! And small mice (or rats). By the beginning of summer frogs and mice become a very stable part of a big, old lazy largemouth bass daily meals. (See: “Fun with Frogs and Rats” at the articles link at www.fishingalabama.com.) So do mice or small rodents, found running along the waters edge often in just inches of water.
As these meals are consumed, bass find they go down easy. They like em’! No spines or fins to stick the inside of the bass mouth and frogs are also generally, pretty easy for these bass to catch. They become a big part of these bass daily diet.
These frogs (or mice), are either attacked as the bass lays in wait, hiding among the shallow weeds, or they are chased down and quickly consumed, if they happen to “get in over their head,” as some say. For no matter how fast they are , no frog or mouse can out swim a big bass in his/her element.
Their fate is sealed once they are spotted. As daily revealed, by the very evident explosions you and others experience with your fake frogs, and in addition, you and other anglers also hear them feeding both day and at night, in the weeds as these big bass cruise the shallows. These very exciting explosions can evidently be seen as these big bass consume your fake frog and rat offerings! There are many types of both frog and rodent imitation lures on today’s market for anglers to choose from.
Frog lure models are many. There are even many types of mice (or rat) imitations as well. Most anglers fish with either a hollow-bodied frog adorned with two trailing legs or some kind of skirt material for legs. These frog imitations have two upturned hooks that hug the frogs body, making them very weedless.
When a bass attacks these type of hollow-bodied frog lures the lure is inhaled as the bass flairs its gills taking in the lure. Then the powerful jaws of ol’ bigmouth clamps down on the lure’s body, causing it to collapse. This then reveals the lures two upturned hooks.
Hook sets should be slow, deliberate and very hard. Always meaning, anglers must self train themselves to instinctively “not set the hook” to fast. Which usually results in missed strikes and unfortunately no fish.
You must first either wait until you feel the bass as it takes in the frog imitation or visually wait until you see the lure actually disappear…before setting the hook.
Other frog imitations (and there are many), are solid-bodied plastic frogs or rubber frogs requiring rigging with just one big single hook. These are often fished with a slow steady retrieve, similar to fishing with a buzz bait, resulting in heart pounding strikes or a times just a slight slurp!
Even the trailing legs on some frog models disturb the waters surface when fast retrieved, sounding just like a buzz bait, or an old favorite topwater lure, the jitterbug.
Strong line, stought equipment (such as wide spooled reels) and long rods with plenty of backbone for setting the hook, and for horsing these big, tackle-testing bass away from thick cover, are a must have situation and are suggested for fishing with frogs or rats.
Long casts far back in and around thick matted weeds, all around and right through isolated patches of weeds, targeting small lanes in the weeds, or fishing weedy points or holes within the weeds, are the best tactics for fishing weeds with frogs and rats.
As summer gets underway our lake’s aquatic weeds often feature rich new, green growth. Bass can be caught out of one foot of water in these new growing, oxygen-rich weeds. Summer weeds get thicker as summer progresses.
Those same weeds are good for bass that stick around their rich green homes and as these aquatic weeds continue to grow and become thicker, it provides them with an even more secure shade-giving home. Some of these “big bass” may be in shallow water around our lake’s many types of aquatic weeds, going unmolested throughout most of the summer season.
Some bass stay here in the shallows all summer long and often on into the fall season and even into early winter. They may not even leave these weedy shallows until a cold winter day forces them (and the frog meals), to hide in thick cover, hibernate somewhat or head back to the security of deeper water.
So not only are frogs and rats good lure choices now, but for the next 6 months in summer, fall and early winter anglers should choose various frog and mice (or rat), lure models, have them rigged and ready and always fish them at least some on any fishing trip. You may discover they work!
Many years ago soft plastic lure manufactures discovered a way to inject air into their lures such as worms to help create a high floating worm when fished weightless, or if fished with some added weight to create a slower falling worm with a very enticing wiggle. (See: “The Floating Worm” article link at: www.fishingalabama.com)
Companies such a Zoom Lures quickly came out with their on model floating worm, the “Zoom Trick Worm”, which quickly flooded the lure market and was an instant success.
Today’s floating worms come in many makes, styles, lengths and some in new colors. Colors so bright many bass have never even seen one that even looked similar.
Back then, these brightly colored floating worms were a totally new look for anglers to present those already pressured bass and the bass ate em’ up. Sales were good back then, and they still are phenomenal today!
Colors of bubblegum, white, yellow or methiolate can easily be seen by anglers while fishing with these floating worms in and around weeds, wood cover and rock cover. They work any where…year round! Yes, even in the winter months!
Unlike when fishing with frog and rat imitations, floating worms perform best when fished with lighter line, in the 10-15 pound test category. Some anglers use monofilament line, some use fluorocarbon or lighter braided line. They are light lures and can be very aggravating when attempting to fish them weightless in the wind.
* There is a bigger model,” Zoom Magnum Trick Worm” that is thicker and cast better in windy conditions, using a bigger 4/0 to 5/0 size, wide bend Gamakatsu worm hook is suggested.
Fishing with the wind to your back when working down a weedy bank, is a must for less frustration, with reel backlashes, and for correctly fishing these floating worms. Or find a place out of the wind.
You must also utilize a good pair of polarized sunglasses and try to always fish with the sun to your back as well, to hope for any degree of success with floating worms.
There is more to fishing a floating worm than most anglers know. Its not your standard worm retrieve. Although floating worms work great just fishing down the bank, picking a target is best. Like aquatic weeds. Make a long cast past the weed bed and allow the worm to sink a few inches.
Then begin a slow walking retrieve, similar to walking the dog with a topwater lure like the Heddon Zara Spook. Only this is a sub-surface retrieve. Keep eye contact with the lure at all times unless you deliberately drop it alongside weedy cover or wood cover.
Oversized, thick-shanked hooks like a 3/0 to 4/0 size hook can help add needed weight for better casting distance. Also you can add rattles to the tail of these floating worms. Adding rattles gives more weight for casting, creates a little more action in the tail and it helps the bass track down the worm with an increased noise.
* Note – For fishing a Floating Worm. Always use a medium to heavy model 6 – 6 1/2 foot long rod and set the hook hard, to avoid missed strikes!
Like floating worms, soft bodied jerkbaits can be deadly on bass lurking in the weeds. Including wood and rock cover. These baitfish imitating soft plastics, can be fished Texas-rigged and weightless. With an oversized 3/0 to 4/0 Wide bend Gamakatsu Hook to help penetrate the thick lure body, after a strong hook set.
Or some anglers rig them on a very small 1/8 to 1/32 ounce jig head or rig them with a small bullet weight and hook. This added weight aids the lure in creating a slow falling lure for targeting bass holding around weed lines, around piers and boat houses, around wood cover like trees, brush piles and stumps, or even along man made rip-rap rocks or deep rock bluffs.
Like floating worms, soft bodied jerkbaits can be fished virtually any time, any where, and fished year round! A slow deliberate jerking action is suggested with soft jerk baits. Keep it in eye contact as much as possible to avoid missed strikes!
Colors can vary (yes, there are even bubblegum-colored soft jerkbaits) but most anglers lean more toward baitfish colors like white, pearl, watermelon, bream, glitter based colors or alewife colors.
These are just a few topwater lure choices for targeting bass this summer. Just because it gets hot does not mean the bass have to go to deep water. Neither should you! Think shallow for more Big, Summer Bass!
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