Anglers have been known to catch topwater fish in all water temperature ranges. Ask Danny Morehead about catching buzzbait fish in the snow. Talk to Dean Rojas about frog fishing with water in the 50s. Ask Dave Wolak about waking a spinnerbait just below the surface with water in the low 50s in New York. No question, the right cast at the right time with the right bait and an aggressive bass will hit a topwater.
Depending on who you speak to, there is, however, an optimum temperature when a chance is replaced with good odds. To us that magic temp is 62 degrees. Bass will aggressively strike topwaters once the water temps reach that magic number. They will bite more readily on a down tick then too.
“I have seen it over and over where bass will agressively bite a topwater at 62 degrees,” said Elite Series pro Dave Wolak. “Grass starts to get a strong hold at that temp, and a frog and topwater really begin to shine. Buzzing a buzzbait, waking a spinnerbait, prop baits, spooks, and poppers are all great this time of year.”
Sixty-two degrees is a magic temp here in Central Illinois for topwaters. Even if it cools a bit, it doesn’t seem to matter much. Bass will bite equally well if the water temps drop a few degrees. Once the surface temperatures reach 62 degrees, it’s time to pull out the topwater arsenal. I like to make contact with the cover this time of year to trigger bass.
If you are throwing a buzzbait, crash it in to dock posts and trees on the retrieve. Frog fishing starts to heat up now as well. Zoom Horny Toads are great baits early, and a fast retrieve seems to work best. Fish the frog in heavy cover and under trees that hang over the water. Walking the Spro Bronzeye or the Bronzeye Popping Frog is a great technique this time of year. Long pauses seem to get bass to aggressively attack the bait early.
Knowing when to throw what is the key. Experience, vegetation, water temps and water color are part of the puzzle, but watching the environment and what the baitfish are doing is also key.
It’s much more than looking at the cover. Some of my best topwater days occurred when I started out flipping or casting a crankbait. A subtle flash or blow-up might alert you to the topwater bite. Birds circling or using the bank as a vantage point may be another clue, but the area around where you are fishing can be equally important. It’s also helpful to note the size of the baitfish, shad or bluegill, where they are positioned and are they near the surface.
One of my best topwater tournaments happened in mid-July with water temps exceeding 88 degrees. Baitfish were positioned on the outside posts of docks high in the water column. Fishing a buzzbait around those dock posts produced a fast limit and one that ultimately won the event. It was all about observation.
Another great bait this time of year is the Rapala 11S or 11G. This subtle bait can be fished over beds but is equally effective on steep banks. It can be twitched or fished as a topwater equally well and its size, 4 inches, makes it look like a easy meal. Dead sticking it over a bed can be a battle of wits between the fish and the angler, but the bites can be ferocious.
We contended that 62 degrees is the magic temperature, and for me, there is no better bite than a topwater one.