Tidal Largemouth Bass on Top Water Baits
By Dan Grulke

These three baits are great for working over matted grass on the tidal potomac. Left Case buzzin frog, right bronze-eye popper, and center Bobby's perfect frog.

As the water on the Tidal Potomac River warms in the spring, fish will become more active and aggressive. There is nothing as exciting as a top water explosion on your lure on a tidal river. The biggest myth is that top water fishing is only viable during low light conditions. For those of you who subscribe to this theory, you are missing out on many situations where top water fishing is productive. Below we will discuss lures, situations, and equipment used to help improve your top water fishing skills.

Though low light conditions are generally best for top water fishing, there are some situations that are equally as productive. One of those is fishing hollow body frogs over and through matted grass beds. Since the mats of grass act as a barrier to the sun and light, bass take up residence under the mats and will strike baits aggressively, even during the middle of the day, while under these mats. Typically the fish will strike your frog during a pause or when your bait comes into on open area in the mats. For fishing in these conditions, I use 65 pound test Sufix 832 braid, in green color. This low stretch braid allows for a great hook set and extracting the fish out of the weeds before he can tangle and pull off.  I used a heavy power fast action graphite 7 foot rod that has a stiff backbone for hook setting power. I prefer the longer lengths for long casts and picking up lots of line for long hook sets. For lure choices I’ll use Bobby’s Perfect frog in bullfrog or green pumpkin colors. The most important rule of thumb when fishing this top water technique is setting hook after you feel the weight of the fish. Once you do set the hook and the fish is hooked, keep the rod high and power the fish up and out of the vegetation. Keep the fish coming to you and don’t let up, thus keeping the bass from burying in the weeds.

 A similar technique that involves the same equipment and structure type as above is fishing a moving or constant retrieved bait over the tops of matted vegetation. My lure of choice for this technique is the Case Plastics 4” Buzzin Frog rigged on a model 7316 VMC Wide Worm Riggin hook in size 4/0. I use a dab of super glue near the eye of the hook to keep the frog on and to keep if from spinning. The trick here is to fish the frog on top of the grass mats as slow as possible while keeping the legs churning and the frog on top of the water. Favorite colors include black-chartreuse, watermelon, and green pumpkin yellow.

For working around weed beds during high tide or when the weeds are in clumps and patches, I prefer to cast and retrieve buzz baits. I prefer to use ¼ and 3/8 ounce Big Mouth Lure Company buzz baits with silver blades in both white or “Penrod special” skirts. To throw these baits I use a 6’ 6” medium heavy power fast action graphite rod, usually rated for a ¼ to ¾ ounce lure weight.  Forty pound test Suffix 832 green braid with a 16” fluorocarbon Sufix leader. With this combination the key is to steer your lure around the clumps of grass, keep the bait “gurgling” across the surface as slow as possible and to set the hook as soon as you feel the weight of the fish.

See video.

My favorite top water presentation is to work a Rapala X-Rap Prop 07 in 2 3/4  inches  at low tide during low light conditions around weed lines and weed clumps when the bass prefer big baits and a Lobina Rico Popper in ¼ ounce when they prefer a smaller bait. The colors I prefer are yellow perch, silver, and chartreuse ghost from Rapala. Other colors that work for me are aurora ice, and holographic shad from Lobina. I cast these on a 6’ 6” medium-heavy power fast action graphite rod with lure weights ranging from one quarter to three quarter ounce. I use Sufix 832 40 pound test green line with 16 inches of 15 pound Sufix fluorocarbon leader. I incorporate a pause, pop, pause-retrieve and often wait 5-7 seconds in between pops.  Again it is imperative to wait until you feel the weight of the bass before you set the hook.

To book trips please contact Ken Penrod or any of the other Life Outdoors Unlimited guides. Please check out our web-site www.penrodsguides.com for other articles in LOU Magazine and our weekly fishing report. For questions on this article please contact Dan Grulke at musky13@yahoo.com, the web-site above, or via phone 703-389-3508.