It's topwater time

Now that the spawn is mostly over in the Deep South (yes, I know there are still some spawning bass out there), it's a great time to pull out your favorite topwater baits and enjoy some fantastic fishing.

One of my favorite patterns at this time of year is to throw topwater baits around boat docks. Bluegill and spawning shad gather around docks at this time of year, and the topwater fishing can be amazing for a few weeks!

My favorite topwater baits are the Megabass X Pod (a walking-type bait), X-Plose (a prop bait), and Pop X (a popper), the Zoom Horny Toad and a conventional buzzbait. What I throw depends on the conditions and cover I encounter, but it's common for me to have all five tied on at the same time — maybe even some additional variations in different colors and sizes.

The best colors can vary from fishery to fishery, but you'll be in the ballpark with shad and bluegill patterns. Just put these baits around boat dock posts, next to the foam floats, inside the slips and up along the walkways and nudge them to life. You can cover a lot of water with the Horny Toad and buzzbait and work them through cover without too many hang ups.

Growing up on Lake Texoma, I learned a lot about fishing topwaters at this time of year that still serves me well. When the bite was on, my buddies and I used to say that the bass were "foaming at the mouth." It meant that they were feeding around the foam floats that support floating docks and piers.

Swim jigs and spinnerbaits will catch these bass, too, and I recommend you have those baits ready to go just in case the bass won't eat topwaters, but you'll have more fun if you can catch them on top.

One of the best things about this pattern is that it usually works all day long — not just at dawn and dusk.

When I'm casting topwaters around boat docks for postspawn bass, I'm usually using a 7-foot medium action Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris CarbonLite Trigger rod. It has great tip action for making accurate casts, and it's forgiving enough that I hook just about all of the bass that hit my baits.

My reel is the Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier or Johnny Morris Signature Series baitcaster with a 7.1:1 gear ratio. The fast reel helps me keep up with bass that head straight for the boat and to hurry the bait in for another cast.

The line I use depends on the bait I'm throwing. For the X Pod, Horny Toad and buzzbait, I like Bass Pro Shops XPS 8 in 30- or 50-pound test. You can easily get away with the heavy line because you're working these baits a little faster and the line is not laying on the water, where the bass could get a good look at it.

For the X-Plose, I like braid, too, but tie on a short length of 17-pound test Bass Pro Shops Signature Series Monofilament that connects directly to the prop bait. If you don't use the mono leader, the bait can run over your braid and tangle in the prop blades.

For the Pop X, I use Signature Series mono in 12- or 14-pound test. It's one of the few techniques where I still use regular monofilament. You need the mono here because it floats (unlike fluorocarbon) and it's almost invisible (unlike braid).

Setting the hook on these baits is easy. I use a side sweep to drive the hooks home and recommend you do the same. The trick with topwaters is to avoid setting the hook too soon and pulling the bait away from the bass. A medium action (rather than heavy or medium heavy) rod will help, but so does training yourself to hesitate for just a moment before you sweep.

And don't get in a hurry trying to put the fish in the boat. That'll cost you a lot of topwater bass. With trebles, you don't get the same hook penetration you have with single-hook baits. Take it easy fighting the fish you hook on trebles and you'll land a lot more of them.

A lot of my favorite bass fishing memories came from this topwater boat dock pattern. Back on Texoma when I was a teenager, a buddy and I were working our way through a bunch of big marina slips casting topwaters and catching bass in almost every one of them.

We pulled up to a giant yacht in a slip — probably 50 feet long — and I must have gotten distracted thinking about that boat because my cast missed pretty badly and hit the hull of the boat ... hard!

I was winding in to make another cast when the yacht owner stuck his head out and started to yell at me. He had just gotten started when he recognized me — and I recognized him. It was my boss!

Back then I was a clerk at a convenience store he owned. Luckily, I was one of his more conscientious employees, so he stopped yelling and said, "Oh ... Edwin. How's the fishing?"

I had no idea it was his boat.

There sure were a lot of fish around it!