© St. Petersburg Times, published July 6, 2002
It's hard to beat the excitement of watching a bass explode on a top-water bait. Fishing topwaters is best early in the morning and late in the evening when bass often chase schools of bait in shallow water.
The lures I find most effective this time of year are prop baits and poppers in shad patterns. Work the baits with short jerks of the rod tip while taking up line with the reel. The bait will spit water as it moves.
How active the bass are will determine which retrieve works best. Begin with a steady retrieve, and if that doesn't draw attention move the bait a few feet and let it sit. The splashing draws attention, and inactive fish often will hit a bait as it sits in the strike zone. One important tip: When a bass explodes on the bait, don't set the hook. Wait until you feel the weight of the fish, and set the hook by sweeping the rod. Be sure to maintain a tight line when fighting the fish, but keep the drag light so you don't pull the hooks out of the fish. A bass hitting a bait on top is with no doubt the most exciting type of strike, and you naturally will respond to the explosion by setting the hook, and you will miss fish until you learn to wait.
-- Lenny Crispino guides on Lake Tarpon. Call (727) 938-2379.