Topwater action heats up

By By Mike Giles/The Meridian Star
July 1, 2001
As the temperature soars into the upper 90's, most bass retreat to deeper water or bury up in cover. Late in the afternoon, however, the bass become more active. As the sun sets, the oxygen content in most lakes is at its peak and the bass will move up from their deep water haunts to troll the shallows in search of baitfish.
Most of the surface activity will start around 7 p.m. and steadily increase right up to and after the sun sets. On one trip to an area lake this past week, my fishing partner and I caught several bass on Zoom trick worms fished in and around pads and grass. Early in the evening there was not much surface activity. However, if you could work the worms slowly in and around the grass, you would get a bite. Most of the time the bass would inhale the worms and not even move. If you weren't careful they would swallow the worm before you could set the hook. The bass hit black colored worms until we ran out. We had almost equal success on June bug colored worms.
The fun starts
As the sun started going down, the surface activity picked up with several bass striking baitfish on the surface. Since I love to catch bass on topwater baits, I promptly picked up a rod that was pre-rigged with a white Rattling Chug Bug. Shortly thereafter a nice bass hit the surface while chasing shad. I cast out just past the ripples and retrieved the bait in a walk the dog side-to-side cadence. As the bait darted back and forth it spit water out in front of it, mimicking the sound of baitfish flitting on the surface. Before it passed the point where the bass had struck, it was smashed with such fury that I was sure a lunker had engulfed it. Alas, it was only a two-pounder, but it provided some kind of fight before I landed and released it.
For the next 30 minutes or so this scene was repeated over and over. Once I detected the presence of a bass on the surface, I simply had to cast beyond the bass and work the bait back over the strike zone. Not many bass could resist the Chug Bug, mistaking it for an easy meal! Although I enjoy catching bass any time on any type of bait, the thrill of a topwater strike is unmatched. Several times the bass would slap the bait out of the water 2 or 3 times before hooking up.
Fast or slow?
I prefer to work the bait in a fast erratic, walk-the-dog pattern; but there is not a bad way to fish the lure. One angler whom I know prefers to fish this chugger-type lure in a slow, methodical retrieve back to the boat. As he retrieves the bait it emits a steady bloop, bloop, bloop, sound that is irresistible to bass. That technique is also responsible for putting 5 to 7 pound bass in the boat.
There are several different types of chuggers that are productive when worked a variety of ways. I prefer the tried and proven Rattling Chug Bug.
There's nothing quite as exciting as spending a late summer afternoon on the water catching topwater bass. For those anglers who pick the right time and place, the rewards will be plentiful and exciting. Although I prefer to release most of the bass that I catch, there seems to be plenty for the skillet in most area lakes and rivers. According to some biologists, we need to harvest more of the small bass, which just also happen to be the most tender and tasty of all. So don't delay. Head to your favorite fishing hole and experience some of the best topwater fishing of the year!