Surface lures the way to go when bass fishing

Saturday, April 29, 2017
Ken White displays another largemouth bass that fell for a Hula Popper lure.
Photo by Ken White/Special to the Daily Mail

This is the time bass fishermen wait patiently for bass to move into shallow water –– while actively feeding they are particularly vulnerable to fishing. Jack Melton, Springfield, is one of the many bass anglers who looks forward to late April and early May when bass fishing is good –– especially fishing with topwater lures.

Melton hits farm ponds using a topwater lure like the old Hula Popper and Jitterbug.

“These two topwater lures have produced some great action over the years for me,” said Melton. “There are lots of lures out there, but these two old-timers still produce as well as any of them. I got started using a Hula Popper back in the 50s after watching a friend land a seven-pound largemouth with one.

A nice-sized crappie caught by Jack Jeffries, Lamar, at Truman in less than a foot of water while fishing from the bank.
Photo by Ken White/Special to the Daily Mail

Melton continued: “I watched him work the popper slowly and, saw the water explode around the lure and finally land the big fish after it made several jumps, and nearly used the entire pond to try to shake the lure. After that show, I had to get a Hula Popper and, now I always have a couple in my tackle box ready to go.”

I remember when veteran angler Homer Circle advised me to be on the water at the crack of dawn because the two best payoff times of day are then, as well as the last hour before dark.

Usually the water is calm; smaller fish are moving about because they feel more secure in dimmer light. And the larger fish are on the prowl.

Start with a surface lure like the Hula Popper. Work it around shore cover like bushes, rocks, stumps, logs, undercut banks, lily pads, weeds, etc.

Move it slowly, very slowly. Tease it along near cover, then stop it about every yard and let the lure lie dead-still while you count to 10, ever-so slowly. Then, barely twitch it. Keep this maneuver going until the bass hits the lure. Set the hooks, then set them again for good measure. Now settle back and enjoy the battle, but keep that line taut.

You’ve got to find fish to catch them. This sounds oversimplified, I know. But, too many fishermen sit in one spot waiting for fish to feed instead of seeking them out. If you aren’t where the fish are you aren’t going to catch fish. Like a rabbit hunter keeps poking around until he finds bunnies, that’s the way you find fish.

Keep topwater lures of various colors in your tackle box. The lure color and pattern is probably more confusing than the lure type to most fishermen. A visit to any tackle shop will show you lures of every imaginable color and pattern.

The question most frequently asked is, what is the best color for bass? Research has shown that under laboratory conditions bass prefer red and they can distinguish it from most other colors.

There are two suggestions for using different colors, one: if one color does not produce fish, try another; and in clear water use bright colored lures, and in turbid water use darker colors.

Melton, a self-professed bass-aholic as well as a turkey hunter said, “During the spring turkey season I usually hunt for a couple hours in the morning and then head out for some bass fishing. So far this year, I passed up turkey hunting and concentrated on fishing.

I know the largemouth bass is truly one of our outstanding game-fish. They will challenge your finest ability and will do battle at every opportunity. Whether you rarely fish for bass or have desires to win a bass tournament, treat them with the respect that they have earned and deserve.

From now to December, I will be after largemouth bass. Now is my favorite time to tie on a topwater lure like the Hula Popper and Jitterbug for some great action.

In late April, spinner baits work well. The latest statewide fishing report shows that bass anglers are having success using spinner lures. Years ago the late Virgil Ward and I was bass fishing at Table Rock and catching both large and smallmouth bass by using twin-spinners. Virgil told me, “anytime you see a stick-up, cast near it and get ready to get a strike.”

It worked and we had our limit of bass soon after we left the Long Creek Dock.

The latest fishing report shows that crappie fishing is still going strong as the fish move close to the bank during the spawning run. Anglers on most of the big impoundments are finding crappie anywhere from four to one-feet deep.

Jack Jeffries, Lamar, caught his limit in less than an hour by using a small white jig about 10 inches below a bobber.

“I found a place on Truman where each year about this time I find the crappie moving in to spawn,” Jeffries said. “When you find them, it doesn’t take long to get your limit.”

From crappie to white and black bass, now is the time to get after them.

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