Hollow-body frogs, soft-plastic frogs, spooks, jitterbugs, torpedoes, buzzbaits, poppers; these are a few lures that brings in the thrill and exhilaration of topwater fishing. Many are oblivious to this fishing technique and question its legitimacy. From my many years of ongoing addiction to topwater fishing, it has definitely become a pattern of interest. Once the water temperature hits 60 degrees, the swimbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, and crankbaits are stored indefinitely and out emerges the topwater lures. Traditional fishing underwater does not beat witnessing the smack down a bass (or pike) unleashes onto the lure, and actually seeing the action! Of course, I love catching fish, but I also love the adrenaline of a topwater hit.
Where should I cast a topwater lure?
I mainly cast a topwater lure near shorelines, where water depth is below 5′ to ensure the fish will see the lure, hear the noise, and/or feel the vibration (although I have uncommonly caught suspending bass and pikes in 10+ feet of water). Great areas to use topwater lures include grass mats, lilypads, under trees, above shallow rocks, and alongside docks. Of course, different habitat will require different types of topwater lures; for example, I use frogs, or weedless topwater lures, on grass mats and lilypads, while I use wakebaits or treble-hooked topwater lures in shallow, open water, such as rivers or rocky shorelines. What I usually do is cast as close to the shoreline as possible; since frogs are weedless, I’d toss them right onto dry land and drag them into the water, acting as a real frog. Casting as close to the shoreline as possible and reeling it towards you mimics the realism of a prey falling from a nearby tree into the water, or an injured prey panicking for survival. Bass (as well as pikes) are opportunist predators and will munch on anything that moves and fits in their mouth. If, by chance, your lure gets hung up by a tree while casting at the shoreline, then you could jig the topwater lure slightly, surfacing the water regularly to create a wake, which will interest the predatory fish and increase its curiosity. Topwater lure allows you to reach into tight spaces that a suspending lure would not be able to do as it would get stuck on rocks or logs. It is suitable in almost all waterways: lakes, rivers, ponds, sloughs, and creaks.
What about rods? Reels? Lines?
When it comes to the rod, I’m pretty flexible with my options. All my rods are 7′ and are usually medium fast, which can feel about anything the lure touches and retracts to the pole. When it comes to the reel’s gear ratio, I usually go with a 6:1 or 7:1 retrieval speed to really eliminate the slack on a lure. When topwater fishing, I’m always engaged with the reel, either twitching, slowly retrieving, or walking the lure. The high gear ratio ensures that, when I set the hook, I’m actually hooking the fish and not setting the hook on the slack. My lines are usually about 40+ lb braid. Braid line floats and topwater lures float, which makes sense as one compliments the other. Also, with braided lines, it does not stretch, so pulling a fish from grass mats or lilypads is simpler and does not allow the fish to tangle itself and escape. The type of brand purchased for braid varies from angler to angler, all costing relatively the same (for the quality brands).
Perceptibly, these topwater techniques are from my experience when topwater kayak fishing and varies from one kayak angler to the next. I’ve been fortunate enough in the past few years to have met avid topwater anglers who’ve shared secrets with me and vice versa. Topwater fishing is literally all I do (unless I’m extremely desperate for a fish, then I’ll fish extremely slow with plastics in rare occasions). I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of topwater fishing; it’s a great way to produce video content and also satisfying when a topwater hit occurs.
Stay tuned for Topwater Kayak Fishing, Part II later this season! In the meantime, check out a few topwater footages here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzdaAcV103k.
Over the few years that I’ve lived here in Midwestern WI, I’ve had the opportunity to meet fellow kayakers, anglers, and kayak anglers. Someone whom I’ve met not long ago is a fellow kayak angler named Tyler Thiede. He and I have both shared fishing lures, techniques, and stories that have built our friendship. Starting off 2017, Tyler’s passion drove him to become licensed in kayak guiding service, who soon established Small Craft Outfitters with his wife, Stacy Thiede. I was fortunate enough to be joining him in kayaking and kayak fishing guide as the service rolls along. Specializing in Feelfree fishing and recreational kayaks, Tyler provides some of the most reliable kayak brand in the market along with other brands in the market of kayaking gear, fishing lure, rods and reels, and scent (see all the partnered products HERE). Experienced in recreational kayak and kayak fishing, Tyler offers some of the best kayaking and fishing tips for beginners and novice learners as well as introduction to relevant products. Do visit his site for more information if interested in booking a kayak fishing trip with him, or us. Safe fishing!
2016. My kayak and I moved into a small town, awaiting to explore what the many lakes and rivers will bring to us. I was new to Midwestern Wisconsin and was unfamiliar with the bodies of water in this area. However, I met many professional anglers that introduced me to many lakes and rivers as well as what techniques to use in different seasons. I became more aware of the bass fishing pattern from spawning season to feeding season, which made fishing for them easier as to use jigs, topwater, or chase-bait.
The start of the fishing season began early for me in in the beginning of March. Because bass season hasn’t opened yet and I was eager to fish, I headed to a local dam to see what was out there. Surprisingly, I caught a few brooke trout off a crank bait. A couple weeks after this and I started the kayak season with a great kayak angler, Tyler Thiede, as we went after crappies on a local lakes with other eager fishermen. As bass season approached, I began to plan out what I wanted to do for the rest of the season while I was in this small town; granted, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by multiple bodies of water in all directions of where I was living within a 30-min radius. My first official kayak trip was on a local river that extended to approximately 5 miles. We, Tyler, another fishing buddy, and I, didn’t have enough luck and I ended up losing a rod that I have just purchased a month ago. Although this was a rough start to the fishing season, I stayed optimistic and continued heading out every weekend as often as I could.
Although I was a full-time student and part-time employee finishing college, I did not stop nor hesitated to stop doing what I was most passionate about: kayak fishing. As I promised myself, I went out almost every weekend to enjoy the outdoor as well as catch some bass or pikes. Some of the main highlights that I found achieving was self-teaching myself to kayak fly fish for bluegills, bass, trout, and lake whitefish. Kayak fly fishing was difficult especially because I had a sit-in kayak, which made giving slack to the fly rod 2x harder. Furthermore, I started to become more connected with social media by starting this blog website as well as starting an Instagram and a Facebook page for cxfishing. As 2017 slowly approached, I hope to be more active on social media for my viewers as well as a side hobby to do on my free time.
Lastly, my 2016 kayak journey ends with a great thank you and acknowledgment to Tyler Thiede, a blogger and an amazing kayak angler whom I was fortunate to meet. Tyler introduced me to many lakes where I’ve had huge success at and offered me great fishing techniques to use when topwater is slow. Tyler has also introduced me to many great opportunities with the fishing community, such as kayak bass tournaments on Tourneyx.com, Ardent Reels (where I’ve been accepted to be a part of Team Ardent), and the Feelfree Lure fishing kayak. 2016 would have been a pretty lonely fishing season had Tyler not been around; his presence have made 2016 kayak fishing a huge success. As 2017 rolls along, I’ve got many plans that I hope to put into action, which involves new gear, more social media activity, and more fishing!
Don’t forget to follow me on my social media sites to continue staying active with all the fishing stories:
Over this weekend, I had the chance to demo one of the best fishing kayaks in the market: a FeelFree Lure 11.5′ kayak. As a sit-in kayak angler, this was a rather new transition from one kayak to another. Sadly, compared to the sit-in kayak that I own now, the FeelFree was heavier and slower. However, these problems didn’t bother me one bit because the FeelFree was way more stable, comfortable seat, customizable, more storage and room to move around (literally), and getting in and off. Overall, the FeelFree Lure was more reliable and safe. I took the kayak out onto the middle of Lake Wissota, in midwestern WI, and had no hesitation in flipping or falling over. I was even confident enough to stand and test the stability of the kayak above the hyperthermic water, which is probably one of the most significant feature I search for in a kayak. After enclosing myself in a sit-in and not being able to stand and fish for years, being able to do this on a FeelFree Lure made kayak fishing way more enjoyable. I do enjoy a sit-in when fishing, but there were many limitations that I found that were totally disregarded on a FeelFree Lure. It will be hard to get back into a sit-in kayak, but I think I’m convinced in getting a FeelFree Lure for next year. A great thank you to Tyler Thiede, a FeelFree Lure kayak angler and blogger @ www.smallcraftfisherman.com, for allowing me to demo one of the FeelFree Lure kayak.
Although the Summer season has come to a halt, the Fall season has been doing wonders for me. My fishing technique has changed from topwater to underwater, but that doesn’t stop the action from below the surface. I was introduced to spinnerbait by Tyler Thiede, a great fishing buddy of mine. (You can check out his awesome blog at www.smallcraftfisherman.com) I do not get the seem thrill and excitement as watching a bass/pike strike a lure above the water, but that does not compare to the size of the bass during this fall season. It is feeding time for these predatory bass and pikes and they will go crazy over a tasty lure. With about one and a half month left for bass season this year, I’ll definitely be targeting these fat bass and hopefully end the year with a new personal best. Good luck to the rest of you!
Every angler has their own preferred fishing technique that they use when fishing for bass, pikes, muskies, panfishes, and more. I have used multiple fishing method from jigging, worms, spinner, and crank, but my favorite technique thus far, as seen from my catches, is topwater fishing. Whether I’m using a frog, spook, wakebait, or buzzbait, the action above the water when the fish slams it is extremely breathtaking and stunning. Although I do get sore from the constant reeling and twitching of the rod, I can’t be complaining when the result of topwater is being able to see the bass or pike slam the lure. Throughout the years of using topwater, there are a couple rules that you should follow to fully understand the use of topwater:
Topwater fishing is a great obsession of mine that I’ve convinced myself to love and be passionate doing. As the season comes to a close with colder water and heavy rainfall, the start of next year will be a great opportunity to grow on the knowledge of topwater fishing.
On a new lake, it’s always a mystery to what you’ll be catching. Although you may be targeting bass, there may be occasions where a pike will covertly stalk your lure and pounce when you least expect it. Pikes share similar environment as bass, whether in rivers or lakes. They are more aggressive and more willing to strike on a lure more than once. As a pike victim myself, I’ve hooked enough of them to know whether I’ve hooked a bass or pike. As stated earlier, pikes are more aggressive and will pull drag, especially a decent sized pike. Although not as aggressive as musky, pikes do fight for a fairly long time and even flailing when you least expect them to. With their sharp, pointy, sandpaper teeth, it is highly recommended to have a gripper and pliers to extract the lure.
Pikes are great for a casual day fishing especially with topwater as the blowups are insane. During tournament day, they may be a bugger as they are capable to easily snap lines. Pikes are native to WI and I’ve learned to be cautious when fishing for them. They’re extremely competent and show no mercy against other predatory and prey fish.
Off a Persuader Three Blade Buzzbait, this approximately 20.5″ largemouth slams the lure with so much strength that, for a few seconds, my rod bent down, rocking my kayak back and forth. Feeling a burst of acceleration after seeing the monster surface and wrestle the water, I carefully fought the hog and slowly reeled it in. At first glance, I thought the bass was a carp due to its football-shaped body, but was soon shaken with excitement after seeing the whole image. A scale wasn’t present at the time, but this bass was eating well; its mouth could have literally fit my hand and everything about it was beautiful. After a quick photo, I released the hog back into the lake to fight another day. ‘Twas a great catch due to an incoming storm, causing me to retreat home. Was it worth the 30-minute drive to fish for 20 minutes? Definitely.
Smallmouth and largemouth bass are two species that don’t commonly share the same environment. In rivers, where the body of water is constantly moving into a larger body of water (such as a lake or river), it is typically inhabited with smallmouth, who adapts and endures the punishment of the river current and rapids. In lakes, where the body of water is relatively calm and doesn’t wake as much, it is typically inhabited with largemouths, who tends to use the tactic of ambush whilst hiding amongst plants such as lily pads or weeds. Any angler who has caught enough smallmouth and largemouth bass will know that smallmouths have the endurance of a cross-country runner while largemouths seem to tap out quicker and give up within a minute or two after being hooked. Although this is the case, largemouth bass has an impressive explosive strike that can be heard hundreds of feet away if the angler is using topwater.
Smallmouth and largemouth bass do share similar taste in lures, but using the right lure at the right time is important. Being a savvy topwater angler like I am, I have discovered different topwater lures that fits the environment of the bass. In rivers, I tend to use buzzbait and propbait more to wake the water as well as create an alarming sound to pull the curiosity of the bass out from underneath the structure. In lakes, I also use buzzbait as well as weedless lures, such as frogs. Frogs are great to use within the mats due to its weedless hooks as well as the relatively-close imitation of a frog. With buzzbait, I’m able to loudly glide the lure amongst the mat and create a disturbance to attract any bass that are hiding by the side of the mat waiting for a quick meal. River bass fishing and lake bass fishing are not limited to the lures that I’ve stated in this passage; there are many techniques that other anglers use, depending on their sole preference, which makes fishing extremely enjoyable to be able to see what other anglers are using as well as being able to use what you have.
Northern pikes are also inhabited in both rivers and lakes and tend to be one of the top freshwater predatory fish in WI due to its sharp rows of teeth which can feed on near anything below and above water. I do enjoy fishing for pikes because their size vary and it’s always a mystery if you’ll be catching a giant pike or not. As a rule of thumb, I always carry a set of plier as well as fish gripper to tackle these pikes when hooked.
Recently, where I live, I’ve been able to hit both rivers and lakes and enjoy the excitement of catching both smallmouth and largemouth bass, and occasionally, pikes. I’ve definitely become more familiar with bass fishing in rivers and lakes as well as what to expect in each habitat.
While floating down the Red Cedar River today in western WI, I noticed a bat tied up in some thick, fluorocarbon fishing line. As you may be aware of, fluorocarbon can really be a mess when tangled together (trust me, I’ve had a bird’s nest on a baitcast with fluoro, it’s a nightmare). This bat was in despair as it flaps above the water trying to escape. It’s about 6-7″, which was the perfect size for any big bass or pikes if these predator were around this commotion. Thankfully, the bat was rescued, dried, and released into the woods, but I was disappointed at the excessive amount of lines across the edges of the woods. Obviously, these lines were cut or snapped by some kayak anglers who didn’t bother to paddle to the tree and retrieve as much line as possible to eliminate any hazard like what the bat witnessed. I understand that if the lines were too high to reach and they intentionally snap the line; but, when the line is retrievable but ignored, that destroys the purpose of fishing and intentionally harming other creatures due to selfishness. The line was removed and stored for later disposal.