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Turbulent Topwaters
Discover why the West’s top professional bass anglers use topwater baits now -- long before the dog days of summer set in.

Pro angler Kent Brown picked up this spotted bass on a topwater in early spring.
Photo by Chris Shaffer

Gary Dobyns doesn't enjoy fishing with jigs or plastic worms. Dobyns, who has made millions of dollars as a professional bass angler, thinks it's boring. He's a power fisherman. He likes action, which is why he throws topwater baits from late spring through fall.

"Anytime I can get bass to eat topwater, I'll do it, because you'll always catch the best fish," says Dobyns, the all-time leading money winner in the West. His favorite time to throw topwater is May and early June, when "they haven't seen the baits as much. There aren't as many people throwing topwater."

Topwater can be a vital tool, especially in early spring. While summer and fall are common months to throw topwater, many folks refrain from using these baits until the heat of summer arrives. On the other hand, late spring offers topwater anglers an opportunity to capitalize on targeting fish that haven't seen topwater baits for months.


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"The fish aren't conditioned to seeing topwater again, so they are easier to fool. The bites are ferocious," he added. "I throw topwater early in the season as much as I can."

Anglers who don't wait for the summer heat find that success with topwater baits can come even while most bass are spawning. While some bass are winding down on the spawn, others have already headed into post-spawn and are feeding up again -- and those bass are sure to grab topwater baits.

The great thing about topwater is that except for open water in the middle of a lake, there isn't a bad place to fish it. The trick is correlating the topwater bait you are throwing with the type of water you're fishing. When fishing open water, it's ideal to cast the mainstays of walking-type baits -- Zara Spooks, Pop-Rs, Ricos and buzzbaits.

"I believe that the Super Spook absolutely just pisses the fish off. Whether it's the big load or the clanking ball in it, they just don't like it," Dobyns said. "I think they think a Pop-R is a fish. And they try to get it because they are trying to eat it. They will inhale the entire thing. A buzzbait looks like a baitfish that's breaking on the surface and there's a fish after it."

The above-mentioned baits are effective in any place that doesn't have vegetation, such as off of points and around cover. But when you are faced with only pockets of water to fish because of dense vegetation, a frog, Johnson's spoon (a chrome spoon with a weed guard) or a buzzbait may serve you better. These baits can be fished through the pockets. You can also hop and skip them over matted vegetation. If the vegetation is super-heavy and thick, you'll be restricted to tossing a frog or a rat.

Oddly enough, many anglers believe that without dense vegetation, topwater baits aren't effective. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, topwater can be highly effective in reservoirs during the mornings and afternoons, in addition to evenings.


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