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February 26, 2010

Six Topwater Secrets

Tailor your topwater tactics for tough fish.

With both two and three lures, this rig can be worked in a number of ways, ranging from twitching and pausing under a slow retrieve to a slightly quicker, more radical retrieve with aggressive side-to-side action. While the lead plugs might draw strikes some of the time, it is usually the last plug in line that catches fish.

5. Hit the Brakes
One of Dubiel's favorite tricks is to pause his topwater plug. There are occasions, especially during feeding blitzes, when fish refuse to strike a rapidly moving plug. Perhaps the fish become programmed to consume the injured ones that can't swim off? Fish that aren't especially aggressive sometimes want an easier target, like a severely injured bait that is barely kicking.

I watched Dubiel convert many a fish by occasionally pausing his lure for a few seconds before picking up the retrieve and pausing the lure again for a few more seconds. This tactic worked well when he pitched a lure right into the blitz, where you would think any quickly fleeing lure would draw strikes.   

6. Color Me Gone
As mentioned earlier, matching the hatch in terms of size and coloration is generally a smart move. Yet as much as I subscribe to this theory and stick to my guns, like I did in New Bern, North Carolina, sometimes it takes some experimentation to get the bites. I fished mainly a silver with black-back plug, to imitate finger mullet, and occasionally a menhaden-hued plug, since peanut bunker were also amassing. However, Dubiel selects colors that offer the most visibility in those tannin-stained waters. He favors chartreuse plugs or those with highlights of chartreuse - a color I've yet to see in any natural baitfish - which he claims permeates these waters farther than other colors and makes the plugs more visible to fish. I can't argue with him since he scores on them.

When the natural-hued plugs aren't cutting it, pick a radical color, such as pure white, chartreuse, orange or even black, and give it a try. Perhaps you'll find one that is indeed more visible to fish. It might not appear natural colorwise, but the silhouette it presents might just be strong enough to stand out to a fish. Add in a little action, and the rest, as they say, might be history - for the fish, that is!

Fishing topwater plugs is an art. Sometimes the bite is on, and all that's necessary is to pitch out the lure. Yet tough times dictate some thinking, and that's when a lot of anglers give up on topwaters. For me, watching a fish explode on a topwater plug is one of the neatest sights in fishing, and I'm sure somewhere down deep in my psyche that's the reason I'm usually the last to retire the lure.