How Top Water Bass Fishing Works

By: Sarah Siddons
Fishing Image Gallery Largemouth Bass diving for lure. See more fishing pictures.
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Fishing is both an exciting and relaxing pastime -- just ask any angler. Top water bass fishing has been described as the most visual and powerful kind of fishing. This often-neglected­ form is not only fun but can yield decent catch numbers. Whether in a boat or onshore, top water fishing is both challenging and fun.

Top water fishing uses top water lures -- designed to float above the surface of shallow water. Lures are cast upon the surface to mimic the noise and shape of insects, small fish or other food bass prey on. The presence of bass c­lose to the surface makes for an exciting hunt. Bass cutting through the water's surface is enough to make even the most seasoned fishermen's heart race.


The extensive array of terminology, gear and techniques can make fishing seem like something best suited for the pros. However, if you remember just a few key points, you may find yourself with a brand new hobby. Just as with other types of fishing, there are certain conditions, equipment and techniques to know before you start off on your trip.

Ready to go? First things first: Check the weather.



When Top Water Bass Fishing Is Best

As with most outdoor sports, weather conditions can often affect the outcome of your ­performance. The season, time of day and weather can determine how productive your top water experience can be.

Top water fishing is best during the post-spawn, late spring season and into the fall months. After spawning, the fish are sluggish, starving and looking for food. In the summertime, the bass' metabolism has kicked into high gear and will provide a fun retrieval challenge. In autumn, the water temperatures are still warm enough to keep the bass biting.


Fish are cold-blooded and prefer to hang out in warmer waters. The colder the water, the lower the bass' body temperature and the slower the fish. You can still fish in cold water, but you must adjust your bait and lures accordingly. If the water temperature is too high, oxygen levels at the surface will decrease, making bass less likely to come to the surface.

Dawn and dusk are the most appropriate times of day for bass. Bass are sensitive to light, so fishing under low light or cloud cover is best. Fish have a highly tuned internal barometer and are sensitive to storms and fronts. They will stay under deep water during a cold snap or a heavy rain; fishing will be better before a cold front comes in or before a storm.

There are other factors that you can take into account, such as tides and water levels. You can even go so far as to check your lake's generation schedule. These schedules give you a fairly in-depth look at the characteristics of a particular lake and may even tell you the perfect time to go fishing for record breaking bass.

You can't go fishing without a pole -- or bait! Read on to find the best ones.



Top Water Bass Fishing Bait


Top water lures are made with materials like wood, hollow rubber or hard plastics. Th­ey're designed to float on the surface while the angler maneuvers the lures to move like fish prey. Each lure is designed to look, move and sound like the food bass hunt for. The vast quantity of available lures may seem overwhelming, but here is a basic overview of the more popular top water lures:


  • Poppers are small lures that work well for surface feeding fish. The concave, open mouth makes a popping sound when the lure hits the water. These are action-less lures that must be maneuvered by the angler.
  • Buzzbaits are some of the most popular lures for top water fishing. A propeller blade is connected to one wire while the other wire carries the hook and most of the weight. These lures are easy to navigate through roughage such as murky water or heavy weeds. The sound and visibility of buzzbait is very attractive to bass fish.
  • Surface lures are designed to look like frogs, flies and other insects of interest to fish. Made specifically to float on the surface of the water, these lures are also called "surface walkers" and move in a side-to-side motion. These lures may be tough to operate in rough water.

Lure color should match the color of the food available to the fish in the water. For example, if the fish mostly feed off of small, green frogs, a dominantly green lure will be your best bet. The secondary colors should come from the surrounding conditions. If it is night, a secondary black lure will work best. In clear conditions, a lure with clear or white secondary coloring will bring the best results.

Next, we'll take a look at some tips from the pros.


Top Water Bass Fishing Techniques

The No. 1 rule for top water fishing is always to keep your eye on the lure. An explosion of bass from the water may happen at any second, so it is important to always re­main attuned to what's happening in the water.

­Tension on the line is also key. When maneuvering or just waiting for a bite, the line must be held tight enough so it doesn't tangle or get pulled away from you, but not too tight. Leave a bit of slack on the line and make a snapping motion with your wrist to set the hook [source: Bassdozer].


One of the biggest challenges anglers face in top water fishing is the hook. The excitement of seeing the bass about to bite will cause many to jump the gun. Once you feel the bass on your line, take a deep breath and wait until you feel the pull of its weight. Snap your wrist to set the hook, and then reel your fish in!

When top water fishing, use the lightest line you can find. This will allow for more maneuvering and movement with less work. If you plan on fishing top and deep waters, keep a rod with a top water lure close. When you see a bass top feeding nearby, grab the rod and cast your lure over to the fish [source: Cromwell].

The maneuver and retrieval are equally important in the success of a catch. The amount of noise and motion a lure makes is what attracts the fish to the hook. The speed of retrieval must be timed appropriately to capture and bring the bass back to you.

To find out more about top water bass fishing, visit the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • "Bass Fishing Resource Guide: Top Water Lures." Bass Fishing Resource. (Accessed 7 Nov 2008)
  • Bassdozer, Russ. "Topwater Talk." Bassdozer Worldwide Bass Fishing. (Accessed 7 Nov 2008)
  • Cromwell, E.S.. "Staying on Top for Top Water Fishing." (Accessed 7 Nov 2008)
  • "Fishing-Top Water Lures." (Accessed 7 Nov 2008)
  • Illinois High School Association. "Board Approves Bass Fishing Terms & Conditions; Acts on Recommendations in Other Sports & Activities" May 2008. (Accessed 17 Nov 2008)
  • Kugler, Trevor. "Some Great Tips for Top Water Fishing." (Accessed 7 Nov 2008)
  • Roth, Robert. KISS Guide to Fishing. 1. New York: DK Publishing, INC, 2001.
  • "When to Fish." Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. (Accessed 7 Nov 2008)
  • "Lures and Rigs." Take Me (Accessed 7 Nov 2008)