During the hot summer months, two things constantly remind Alton Jones to keep a topwater lure tied on and ready to fish. The first is that when he began fishing as a youngster more than 35 years ago, he started with a topwater lure, and the second is the 9 lb., 9-oz. bass the Yamaha pro caught at Lake Amistad.
“During June, July, and August, there is usually some place on every lake where you can catch bass on topwater lures early in the morning or late in the afternoon,” says Jones. “Water temperatures are warm so bass metabolism is high, which is why they’ll hit topwaters better this time of year than at any other time.
“They’re also big bass lures that can and do attract some huge fish. If I know bass are chasing large baitfish, I’ll certainly use a big topwater lure.”
The two primary types of topwater lures are “walking” baits like the famous Zara Spook,® and “popping” lures like the equally well-known Pop® R. Walking lures have a fluid, side-to-side motion that imitates a baitfish running from a bass, so they’re most effective with a steady retrieve. Conversely, popping lures create a sound more like bass eating a baitfish, so they’re usually more effective with a stop-and-go retrieve.
“You’ll usually find that bass want one type of topwater over the other,” notes Jones, winner of the 2008 Bassmaster® Classic. “Some days, bass want a lure worked very, very slowly, so that’s when I’ll throw a popper and pause each time I do pop it.
“A Spook,® on the other hand, has very little attraction when it’s sitting still in the water, so I’ll usually start with it, ‘walking’ it at different speeds just to see if I can draw a strike. If I get bass following the lure but not hitting it, then I’ll usually change to a popper.”
The Yamaha pro also notes that water and weather conditions can dictate his choice of topwater lures. The calmer the water, the more noticeable sound will be to a bass, so that’s when he’ll use a Spook® and really sashay it across the surface. In extremely clear water, he may draw bass up from as deep as 20 feet.
“You can fish poppers in shallow, slightly off-colored water, too,” continues Jones. “In those conditions, you want bass to have plenty of time to find the lure, so you fish it slower. Basically, you can fish topwaters around shallow visible cover like weed edges, rocky points, and even laydowns, so they’re pretty versatile lures.”
Interestingly, the Spooks® and poppers are the only lures Jones fishes with monofilament line, since it floats. Because fluorocarbon sinks, it can actually change a floating lure’s action. His rod choice is a 6’6” medium action model that permits long casts and also allows him to work the lures effectively.
“Everyone loves topwater lures because you can see bass strike,” concludes the Yamaha pro, “and I have to admit, that’s one of the reasons I love them, too, but they’re also easy to use. Honestly, I do have one tied on and ready to use every day I’m out on the water during the summer.”