to any devoted bass angler and you will probably find that one
of their favourite forms of fishing is topwater action.
Nights spent on silent streams with only the sounds of your own
movements, combined with any local wildlife is great in itself,
but when the sound gets shattered by a boofing bass it can turn
even the most skeptical angler into an addict.
about any riverine water that holds bass is a potential
hotspot yet very few lakes have a reputation for being surface
producers. Lets look at why
we go back to the essence of why fish will take lures, flies,
plastics etc we are usually achieving one of two things.
Firstly we may be imitating a fish, insect, lizard, crayfish,
shrimp or even a bird that is part of the food chain in
that particular piece of water. Some anglers refer to this
as a feeding bite.
we may be tapping into the fishes instinct and / or aggression,
AKA a "reaction strike".
A reaction strike can be triggered by annoying a fish enough
for it to strike a lure via repeated casts at the same location.
Alternatively a fish may also "react" for territorial
reasons; species like Murray Cod and Saratoga have reputations
for being highly territorial, bass however are usually a
more social species. Reaction strikes are usually violent
affairs with the fish running on all cylinders.
get the best from surface fishing for bass, thinking anglers
try to use a combined approach to getting a fish to take
a lure from the surface. Here's a great way to approach
Gilbert caught this solid Bass under the tree he is resting
to know the water you plan to fish.
Become intimate with your stretch of river, creek or lake.
Get to know where all of the fallen trees, weed-beds, rock bars
and overhanging trees are so that you can easily recognize them
in low light conditions.
the food web
Find out what baitfish are present in the water you plan to fish.
Look for gudgeons, rainbowfish, shrimps, crays etc.
Using a bait trap is a great way to learn more about the food
web in any water. (Check with State Authorities about the legalities
Are there larger bait species that bass may be feeding on? Eg
Spangled Perch, Bony Bream, Snub Nosed Gar, Carp etc
What is the insect population like? Listen carefully at night
or turn a lantern on, I'm sure you will get some ideas in short
you know the answers to the above questions, ask yourself a few
- What is the likely to be the main food source for the bass?
- If there are no large baitfish present, it is highly likely
that the only protein source will be from small baitfish or insects.
usually deeper lakes where there are bigger baitfish present
are not usually renown for being good surface luring locations.
are definitely a couple of the best producers of big bass
in Australia, yet trying to get a bass on a surface lure
is a very hard prospect.
The bass in these situations follow the main food source,
and when the main food source (in this case Bony Bream)
is normally found in 30 feet of water it is little wonder
they are a tough prospect on the top.
In almost every case, the bass will become active when their main
food source is active.
In deep lakes with Bony Bream the bass can feed most of the day
in their relative comfort zone with peak periods of activity scattered
about in what commonly seems quite random.
However in riverine locations and those lakes where the bass need
to hunt in the margins for smaller bait and insects, peak feeding
usually occurs in low light situations.
Three reasons behind this are:
1- Australian Bass do not like the sun. The higher the sun, the
deeper the bass.
2- Small Baitfish are attuned to staying well hidden from predators
during daylight hours & can be more active early morning &
3- Most insect activity is at night; and the bass know it!
putting all of this together should see us:
Picking the best locations for getting a bass on surface lures
Fishing where the best locations are within the target creek,
river or lake
Using lures that imitate local food sources
Fishing in the peak times of activity
With the exception of bass in tidal waters, I'm not convinced
either way that the moon plays a major role in bass feeding
Some folks swear by fishing the full moon. The advantage of
fishing at this time is the added light from the moon can
help us see where we are casting.
I much prefer the lower light of the new moon. It is more
difficult to see and therefore fish, however all too many
times I've seen a hot surface bite go quiet as soon as the
moon breaks the horizon at night.
There are a wide variety in the styles of lures on the market
that bass will take. Most fall into the following categories:
Poppers usually have a flat or slightly cupped face. Usually
used for a constant or faster retrieve across the water using
the rod to give added animation.
Bloopers have a deeper cup than poppers. When twitched will
commonly give a "bloop" sound. Best used in small
twitches with many pauses. Popular brands are Skitterpops,
Bubble Pop 45mm & 65mm, Pop Rs
Using a variety of propeller style attachments to the front,
rear or both ends of a lure that spin as the lure is retrieved.
Fizzers make a racket on the surface. Can be slowly retrieved
or used in short, sharp rips with pauses in between. Depending
upon the style of propeller blade used, some fizzers may need
a faster speed than other to get the blades spinning. Good
brands are: Tiny Torpedo, Teeny Torpedo, Bills
Most on the market have a large cup faced bib across the width
of the lure body extending out either side. When retrieved
at a suitable speed, they will, as their name suggests, paddle
or waddle from side to side across the water. Some paddlers
don't work at their best if twitched or jerked, however are
best suited to slower, more constant retrieves. Good brands
include Jitterbugs, Bills Bugs, Night Crawler, Ploppy, Gremilin
& Crazy Crawler.
/Pencils / Dogs (as in walking the dog)
Call them what you will, these are normally just a straight
piece of dowel or plastic with no bibs, blades etc to give
action. All off the action is given by the angler with the
rod and reel. Brands include Zara Spook, Zara Puppy, Sammy
65, Slash Walker.
It is well documented that bass like erratic retrieves. This cannot
be over emphasized.
A high majority of surface strikes can be on the splash down or
on the first movement after that, or soon after if the lure is
in the right place and isn't taken away immediately.
Cast your surface lure and let it sit until the rings around it
have dissipated. Then give it a single twitch no matter what your
lure type. If no action at this point then work the lure back.
with surface lures can be one of the most exciting ways of catching
bass. There's little to compare with the sound of a strike with
the feel of your line going tight a moment later. Its definitely
my favourite form of bass fishing.