If you’re like me, you love to topwater fish for bass in the late summer and early fall.
Bass are active during this period and on the hunt, and a topwater bait can be an entertaining and effective way to draw them out of their hiding spots.
The problem I run into with a lot of topwater baits, however, is that many are almost too large for the bass that you will typically catch in Kansas. The intimidating combination of size and sound as the bait splashes through the water can cause some bass to flee from the bait rather than drawing a strike. A smaller, more manageable topwater bait can be the perfect solution for this conundrum.
During a recent shopping trip at Academy Sports + Outdoors, I picked up a few new lures to try out. One of them was the Rebel Teeny Pop-R, a miniature version of their famous topwater poppers that I’ve fished with for several years.
While fishing in a heavily moss-covered spot one evening, I tied on the Teeny Pop-R and started casting near the edges of cover. The small lure still had enough weight behind it to make precise casts, and the buoyancy of the lure prevented it from being easily caught up in the submerged hydrilla that often snag swimbaits and jigs during this time of the year.
When topwater fishing, you want to vary your retrieve with a series of long and short jerks through the water, rather than a straight retrieve. Be sure to let it sit a few seconds after hitting the water and pause between longer jerks. You want to fish a pattern, almost like Morse code, to imitate the erratic nature of an injured baitfish. For example, do one long jerk, then pause, then two or three short ones, then pause again, then one short one, pause, and a long one. It’s often during these pauses that the fish will attack your lure.
When they do, it’ll often be a wild strike with a loud splash that will make you want to jerk the rod back to set the hook immediately. Don’t do that. Instead, wait two or three seconds before setting the hook. If you try to set the hook too soon, the lure will likely come flying out.
The smaller size of the Teeny Pop-R also helps improve your hook-up ratio, as the bass is able to get more of the lure in its mouth upon striking the lure. This means that a hook is more likely to find its way into the fish’s lip.
Bass are also more likely to hit a topwater popper multiple times, so if you don’t set the hook the first time, keep working the lure and you’ll likely get another bite.
You’ll also want to keep an eye on your lure as soon as it enters the water, as you’ll occasionally get a softer bite where the lure just seems to plop under the water rather than the typical explosion of water you may anticipate on a topwater popper.
Fishing with the Teeny Pop-R was a blast, except for the part where one of the bass flopped while I was trying to remove the hook and stuck me deep in the finger with the treble hook. I did a good bit of cussing and bleeding as my buddy, Brendan Handy, expertly removed the hook.
ONE LAST NOTE: As you may have heard on my Rouse Outdoors Facebook page, I recently had several fishing poles stolen out of the back of my pickup truck. Among these were several belonging to my girlfriend and her family, as well as several rods I’ve had for a while that had sentimental value but weren’t actually worth much. Some of the rods were busted, and most needed new line. To the person or people who stole the rods, I just ask that you put them to good use and go fishing often. Take a kid and let them try. It’s frustrating that you chose to stole something that gives me so much joy, but if you help others gain an appreciation for the sport, then to me it is worth it. Also, I would’ve gladly let you borrow them if you had asked.
If you stole them to pawn them off, good luck. Most of the pawn shops have quit taking fishing poles as the season is winding down, and you aren’t likely to get much money from them. You would have been smarter taking my tackle box, which was also in the bed of the truck. If you can’t sell them, I hope you’ll at least return them to my truck and won’t just leave them in a ditch somewhere.