by Bob Jensen

A young fisherman holding up a largemouth bass he caught on Buzzard Buzzer buzzbait. 

Fishing is fun: That’s why we go fishing. And it’s more fun when we catch some fish. And there are some techniques that are more fun to employ. Throwing topwater baits for largemouth bass is one of those techniques that are really fun. Seeing a wake approaching your floating lure, then seeing the bass explode on it is exciting. However, there aren’t as many situations when the bass are as willing to take a topwater as there are when they’ll accept a worm or a crankbait. But when conditions are right, topwaters are fun and productive. Following are some ideas for getting in on a topwater bite.

This time of year, early and late in the day are probably the best times for topwaters. Overcast days can be good also. When the sun is bright and the skies are clear in mid to late summer, it’s harder to get a bass to take a bait off the surface unless there is a lot of overhead cover such as lily-pads. An hour or two after sun-up, and an hour or two before the sun goes down are usually the best times for topwaters, especially on clear water lakes.

Topwater baits are especially productive in a couple of areas. If you see panfish dimpling the surface of the water over or near deep weedbeds, a topwater fishing lure, like the Buzzard Buzzer can be good. Just start throwing it over the weeds and around the panfish.

Shallow cover can be good also. The cover can be in the form of rushes, lily-pads, timber laying in the water, even boat docks or boat lifts.

One of the keys to catching bass on topwater lures is to not get too excited when a bass approaches and hits your bait. That’s hard to do: It’s natural to get excited when you think you’re about to get bit. When you see the bass take your bait, drop the rod tip, and wait for just a second or two. Make sure the fish has the bait in its mouth. Then set the hook. A softer action rod can be better because the softer action slows the hookset a bit. Cabela’s has a nice topwater rod in their Tournament ZX line of bass rods.

If you want to fish right in the lily-pads, and that can be very productive at times, you’ll want to go with a weedless spoon like a Jaw-Breaker. This bait was designed to be fished on the surface. Use a heavier rod and heavier line when fishing this heavy cover with the spoon.

For fishing in more open areas, the bait doesn’t need to be weedless. Last year I was introduced to a new topwater bait called the Bass-Bug. This bait isn’t a traditional topwater bait. It’s got a small lip that gives it lots of action as it’s retrieved. It runs right under the surface. The Bass Bug is a strange-looking bait but it sure catches fish. You can cast the bait a long way, and that’s a good thing to prevent spooking bass when they’re near the surface.

I’m not sure about the importance of lure color. Baits that are painted to look like frogs are productive and catch fish, but so do baits that look like nothing that lives in a lake. I do like baits with a darker belly.

Now is a great time to be throwing crankbaits for largemouth bass. Remember, delay your hookset just for an instant and you’ll be catching bass on the surface.

PHOTO CAPTION: A young Jace Peterson with a nice largemouth bass. This time of year, fish topwater baits early and late in the day for the most success.

To see all the most recent episodes of the Fishing the Midwest television series, new fishing-related tips, and fishing articles from the past, go to If you do Facebook, check us out for a variety of fishing-related things.

Posted in