Don't Forget Topwater

Spawning bass look up as well as down.

Field & Stream Online Editors

The standard fishing method for spawning bass consists of working a soft-plastic tube, lizard, worm, or craw in a bed until the bass becomes irritated enough to engulf it or attempt to remove it. This approach works best in clear water where you can see beds and, ideally, the bass.

What many anglers have yet to learn is that spawning bass often respond well to topwater lures, too. The fact is, there are times when a featherweight 21/2- to 4-inch floating balsa minnow evokes strikes from bedding bass when soft-plastic baits fail to draw so much as a sniff.

A 51/2-foot spinning outfit spooled with clear 8-pound-test monofilament makes for precise close-quarters casting with floating minnows. After you've spotted a bedding bass, cast the floating minnow directly over or just beyond the nest. If the bass darts away, let the lure sit there for a minute. The bass will soon be back.

When the bass returns, hold the rod tip low and work the minnow with short snaps that move it ahead an inch or two at a time. The lure should skew to one side or the other during the retrieve, allowing you to slap its side against the surface. This imparts a slushy, popping sound.

Snap the lure four or five times, then let it pause several seconds. Repeat this process until you have worked the lure well past the bed and out of the strike zone. If the fish doesn't hit, don't give up. Make repeated casts over the nest and continue working the lure in the same jerk-wait-jerk pattern. It may take you a dozen or more casts, but the odds are good the bass will eventually rise up and take a swipe at the lure.

And if the bass misses, continue pestering it with the floating minnow. A bass may make three or four chasing passes on a surface lure before finally seizing the bait.