Getting Big Bass on Topwater – Bass Fishing Article by Durban based fishing charter and guide on how to target big bass using topwater methods, the articles covers, lures, methods and techniques used to catch big bass on the surface

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Getting Big Bass on Topwater

 

Article by Mike Laubscher of  Blue Water Charters | Durban

Bass are greedy predators that like to sit in ambush and wait for their prey. A greedy hungry Bass will eat just about anything and will swallow prey up to ¾ of his own size without any regrets.

Getting Big Bass on Topwater – The Author with 3.5Kg Big Mouth Bass caught on a Cultiva Tango Dancer
Bass Fishing Inanda Dam South Africa

Blue Water Charters - Durban
Marlin and Big Game Sport Fishing

Fishing top water for Bass is the most exhilarating way to get a take, to see the aggressiveness, the power, the speed and then have your line go tight as a big Bass devours your lure, realises he has been hooked and then gives your rod a serious bend as he tries to get away, your reel is screaming and you line running and then he makes a magnificent leap out of the water in an attempt to throw your hook, it’s awesome and I love it.

The Author with 3.5Kg Big Mouth Bass caught on a Cultiva Tango Dancer

Bass Fishing Inanda Dam South Africa

I have found that the best times for getting big Bass on top water are usually early morning from before the sun rises and late afternoon even after the sun has set. In first light and last light I like to throw my lure into the open deeper water and then bring it back towards the shallows. Once the sun is up I prefer to throw my lure towards structure in the shallower water and then bring it into the deeper water.

In first light and last light conditions, big lures equal big Bass, the bigger the lure, the bigger the Bass. My favourite lure in these conditions is the large Cultiva Tango Dancer, all the colours work but my favourite is the blue one, other big lures like Zara Spooks will also deliver the goods. I even once cast out a huge plug that I use for King Fish and a decent size Bass has taken it, and have had similar success with other open faced poppers, and so I think it is more about how your move the lure than the lure itself that makes the real difference.

Getting Big Bass on Topwater – The Author with a 4.5Kg Big Mouth Bass caught on a Cultiva Tango Dancer in the Dark
Bass Fishing Inanda Dam South Africa

Blue Water Charters - Durban
Marlin and Big Game Sport Fishing

The Author with a 4.5Kg Big Mouth Bass caught on a Cultiva Tango Dancer in the Dark

Bass Fishing Inanda Dam South Africa

Fishing the lure is not as simple as casting it out and then retrieving it, you need to play around with your lure and see how it works, how it lands when you cast, how far it goes when you cast, how it moves with the different ways you move your rod, how fast or slow you can retrieve it. Once you know your lure and how it works, only then are you ready to start fishing it in these low light conditions, because in many cases you cannot see you lure properly, and so you need to know where it is and what it is doing.

Lures like the Cultiva Tango Dancer and the Heddon Zara Spook are large stick baits, and they are best fished in the “walk the dog” style. Each lure has its own characteristics the Tango Dancer like to be fished fast, whilst the Zara Spook prefers to be fished slower. Fish fast or slow? I think that each method has its own merits and certainly both will catch good fish. In the low light conditions I like to fish faster and make as much noise on the water as possible, which is the reason I like fishing the Tango Dancer, I also think that the influence of my saltwater fishing comes through and has influenced the speed in which I fish. I like to burn it, and this has delivered me good results.

There is a few tricks to fishing these lures in low light conditions and in my opinion are the most important, rather than speed, colour or the lure it’s self. This is gold. When you cast out these large lures into open water or towards structure, take up the slack on your line and do not move the lure, hold it there suspended for around 10 seconds (This is where you get the chance of the first take), then give it one good tug (This is where you can get the second chance of a take) then hold it there for another 5 – 10 seconds and then start to retrieve them in the “walk the dog” fashion at an even pace (It’s as you start to retrieve, where you can get the third chance for a take). Then after you have retrieved the lure 3-5m you pause it again for 5 – 10 seconds and you continue doing this right up to the boat (It is usually on these pauses that you get the big one). Retrieve your lure right up to the boat, do not make the mistake of doing the retrieve halfway, the light conditions are low so his chances of spotting you are slim, and if you keep quiet you will get Big Bass take your lure right at the boat, and these are the best takes when the water explodes right in front of you and sometimes even gets you wet.

A well used Cultiva Tango Dancer in Blue

Which has taken many Big Bass

Bass Fishing South Africa

In the morning after the sun is up or in the afternoon before twilight, I also like to use the Tango Dancer, but I prefer to size down a little and my favourite lure at this time is the Heddon Zara Puppy or the smaller Cultiva Tango Dancer. The Zara Puppy is superb small stick bait, it casts far and accurate. My favourite colour here is the black back with silver belly, and with the smaller Tango Dancer the green or the blue, which both have silver bellies. I fish them in exactly the same way that I fish the larger lures, but here I throw them at the structure. Again you need to know how your lure works and need to practice as you need to get it to land right in front of the grass, bush, tree, rocks or whatever structure you are casting at, you cannot miss as you will either not be in the zone, or you will be caught up in the structure.

Getting right on the structure is important. Again you need to wait and do the pauses, as this is where you will get the takes, if you see a fish following, then pause and twitch every now and then, if he loses interest start retrieving again. If you start getting a lot of smaller bass in the area, you can be sure there is a big fish around and now you need to practice the big lure equals big fish rule and change your lure to the large Tango Dancer or Zara Spook. Once you have picked several of the small fish up it is time to get the big one, do not leave the area as he is there, usually a little further out. Cast out the big lure at the structure and then leave it there, then start retrieving and do not forget the pausing intervals. The big fish will usually follow your lure out and will take your lure as you start retrieving after a pause. This will usually happen about midway from where you cast to the boat.

3.5Kg Large Mouth Cock Bass caught on a

Strike King Z-Too fished weightless

Bass Fishing Inanda Dam South Africa

For fishing these stick baits, I like to use a medium action rod with a good back bone, with 8-10lb braid. The medium action rod allows the fish to suck in the lure, whilst the braid allows you a fast reaction when you strike to set the hook. The back bone is needed as the fish are usually large and the lighter braid allows you good casting distance. You can use a bait caster in most circumstances, but using a spinning rig will allow you to get into tight places.

My absolute favourite way to fish top water is to fish with a Strike King Z-Too lure weightless, this was a method introduced to me by a good friend and is possibly now the way I fish the most. I even use this method in saltwater estuaries for small game fish. It’s an easy way to fish as you never need to change your lure, it is very difficult to get it snagged and you can cast in into any structure and fish the same lure the whole day.

With this method I like to use a fast action medium to medium heavy 6ft – 7ft spinning rod, basically a good drop shot rod. The 7ft rod will allow you more distance, whilst the 6ft rod will allow you accuracy. I use a 6’8” medium extra fast action rod with a small 2000 size reel (smaller light reels are lighter and less stress on you arms and back, and this is an important factor when doing this all day as many of your casts are side casts) and 8-10lb braid. You need the lighter braid to get the distance and it allows better control on the lure and more accurate casting. I like to use 400-500mm of 12lb fluorocarbon as a leader so the knot never goes through the rod eyes. The braid and the fast action rod is important as the takes are explosive and quick and you need to react fast to set the hook.

Getting Big Bass on Topwater – Strike King Z-Too shown in Arkansas Shiner with the hook laid over to show how it is rigged weightless
Bass Fishing Inanda Dam South Africa Kwa Zulu Natal

Blue Water Charters - Durban
Marlin and Big Game Sport Fishing

When fishing the Strike King Z-Too for Bass, my favourite colours are the Arkansas Shiner, Pearl White Blue Glimmer, plain Pearl White, Smoke and Ice. I think the best is the Arkansas Shiner and my good friend will testify to that. When rigging up I like to use a 5/0 heavy gauge hook (for weight) and the hook must have an extra wide gape. This allows the lure to always swim upright.

I never ad split shot, but if there is a deep tree it can help.

Strike King Z-Too shown in Arkansas Shiner with the hook laid over to show how it is rigged weightless

Bass Fishing Inanda Dam South Africa Kwa Zulu Natal

Getting Big Bass on Topwater –3.2Kg Large Mouth Bass caught on a Strike King Z-Too fished weightless
Bass Fishing Inanda Dam South Africa

Blue Water Charters - Durban
Marlin and Big Game Sport Fishing

3.2Kg Large Mouth Bass caught on a Strike King Z-Too fished weightless

Bass Fishing Inanda Dam South Africa

The Strike King Z-Too is salt impregnated so it sinks slowly, and when you are casting at trees or rock you can just leave it there, I have caught many a decent fish whilst dead sticking these lures. Casting sideways you can skip the lure on the water and get it under branches and growth; or into holes in bull rushes and so on. Many times during the day, the big bass are deep inside or even behind the structure, and with this method you can get your lure right in there deep to where the fish is. Because the lure is weightless and the hook point buried your chances of getting snagged are slim and so you can really get in deep into the structure.

To retrieve this lure, I also like to pause it, especially when you throw right in front of the structure, and then you twitch it back at a slow or moderate speed again pausing every few meters. You will find that if you have rigged the soft plastic bait correctly on the hook it will come back in a “walk the dog” fashion, which is a movement that most Bass cannot resist, and as a result you will get explosive takes and many big Bass.

Getting Big Bass on Topwater –3.5Kg Large Mouth Cock Bass caught on a 
Strike King Z-Too fished weightless
Bass Fishing Inanda Dam South Africa

Blue Water Charters - Durban
Marlin and Big Game Sport Fishing
Getting Big Bass on Topwater –A well used Cultiva Tango Dancer in Blue
Which has taken many Big Bass
Bass Fishing South Africa

Blue Water Charters - Durban
Marlin and Big Game Sport Fishing