Skipping a plastic frog across the top of vegetation is an amazing experience. The lure innocently hops from place to place – just like a real frog.
Eyes could be watching the shadow created by plastic and steel every time the lure changes position. Then another hop and “POW,” the moss opens up quicker than human eyes can register.
Bass more than 5 pounds that slam into topwater commonly hit rubber frogs or mice while anglers watch their lure disappear in the midst of water and weeds exploding in every direction. Everything happens very quickly during a topwater strike. Largemouth bass bust a prey with unbelievable power and fury to kill and then devour their easy meal.
Bass generally slam the frog, but occasionally one will just kind of suck it in without the drama of a savage topwater strike. Either way, topwater frogs are great hot-weather lures to use until September brings cooler temperatures and more regular bass strikes.
Summer heat has taken over and most anglers topwater fish at night. But hollow frogs and mice are productive throughout the day, even when temperatures are approaching three digits. The key is where to look.
During hot weather bass love shade in slightly deeper water where more oxygen exists. Areas with lily pads, slop or other cover such as fallen trees and docks generally are covered with some kind of aquatic vegetation. Bass hide under this messy green stuff and wait for an easy meal to drop in.
Plastic hollow mice or frog lures are ideal for this situation. Lures like my favorites, the Moss Mouse or Lunker Frog, lie on top of vegetation and seldom picks up weeds like most lures. This is in part because the lure is lighter and the hooks are totally weedless. Several twitches of this “victim” create vicious strikes.
There are three primary ways to fish this type of lure. First by holding your rod tip in the hook set position and slowly turning your reel handle in short bursts with long pauses. Or by working your rod tip in a downward motion while slowly turning your reel handle while making sure to pause when close to cover or in open pockets.
I love the skip and pause tactic. Sometime watch a frog jump across the top of thick moss and you will exactly that, skip, pause, skip, pause. Be ready for a strike when you pause. Mice scamper across moss and occasionally stop to check their bearings. Fish cannot resist eating frogs or mice. The plastic legs retract during the stop and go technique.
When the sun is out and the sky is clear and you know the fish are holding to cover, let the frog or mouse pause a little longer next to cover. They have absolutely no chance of knowing the frog is an artificial lure and will absolutely smash it.
Anglers can play around with the cadence and speed based on how the fish are reacting. Aggressive bass allow you to speed up the retrieve and cover more water. Slow strikes mean slowing down to stay in the strike zone longer.
Cast past where you think bass will be holding. Let the hollow lure splash down causing surface disturbance, then start reeling with your rod tip down. The goal is to cover water looking for active fish.
Low light conditions like early in the morning or late evening are best. .
During overcast conditions fish will roam, finding actively feeding fish often requires covering water. The straight retrieve is great for covering water and locating active fish.
OTHER TOPWATER CHOICES: I love to twitch balsa minnows like the Rebel or Rapala during early morning or late evening in open water conditions during hot weather. I simply cast beyond stumps, docks or other cover and twitch it over these structures, pause, then twitch again. Bass occasionally come out of the water to hit these offerings.
At night I like to fish big black or dark brown Jitterbugs or Hula Poppers, especially around moss beds. Both are designed to imitate an injured frog. Zara Spooks are excellent around submerged trees or over brush in the “walking the dog” pattern that jerks the lure’s nose right and left in constant jerks, resembling an injured baitfish or snake. You can make plenty of noise for attention with all three offerings.
Bass love an easy meal. They would rather waste less energy on forage that does not move fast than a healthy species. Yes, they will take a healthy victim, but prefer convenience in a slowly moving meal. You can provide this by adding twitches and pauses.
This is an excellent time to catch big bass. Try topwater for some hot action during the hottest months. You will dream about those savage strikes and wake up ready to go!
– Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.