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Bass on Top? Go Lipless

By Russ Bassdozer

Bass fishing is incredibly simple to talk about, but it's so hard to put into practice, isn't it?

For example, it's easy to theorize that bass can only be found feeding in one of three places:

  1. on the top,

  2. on the bottom,

  3. or suspended in the water column somewhere in between.

Now the suspended in between bass usually don't exist in shallows less than six feet deep where the majority of bass fishing is done. In deeper water where bass do suspend in between the top and bottom, they can be hard to locate and even harder to entice them to open their mouths to take a bite. In deeper water, most of us fish the bottom or the top because that's where bass bite best, and that's where we feel most comfortable catching them.

So, in theory again, we fish the shorelines, or the bottom or the top in deeper water. Why? Because all three of these locations have a finite edge - the bank, the bottom, or the surface - towards which all life gravitates, including prey, predators and anglers. Prey species like these edges for the protection it affords them. Predators like these edges because they can trap prey against them. We like these edges, because it gives us something solid to target. We have and will talk about fishing the shore and the bottom in other articles at Let's talk about fishing the final edge - the top - in this one.

I fancy the top to be like a looking glass. We can see in, they can see out, but neither one of us ever crosses it. It's also a mirror. Sometimes a calm, flat reflective mirror that reflects back what's underneath it to a fish. Usually, a choppy, broken, refractive mirror that scatters shards of light rays into the water. In either case, calm or choppy, the reflective and refractive qualities of the surface offer concealment to prey, and confusion to predators who can't be too sure whether what they are seeing is life or memorex.

Enter the angler and his arsenal of decoys!

  1. First, there's the diminutive popper that slashes and spits, concealing itself in its own disturbance. Often best for calm conditions.

  2. Second, there's the fat stogie-sized walking bait for a moderate chop. Spooks, Sammys and other sassy side-shifters that never stay still. Walking baits conceal themselves in their own little struggles. Bass may hardly know what's happening or what they are. They have to belt them to find out.

  3. Third, there's the buzzbait that plows a trackable wake and churns a little frenzy even in rough chop. On a bouncy, wind-smurred surface, try black.

  4. Fourth, have a spinning rod ready to drop a soft bait into the swirl of a close swipe on a popper, walking bait or buzzbait. Simply use an old-fashioned straight shank worm hook. Thread a castable unweighted soft plastic like a Senko or Fat Boy onto it, and leave the hook bend and point totally exposed. You may want to pull the eye of the hook back into the plastic, and lock it on with the tip of a toothpick broken off though the eye

  5. Fifth, in heavy wind-swept waters, try hustling a big double-bladed spinnerbait from a few inches to a few feet just under the surface. Use willows for maximum reflection, and try a fire tiger skirt for obvious visibility

  6. Sixth, go lipless in any and all topwater scenarios. You usually can't go wrong with the chrome-sided models which are mini-mirrors in their own right, reflecting back the sunlight and the water color around them. As it's the fall season now, don't be shy to throw big 3/4 and 1 oz. lipless baits. Most natural baits are of similar sizes. They cast like bottle rockets launched at breaking fish, and cover water faster than all of the above-mentioned lures. Just keep your arm in its socket.

In most topside scenarios, especially in the fall, all the above baits can be worked faster than at other times or under other conditions. Now, faster doesn't mean splashier or crazier. It just means faster, which can often trigger bass prowling the edge - on top. Try it. Your edgy topwater bass might like it!

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