It seems like just a couple months ago I was freezing my butt off dragging tiny swimbaits across the bottom of a ditch ledge at the speed of a 3 toed sloth and dreaming about the early summer topwater bite. Well, here we are, it’s early summer and the stop, pop n drop pattern is in full swing.
Last year about this time we were in a great spybait pattern but all in all the topwater was lacking. This year the spybait pattern hasn’t really took off but the topwater pattern is on fire and the popper is really showing out. Yesterday was one of those days that I could get the fish to school at every stop with the popper. A lot of times it’s just the rhythm and deep sounding popping noises that really get these summer bass worked up and yesterday the wind was just about perfect to fish the popper with success. There were a few places that the popper created enough surface disruption in dead calm water to create a strike and as the morning progressed it just got better and better. That’s another thing about these summer bass on a blueback lake; they know that the bluebacks like to come close to the surface on sunny days and once the sun gets up the gauntlet begins between the predator and prey.
Here’s a YouTube video I made yesterday. These were some of the fish I caught on the popper yesterday. I’m using a St Croix 7’1” Bass X spinning rod with a Penn Fierce III loaded with 7lb flouro.
This week was a little different for me and for a few reasons. This time of year I would be doing a lot more spybait and drop shot but this week I wanted to see if I could get a 5+ pounder for a replica wall mount. I want to do it on the popper so that makes it a bit harder. I know there are bigger profile baits out there right now that I could use and more than likely get the job done rather quickly but I want to do it on something I created so that makes it a bit tougher. I’ve mainly been fishing the main lake because of the water clarity and the boat traffic in the creek but I also know my chances of a 5+ go way up out on the main lake right now. My strategy has been to fish the places I could throw the popper where there wasn’t too much wind. A light chop is perfect so I just looked for points and humps that either had no wind or just a little wind on them. When I start throwing the popper around a moderate to larger chop my hookup percentages go way down and it get’s much harder for the fish to pick up on it. This week I’ve had a pretty solid milk run and went up the west side of the main lake to past Vanns, hit the humps on the main lake and worked my way back down the east side of the main lake. I’m mainly fishing places to I have caught big fish in the past and my electronics doesn’t play a real large part of my fishing.
I’m kinda old school and I fish a lot by memory but I do use my electronics as a reference. Let’s face it, a lot of these bass are cruising around in wolf packs right now and just throwing a loud topwater bait near brush piles could induce some schooling action on your bait. I’m using my electronics as a reference to pinpoint the brush but I’m actually working my bait all around the brush and I only move in on the brush when I feel like the topwater chances are over and it’s time to pick up the drop shot. Since it’s getting hot out, this whole scenario of pulling up and fishing and area, plus drop shotting, may only last 10-15 minutes and then I’m moving on. A lot of times the bite heats up the best in the hottest part of the day and if you can stand the heat the rewards can be worth it. Running and gunning with plenty of cold water in the boat and body coverings are the norm from now till Sept.
I also have 2 different tactics I use for the topwater pattern; first is my “Bull in the China Closet” approach where I come into an area doing a lot of splashing and popping, creating as much disruption as possible. A lot of times this will trigger the fish to start feeding and if you watch some of my popper videos you’ll see that the popper actually triggers topwater schooling around the boat. That’s the bull in the china closet approach and it’s been working well lately. My other approach is my stealth approach which also works well. I use my little 4 inch walking bait for the stealth approach and it’s more about just creating a wake and letting the bass track the wake back to the source. Waking a bait is just about as effective as popping a bait right now but sometimes one approach may work better than the other so you just need to see what works. I know a lot of folks don’t have an Emerald Popper so a good replacement is the small chug bug. It is a great choice and you can generally get the same effect as the popper. To be honest, I’d probably be using the small chug bug a lot more if I wasn’t trying to get a magnum on the popper right now.
For me the spybait bite hasn’t really taken off and I’m pretty sure it’s because we don’t have a solid thermocline yet. The stratification process is still ongoing and there is still very good oxygen near the surface, hence good topwater. Once we have a more defined line at the top end of the thermocline at 20-25 feet the fish will be more inclined to feed deeper and that’s when the spybait will really take off. It’s just around the corner and I would definitely throw it every day I’m out right now under normal circumstances. I like the Duo Realis G-fix 80 in a few different patterns. You just have to play with the colors to see what works on any given day. Just remember to count it down and fish it slow and steady around brush and out on points.
Lastly is the drop shot. It’s starting to get heated up as these fish start to pile up around their summer homes. I’m seeing more and more fish in and around the brush out on the main lake and in the creek. Right now I’ve got Lanier Baits Blue Lily worm tied on and if I see fish underneath me, I’m dropping the blue lily right on their heads. More specifically, I’m easing my boat over the brush and dropping my bait right down into the middle of the brush and dead sticking the bait. Generally there will be a bigger fish deep in the brush so don’t be scared to drop right into the thick of it. That’s where the big girls hang out.
Here’s a few pictures from my week. I did catch a lot of smaller fish that didn’t make the highlights this week but out of the 3 morning I fished this week I probably caught 30-40 fish.