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Topwater Fishing for Bass

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Topwater Fishing for Bass
Photo by Brian Milne
Tournament bass fishermen often refer to topwater baits as the “10-percent solution,” meaning surface baits can be useless 90 percent of the time.

But during the warmer months, when the days are longer and there’s more surface activity on the surface, the tables turn.

As the weather warms, fishermen stay on the lake until dusk, when the topwater bite is just starting to pick up. That’s when topwater becomes the “90-percent solution.”

“It seems like there’s always guys hauling back at closing time this time of year,” said Adam Casey, assistant manager of the Lake Casitas marina near Santa Barbara, Calif.

“That’s when the fishing is at its best. The lake usually stays open a half-hour after the sun goes down and the fishing is best right around then. It gets to a point where you want to keep fishing because the topwater bite is so good, but its so dark you can’t stay on the lake any more.”

Fly fishermen can take advantage of this time of year because a majority of flies are made to be fished at the surface or just below the surface film.

So while tournament bass masters are throwing topwater baits and shallow-running lures this time of year, fly anglers can have a field day on warmwater lakes by throwing surface plugs, dries and even shallow-running streamers once the sun ducks over the mountains.

The key for all of the above flies is to draw the attention of the bass. Dark colors, like browns, purples or black streamers, are great attention-getters and help baits stand out against the dimming horizon. Even a Muddler Minnow on a floating line can be a good option.

Bigger can also mean bigger fish, although don’t be surprised if you pull up an occasional juvenile at the end of the day. “You’ll catch all kinds of sizes with big baits,” Casey said, “even the smaller, dumber fish because they don’t know any better.”

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