While driving into town this morning I grabbed my water bottle off the seat of the truck and attempted to take a swig. I was caught off guard when nothing came out and it took several seconds for reality to sink in. Something about that solid block of ice staring back at me from inside the bottle got me thinking about how much I missed the warmer weather. It bothered me so much that I soon found myself flipping through old footage of flip flops, shorts, and topwaters.
I know that many of you are in the same situation. For some of you it was cold when you launched the boat last weekend, for others you wish you knew exactly where your boat is under all that snow. Either way, we’re a long way from topwater season.
Instead of tearing up and thinking about how far away the topwater bite is I suggest you get proactive and start preparing your tackle for the coming year. I’ve talked about frogs, spooks, and wakebaits in the past but I’ve never really touched on poppers. I absolutely LOVE fishing a popper on a spinning rod on a quiet morning. Year in and year out the popper comes to my rescue when the topwater bite seems to be falling apart on a tournament day.
My favorite aspect of the popper is its versatility. When the fish are aggressive you can work the bait fast and in the case of the River2Sea Bubble Walkercan even get it to walk-the-dog much the same as a spook. When the fish are moving slow you can turn to a Yellow Magic or a Rico (I’d suggest the “20th Anniversary Absolute” color) and get those critical bites during off peak times. The key to the Rico on a cold morning is to work the bait so softly that it splashes without making the “bloop bloop” sound that poppers are known for. That subtle approach consistantly gets bigger bites for me than the more aggressive retrieves.
Another great aspect of popper fishing is that unlike most other baits, the higher-end poppers come equipped with great components and are ready to fish out of the package.
The only modification I make at all is to change the front hook out for a red one when the fish aren’t fully committing to the bait. I know it sounds silly to a lot of anglers but that really can help your hook up ratio on a slow day.
I know we’re a long ways away from a wide-open topwater bite but I thought it would be nice to take a break from all this cold weather and focus on something a little less draining. I hope your dreams of big bass, small topwaters, and explosive strikes keep you company until warmer weather arrives for good.