It's already July, and I can hear the gurgle of a jitterbug as it churns toward the boat, gurgle, gurgle, gurgle...,KaPow! What a sound, what a feeling! It's like dangling a piece of raw meat over a caged pack of hungry wolves, you never know when their going to snatch it right out of your hand. Some of my fondest memories and most anxious moments fishing were spent bringing a jitterbug over a prime spot in anticipation of an bassin' explosion. Chugging, and churning, it's way through thick and thin only to be ambushed when you least expected it.
By Dennis Udlinek
Late summer in southwestern Idaho could mean some exciting action for the angler who isn't afraid to chance a little heart conditioning. I recently fished on C. J. Ben Ross Reservoir for some lunker largemouth. They seemed particularly fond of a small, well placed, frog patterned jitterbug, cast in close to the sunken trees, and wallowed shorelines. My favorite topwater is a 1/4 oz. white buzzbait that is almost irresistible when slowly churned past the willowy shadows. Sometimes largemouth are a little more excitable and want their bait zipping by, so it's often a good idea to experiment with various other top-water lures such as buzzbaits, or poppers and stickbaits. Besides using different retrieving methods, these other top water lures are effective in turning Mr. Largemouth's head, especially in early morning and late evening.
One other favorite of mine is a tiny torpedo, or similar topwater stickbait called a devils' horse. Both have propellers at each end. These water splashing, noise making, sometimes obnoxious lures, often bring strikes that better resemble a dive bomber attack than your usual sideswipe, and splash hit. I've actually had largemouth completely leave the water, before they hit the bait, diving down on top of the lure as if to kill it before they eat it! This just adds to the thrill, or agony, when you've discovered that you were left with your mouth hanging open in total surprise and something in the back of your head said, "set the hook dummy"... it was too late!
One thing to always keep in mind when you find yourself asleep at the switch, is to have another rod laying close by, with a small, light jig or worm tied on. This at least enables you to have a chance to follow up on a missed opportunity with an alternative tasty morsel. Often times the bass are still lurking nearby, wondering what happened to the easy pickings' that was just jerked out from above them. A well placed, slow sinking jig or worm will often regain at least some of your lost pride with a fish or two.
Had I realized the fish were short striking the lure I could have simply followed up with light jig and possibly caught something. It's experiences like these that make memories enough to last a lifetime. All through July and into August, "good times" can be had using topwater baits. The best times are; early mornings, and late evenings, overcast days, the usual deadly calm days and even with a slight breeze blowing. Just about any topwater bait will work for bass.
Not only is topwater bassin' for largemouth a winter's long dream, but smallmouth can fall victim to a well presented plug. Now and then, I've even been known to use a floating mouse or frog on a flyline for some challenging, heart pounding bassin' action. No matter what your preferences are; jitterbugs, buzzbaits, stickbaits, hula poppers, or a hair mouse, smallmouth or largemouth, there's no better way to begin or end a summer's day, than to have a bass be a part of your next "topwater tale"