Over the past few weeks I have turned a curiosity of top water fishing for bass into a full blown addiction. I knew that catching bass of the surface is nothing new, but I wanted to see what I could learn through my own experiences what bass fishing in particular top water fishing was all about. So I thought I’d do a bit of a report on my recent top water bass sessions and what I have learned along the way. Hopefully this helps some guys who are looking to get into it or who have done it before.
session 1: 23rd February 19:30 start
Rocked up to my spot while there was some sunlight available so I could walk around and see some locations that would be fishable, due to trees lining the banks and weed patches I was going to be limited to a handful of spots. I found my first location, it had large weed patches on both sides which sort of made a semicircle arch around in front of me. I though to myself, if I was a bass this is where I’d probably be.
Being new to the top water bass game my lure selection was very slim. I had a Tiemco soft shell cicada and a Taylormade mini surface breaker. I chose to tie on the Mini surface breaker first. This lure puts out a really nice wake that I quickly found out bass could not resist. I tried a few different retrieve techniques from a slow to medium constant wind to a slow retrieve with pauses. What I found worked best with this lure was to cast it out and when it landed flip my bail arm over immediately and wind up the slack but not retrieve the lure. Let it sit there til the rings disappeared and then 3-4 slow winds to get the lure into action. Then another pause to let any curious bass come and investigate. This was repeated all the way back to my feet. Now I can not stress enough keep the retrieve going all the way back to your feet. I learned this throughout the week as I had a few strikes and hook ups from less than a foot from the bank. Over about an hours session I landed 5 bass with the biggest going 35cm and I had myself a new pb. It wasn’t a record breaker but I was just happy to see some quality come out of this location. The hit from the bigger bass off the top got my heart pumping straight away. I learned just quickly how super aggressive these fish are and he just exploded on my lure. Another thing I learned during this first session was that bass on the surface is going to take some patience and persistence as I had another 8 missed strikes/hits.
session 2: 7th March 19:30 start
This session was a tough one for me, as there was periods of rain throughout the late arvo and into the night so the time I got to throw lures wasn’t ver long. Due to this I stuck to the spot I found in my first session. With the mini surface breaker tied on again and with the same retrieve techniques. I managed to pull a new pb of 37cm.
session 3: 9th March 19:30 start
With the rain and wind about over the past few days I was keen to see how much it had affected the water level and the weed patches throughout the area. What I found was that it had pushed weed into the area I was fishing the previous 2 sessions which forced me to move around about another 50m or so to a spot which I could get a semi decent cast away and wasn’t going to get snagged up on some weed. Well wasn’t I in for a surprise! Ended up with 5 fish, the 2 biggest going 34cm and 36cm (so close to another pb upgrade). This night I made a rookie error one which I should know as I’ve been fishing long enough. But we learn from our mistakes. I dropped what would have been an easy 40cm fish at the bank 😢 I had the leader in my hand and as I attempted to lift/slide the fish on to the bank, it kicked and straightened out a stock treble and off he swam! Anyone who has lost a fish due to this will know my pain! This error was caused by me being lazy and not replacing the stock hooks! I figured oh I’m just going bass fishing, I won’t need to upgrade my hooks! Well wasn’t I wrong haha
Session 4: 10th March 19:30 start
During my lunch break I was able to duck over and pick up some new hooks to replace on my lures. I went with the owner ST-36BC. These hooks are deadly sharp. I just had to look at one and it was nearly barb deep in me! With all stock hooks gone and the bent one kept as a friendly reminder I was back at my local. This time I tried a different spot, due to a parrot with a remote control boat zipping around near my other spot and as we had recently received some rain I thought I would try a little bay where there is a creek feeding into it, and also as I moved around to the other side I found out a storm water drain also fed into this area. It ended up being a relatively quiet night, landed 4 fish with the biggest going 35cm.
session 5: 15th March 19:30 start
Now that I had caught my fair share on the Taylormade mini surface breaker I thought that I would give another of the Taylormade lures a crack. I picked up a jimmy lizard (from my local tackle store) which is a 4 segment wakebait style lure. I tried a few different retrieve techniques with this but I found the same retrieve with the mini surface breaker to be the most successful. I had to work a bit harder this night and move around to few different spots to find them but I managed 4 fish, going 22, 28, 36 and 37.
session 6: 16th March 19:30 start
Once again I tried out a new lure haha This time I bought 2 chasebait frilkseekers. These are 4 segment wakebait style lure with a soft plastic tail. One ended up without it hooks and my daughter now uses it as a bath toy haha not the first lure she’s had in there! This lure is an interesting one. I wasn’t so sure just how successful it was going to be. Being 17.5cm long I was hessitant to tie it on and throw it. But I gave it a crack, I found the best retrieve with this to be just a slow constant wind with a few 1-2 second pauses thrown in. Any faster than a slow retrieve and it would dive sub surface, I didn’t want this to happen as it was the surprise of surface crunch I wanted. I managed to land 2 fish which had eyes way too big for their stomachs and weren’t much bigger than the lure haha this made me realise that lure size doesn’t really matter to these fish. They will hit things just as big as they are. I swapped back to the Taylormade jimmy lizard and a first cast special with a 36cm hitting the bank.
session 7: 18th March 19:30 start
After watching a few videos of a lure fisherman (John Costello) that I admire not only for his skill but his persistence I bought a few packs of the zman finesse frogs. If you haven’t heard of John, I strongly recommend looking up his channel on YT.
With all the extra weed around over the past few sessions I rigged these on a 1/0 gamakatsu worm hook. The spot I had in mind to try these out had a small bare section about 1.5-2m in front of me then bout 2m of weed bed the all clear water out from there. I cast as far beyond the seedbed as I could and 5 casts in I found out that these were going to be my new favourite lure! I managed to pull a 39cm specimen through some hairy weed and into my net. The retrieve I found that worked the best for me was I would cast it out, and this lure being a light soft plastic lands a hell of a lot softer than the hard body lures I was previously throwing. With this the surface ripples were a lot less. So I would immediately flip my bail arm over, reel in the slack line and give my rod butt a few taps to send a sort of shock wave through my rod and down my line to the lure. This caused the lure to pulse on the water which puts out good surface ripples. I would wait til they disappeared then I would start reeling at a medium speed to get the lure on it plane so to speak and then slow it down for about 0.5-1m then pause.
session 8: 19th March 19:30 start
With the zman finesse frog tied on I rocked up to what is now my usual spot. I had high hopes of what was ahead of me. First 5 casts for 5 missed strikes. My confidence went out the window haha but on the 6th cast I pulled a mid 20s out and I was on the board. With this weedless finesse frog I wanted to try a few spots around that I was previously unable to fish due to the weed and using treble hooks. Well it didn’t quiet go to plan. I had easily over 20 missed strikes/hits. Due to using a weedless hook I figured the hook up rate was going to be low but 1 in 20 was something I didn’t expect. On my way back to the car I tried one last spot. I put a cast in to the edge of a weed bed, a silly me goes to check the time on my phone and get a missed hit, so I slowly start retrieving the lure, another missed hit. Cast back into the same spot, as soon as it hits the water another hit but the hook doesn’t stick! I’m thinking wow tonight is just not my night. I put in one more cast just 1m to right a little bit wider of the weed bed and it gets hammered by a 36cm model which gave me some stick, I managed to steer him out of his weedbed and into the net.
A few things I have learned over the past few weeks, persistence is key. I guess it’s key to any kind of fishing but fishing the surface at night it was going to be especially important. Bass have big eyes and are excellent night time stalkers but are prone to missing the hooks most of the time. I had tried using assist hooks to no advantage, I still had missed strikes and I found that using such small light lures, they deaden the action. Always, always, always replace stock hooks! No matter the species you are targeting.
I found that overcast conditions were best, with the lure contrast against the grey clouds instead of the dark clear sky. I had a lot more action on overcast nights compared to clear nights. No lure is too big for these fish. Well to a certain degree, but they will hit lures just as big as they are. They will hit a vast array of lures as well. I found that lure colour had some impact to my success. The mini surface breakers I fished had dark bodies and the finesse frog I used was a chartreuse colour. I think the thing that has the biggest affect is presence and contrast. The easiest way I found the find out which lure has the best contrast is to hold it up to the sky and try to see from a fishes perspective. I fished a darker lure on the overcast conditions as I found the dark body contrasted better against the grey sky. Presence I found is key especially at night time, when a fish can’t see as good as during daylight they will utilise their other senses and will pick up the vibrations of a lure much better. Also when you’re out and about your local spots, look and listen to what is going on around you. Listen to the insects and other animals that are around, they will be clues as to likely food sources for the fish in the area. There are a lot of frogs around this spot I was fishing and that’s why I decided to give the finesse frog a go.
anyways, I hope you get something out of my report. Hit me up with some feedback, I’d be keen to know what you think and learn from your experiences.
I’ll try put some pics up soon.